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Re: Dealing with the real fish? problem

I've been trying to follow along with the discussions flying back between
Herb and Peter and while I haven't kept up on everything, the issue of
"once caught, never released" has been interesting.  I want to put my
opinion into the ring.  (shoot down at your own risk :-)...)

In Kansas, there is quite a bit of catching, transporting, and
re-releasing of fishes.  I have done it myself, just two days ago as a
matter of fact, with Channel Cats, Bass and various Sunfishes.  Generally,
I can catch something from a lake or river and transport it to one of our
family owned farm ponds.  I do this with species that are 'native' to our
area.  I say 'native' because Kansas did not originally have the large
Federal Resevoirs as part of its eco-systems.  These impoundments, while
beneficial to man, has hurt native populations i.e. Neosho Madtom.
Anyway, I have stocked several ponds with Bluegills, Largemouth Bass and
Sunfishes caught from various localities througout the state.  All fish
caught were legal to keep I might add.  While it is illegal to release
fish into public waters, except if they were caught from those same
waters, it is not (as I understand the laws) illegal to release them into
private waters such as farm ponds.  I have even managed to establish a
population of Red Eared Sunfish in one pond.  This fish is not native to
Kansas but was introduced by the Fisheries people.  My establishing them
in one pond was a 'happy' accident which though I wouldn't do again, am
not unhappy it happened as these fishes are already now a part of the
Kansas fauna and do not appear to be impacting the locals.  (now this will
probably get some conservationists  shorts in a bind I know...but to each
his own opinion, eh wot?)

As far as the non-game species I have caught and then released many of
them on the shorelines.  I haul in a trap and then sort through what I
want and put the rest back.  Pumpkinseeds are supposed to be introduced
in this state, but I have thrown them back.  Ditto with Red Eared Sunfish.
I do this because the State and Federal agencies have determined them to
not be threat to the native fauna. (and destroying them MAY be illegal!) 
If I caught a Jewel Cichlid or a Pacu, it would be 'dead meat'.  I guess
what I'm trying to say here is that we can't get 'half cocked' on any 
issue and take one stand for ALL parts of the country.  What's good for
Arizona or California just may not be applicable to Kansas and Missouri.
(isn't there a provision in the NFC constitution for REGIONAL chapters to
take on REGIONAL issues?)

Before we start shouting "off with their heads" lets remember that
discretion can be the better part of valor.  Once an animal is killed,
it's dead forever regardless of it being native or introduced.  While the
removal of exotics to protect endangered species and eco-systems is to be
applauded, not every introduced species is an exotic.  Remember, nature is
constantly changing and new species replace old ones.  That fish you
consider to be exotic or introduced MAY have made it there through a
natural process and deserves it's right to colonize.

Ok, I've painted the target on my chest...fire away!  :-)

Luke McClurg

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