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Tribal hatcheries to get DNR walleye raising grants

LAC DU FLAMBEAU, Wis. (WXPR) -- Fish hatcheries in Mole Lake and Lac du Flambeau will be getting money from the DNR to raise larger walleye fingerlings.  It's part of a round of grants to nine hatcheries statewide totaling two million dollars.

The Wisconsin DNR wants to stock lakes with bigger walleye fingerlings, because they have higher survival rates. This round of grant money will pay for infrastructure like ponds and tanks, that will allow hatcheries to raise more of those 6 to 8 inch fingerlings.

Mike Preul is fisheries biologist for the Sokaogon Chippewa Community. He says the hatchery plans to nearly double its production.from 35 thousand fingerlings to 60,000.  "Specifically we're going to build two 1-acre rearing ponds. They're seven feet in depth, and you need that volume of water to raise that number of fish. We'll be feeding them minnows on a weekly basis - so they'll be quite a bit of food that's provided to them to get them to that large size."

The hatchery at Mole Lake will receive just under 300-thousand dollars to pay for the expansion.

DNR Bureau of Fisheries grants manager Heidi Nelson says another part of the Walleye Initiative will be buying back some of those fish once they're growns.  "And then there's also $500-thousand dollars each year - so for the next three years, we're going to be buying fish from these producers and putting them in the waters of the state." Lac du Flambeau's hatchery will receive more than 400-thousand dollars, and the St Croix Chippewa band will receive almost 300-thousand. Grant money is going to several non-tribal hatcheries as well.