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Governor optimistic state can work with tribes on walleye numbers

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Governor Scott Walker, talking with workers at Wausau Container Corporation
Governor Scott Walker, talking with workers at Wausau Container Corporation

RHINELANDER, WI (WXPR) -  Governor Scott Walker says the state has been negotiating with six Chippewa tribes after the tribes declared a near-record level spring walleye harvest.

In Rhinelander Thursday, Walker says he thinks getting a reputation as not having good fishing will also affect tribal revenues. “We’ve got a unique partnership when it comes to tourism. I think in the end there’s a way that we can work through our tourism partners to see if they couldn’t adjust that, because it will have an impact on tourism and it will affect tribal operations just like it would other tourist attractions.”

The tribes have declared nearly 60,000 walleye to be harvested in the ceded territory of Wisconsin, roughly the northern third of the state. This declaration is allowed under court-affirmed treaty rights, but is much higher than has been declared in several years.

Some have speculated the higher declaration is in retaliation for the recent wolf hunt and the change in mining laws which could affect tribal lands near Lake Superior. Walker says retaliation shouldn't be in the picture. Walker says, “If we can find a way to work with the tribal leaders to get a more reasonable result out of this, I think we can get people back to better limits, and that would mean there would be more fishing opportunities in our lakes come this summer. That’s important for everybody.”

Walker says fewer people fishing also means fewer tourists which could hurt tribal gaming revenues.

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