Mouthin' Off - Winter 2015-16

Comments from O/B readers.

Fish Stories
In reference to the “Overkill” article by David Decker (Fall 2015, p. 74), I am not qualified to provide the science behind lake-trout eradication efforts in Yellowstone Lake. But I am able to ask you to provide balanced journalism and provide an article detailing the science behind the effort. One fact I know from a Yellowstone Park fisheries biologist is that they do not expect to kill all the lake trout. This is not possible for many reasons, though alleged by Mr. Decker. Mr. Decker also alleges that Park personnel planted lake trout in Yellowstone Lake 120 years ago, and perhaps this is true, as the ethic was different then. I have never been told this “fact” by any fisheries manager I have heard speak about this. Regardless, times change, the science changes, and needs change. Mr. Decker does not say what the “agenda” is, but some people may read this and take it as truth without a critical look at his statements. That only contributes to rumor-milling. Thank you and I look forward to a future article as I stated above. —Jerry Ladewig

I have a suggestion regarding your story by David Decker entitled “Overkill.” This article definitely needed both sides presented. I thought his approach was terrible. The science, I think, is pretty clear that lake trout have devastated the cutthroat in Yellowstone Lake and most of its tributaries. Granted, some streams like Pelican Creek are suffering from warmer temperatures and exotic invasive species. There are many good folks who could have easily presented the 180-degree, other-side-of-the-coin position on this story, especially the folks at Trout Unlimited. Perhaps TU will get a letter to you on that. I have spent the last 47 years around Yellowstone and people often ask me what is better and what is worse over this long time span. The worst thing I have seen happen in my time there has been the lake trout getting into Yellowstone Lake and devastating the native cutthroat. The ecological impact has been immense. —Orville Bach

Thanks, fellas, for chiming in on this issue. We have, in fact, provided the counterpoint to Mr. Decker’s claims, twice: once in the fall of 2007 (“A Trout Is a Trout,” p. 70), when the lake-trout eradication efforts were in their seventh year and undergoing a vigorous cost-benefit debate; and again this past spring (“Cutthroat Comeback,” p. 96), when the program had achieved almost universal approbation. Mr. Decker’s opinion is an alternative viewpoint that challenges the status quo, and that’s right up our alley. As a community magazine, we believe in giving unconventional opinions a voice. As Voltaire biographer Evelyn Beatrice Hall wrote, “I may disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”