State tells goby killers to follow rules
Written by Muskegon Chronicle   
Saturday, 13 August 2005 18:49
A local bait shop owner recently canceled a contest organized to kill goby, a destructive invader species, when he was told state officials would ticket all the contestants.

However, at least three Michigan Department of Natural Resources fisheries officials say they see no problem with goby contests as long as contestants follow state game laws.

"If you kill them, it's not illegal to possess or transport them," said Tom Rozich, the supervisor of the DNR's central Lake Michigan management unit.

The goby contests have become popular as activists try to preserve West Michigan's game fishing industry. The goby is a voracious, fast-spreading invasive species that eats the eggs of perch and other game fish; the "contests" are an attempt to catch a large number of goby with the intent of killing them.

The sponsor of a planned Muskegon Lake goby-killing contest said he canceled the Aug. 20 event when he was told by local fisheries activist Tom Matych that the DNR would ticket all the contestants if they transported gobies, whether the fish were alive or dead.

Maytch organized a goby contest in Muskegon Lake in June.

Adam Pollock, owner of Adam's Angler Archer, said he had not talked to anyone from the DNR about the contest he canceled.

"I don't see any harm in the contests, but I can kinda see where the (DNR is) coming from. If you have gobies in a live well and go to another lake, it's possible you could drop some eggs."

Michelle Bixby, owner of Gold Coast Outfitters in West Olive, said she canceled a goby contest planned for July 23 after she received a call from a DNR official in Lansing.

Bixby said the official, whose name she could not recall, told her that DNR officers would be on hand to ticket anyone who transported a goby, whether it was alive or dead.

"As far as I know, nobody in this office made any statements like that," said Jay Wesley, supervisor of the southern Lake Michigan management unit headquarters in Plainwell.

Holland falls under Wesley's unit. "I've not heard about any goby contest in Holland."

Lt. Ray Boehringer, head of the DNR's Law Division in Plainwell said, "This is the first I've heard about it. As long as (contestants) follow the (DNR's) rules, they can do whatever they want."

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