(NECN: Amy Sinclair, Belgrade, Maine) - As the name suggests, Maine's Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife is charged with managing the state's native animal population. But, these days, much of the staff's time is spent trying to manage and minimize exotic species, like the walleye fish that's native to the Midwest.
Talk to any Maine angler who's been around a while and he'll lament the state of freshwater fishing in the Belgrade Lakes Region.
Until about a decade ago, Great and Long Ponds were renowned for their landlocked salmon populations.....what changed all that was the illegal introduction of non-native species like northern pike and wall-eye.
The Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife is now attempting to reduce the walleye population--and protect native species---by setting trap nets near known spawning grounds.
The net comes up laden with fish, plenty of perch, small and large mouth bass...and there in the silvery stew.....one walleye
Obviously, the walleye didn't get here on its own; It had an accomplice an eager angler who didn't know or didn't care about introducing a non native fish to Maine waters.
Fisheries specialist Scott Davis says anglers like to catch walleye because they're feisty and delicious.
And even though it's a crime to release them in Maine. He says it's not hard to do.
Based on the age of the walleye that are coming up in their nets, they think Frye have been released at least twice.
Scott: "This is another concern. This fish is small compared to what we've been catching."
Because it could signify a third illegal introduction, or worse, mean the walleye are now spawning on their own here.
They say they're doing their part, but they also rely on fishermen to do the right thing. The survival of Maine's native fish population depends on it.