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Epitaph For Once Great Wisconsin Fisheries
By Craig Sandell © 2014

There was a time when the lakes of Vilas and Oneida Counties were "The Destination" for Musky and Walleye fishermen.

There was a time when there were many bait shops along Hwy 51 and the towns of Minocqua and Arbor Vitae were awash with tourists who pumped their vacation dollars into the local economy.

There was a time when The Lac Du Flambeau tribe recognized that tourism dollars helped to feed tribal members, so they refrained from excessive spring and winter spearing.

These things all used to be true, but no more. The Lac Du Flambeau, through their quest for vengeance against non-native peoples under the leadership Tom Maulson, have been systematically depleting the lakes of Vilas and Oneida Counties of their once abundant Musky and Walleye populations under the guise of subsistence.

The result has been a substantial decrease in the tourism dollars that are so very important to the economy of the area. Sports shops are boarded up, resorts are being sold off for condos and even the Lake Of Torches Indian Casino has seen their patron numbers drop.

Only intervention by the State of Wisconsin, led by its Governor Scott Walker, through the declaration of a "Natural Resource Emergency" can put a stop to the destruction of the Vilas and Oneida County fisheries.

The problem is that the current political leadership in Wisconsin lacks the will to take action to rescue these fisheries and the economy of Vilas and Oneida Counties; yet these same politicians expect you to vote for them in November while they sit on their hands and play patty fingers with their ass.

There is, however, a glimmer of hope on the horizon. The 55th District Representative, Rep. Dean Kaufert from Neenah, has indicated that he believes that the bands, among them Tom Maulson and the Lac Du Flambeau, are retaliating for policy decisions by state outdoors officials and he said the tribe's actions would hurt tourism industry in Wisconsin, resulting in less revenue for restaurants, bars and lodging. Representative Kaufert, vice chairman of the state Building Commission, said when the commission meets in April he may push to have members reconsider the $1.5 million grant money awarded to the Lac Du Flambeau band.

If you agree with Representative Kaufert, you need to encourage him to reconsider the $1.5 million grant. Let him know that you support this and any other actions that the State can take to send the message that "Enough Is Enough".

Representative Kaufert's Email is: -

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