Garrison Dam National Fish Hatchery spearheading walleye population control project

Local News

Walleye is one of North Dakota’s more popular fish to catch, but in other states, they can be invasive and lead to problems.

KX News took a trip down to the Garrison Dam National Fish Hatchery where they’re conducting a project that could potentially fix the walleye problem and other potentially over-populating species.

The Garrison Dam National Fish Hatchery plays a key role in providing quality fishing opportunities throughout the Great Plains Region and one of the many fish they’re responsible for is the walleye.

“So, Garrison Dam is the largest walleye producing hatchery in the nation, right. We do over 10 million walleye fingerlings every year and now we’re actually doing a few hundred thousand advanced fingerlings on any given year,” Project Leader Rob Holm said.

Which all makes sense, given the popularity of the freshwater species.

“Walleye is definitely the number one sport fish in North Dakota as well as top five for the nation,” Bio-Tech Ben Oldenburg said.

But, despite their keen popularity, in some places they aren’t always welcome.

“There’s other states, I guess, that see our walleye as being invasive. There’s certain areas that they really belong in and other areas that they really have no place in being,” Holm said.

To try and fix the issue, Holm and Oldenburg are spearheading a project that could potentially make a male dominant walleye simply by changing their diet.

“The feed will be laced with some hormones, typically estrogen, and that will influence the males to produce eggs and when those eggs are fertilized by another male their resulting offspring will be all 100% male,” Oldenburg said.

Oldenburg and Holm say decreasing the female population would essentially give them more control over reproduction rates out in the wild.

They say this project could lead to maintaining other species too.

“You’ve all heard about the Asian Carp thing coming up, you know, with Big Head Carps and that kind of thing and the impacts that they’ve had on our economy and so maybe this is another avenue for getting rid of that invasive species as well,” Holm said.

Holm says the project could take a few years before seeing any results.

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