Muskies were released Friday in Minnesota's Pelican Lake, despite efforts by some lake residents to stop the stocking.
Otter Tail County District Judge Waldemar Senyk rejected a temporary restraining order by the Pelican Lake Property Owners Association seeking to block the stocking, so 813 muskie fingerlings were placed in the lake Friday, said Jim Wolters, area fisheries supervisor for the state Department of Natural Resources.
"It's great to see the state recognize the scientific and physical efforts made by the DNR by dismissing the stocking injunction brought by the Pelican Lake Property Owners Association," said Pelican Lake muskie guide Jerry Sondag. "Today's (Friday's) stocking was a huge win for Minnesota fisheries."
The association filed a lawsuit in October alleging the stocking of muskies in Pelican Lake damaged the walleye population, harmed the lake's ecosystem, caused recreational users to be fearful and forced some residents to consider selling their property. The DNR refuted most of the allegations and Senyk agreed, saying he couldn't see irreparable harm from muskies being stocked in the lake this fall.
The stocking will not stop other legal action brought by lake residents, said Tammy Norgard, lawyer for the Pelican Lake Property Owners Association. The group continues to seek an Environmental Worksheet Assessment on the impact of muskies, zebra mussels and other factors on the lake, and a lawsuit seeking a permanent injunction on stocking is ongoing, she said.
"They're asking the DNR to do a better job of studying muskies in the lake," Norgard said.
Muskies, a large predator fish that can grow to be 50 inches or longer and weigh more than 40 pounds, have been stocked in Pelican since 1978.
The muskies being stocked were tagged so the DNR can track natural reproduction in the lake, Wolters said. This is the first time Pelican Lake muskies have been tagged, but Wolters said it was not because of the controversy.
"We've been streamlining our process statewide with our stocking program and the Pelican fish were going to be tagged anyway. But this is good. We manage muskies as a low-density species and if we find out there is higher-than-expected natural reproduction we can adjust our stocking numbers," Wolters said.
The muskies being stocked were fingerlings, ranging from about 10-14 inches in length.