In a statement issued by the Lac du Flambeau Band of Superior Chippewa, it has been confirmed that Lac du Flambeau tribal spearers over-harvested their allotted quota of walleyes while spearing on two Oneida County lakes on back-to-back nights in May.

The Great Lakes Indian Fish & Wildlife Commission (GLIFWC), that monitored spearing activity on Dam Lake on the Sugar Camp Chain, May 3, and on Squirrel Lake in western Oneida County, May 4, reported to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) that tribal spearfishing lake quotas for walleye exceeded limits set for those two lakes.

“The harvest numbers reported (for) May 3 and May 4 are accurate,” said Karl Robe, a spokesperson for Lac du Flambeau.

Robe explained that the Dam Lake quota was set at 154, and 201 were harvested. The Squirrel Lake quota was set at 413 while 534 were actually harvested.

“Exceeding lake harvest limits is unacceptable, which is why we have monitoring and enforcement mechanisms in place to capture this information to preserve and protect fish populations,” said Tribal President John D. Johnson Sr.

According to DNR Communications Director Sarah Hoye, because more than 60% of the safe harvest was speared on back-to-back years on both Dam and Squirrel Lake, those lakes will be closed to high-efficiency harvest in 2023.

Robe did mention that though more than 60% of the safe harvest was speared, safe harvest levels were not jeopardized.

“These reports demonstrate that the safeguards we have in place are working to alert us to what’s happening on lakes,” affirmed Johnson. “Monitoring of the lakes includes creel teams and law enforcement tracking tribal members entry and exit from designated landings to ensure we hold ourselves accountable.”

GLIFWC Biological Services Division Director Jonathan Gilbert said that he too believes the overall health of the walleye population in either lake has been harmed either in the short- or long-term.

“Despite the two lakes walleye harvest numbers exceeding the lake quota these harvest numbers do not exceed safe harvest levels for these lakes and pose no biological harm to the lake,” he said.

Robe said it was his understanding that Lac du Flambeau would not spear either lake next spring in accordance with the Voigt court ruling.