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Illegally stocked walleye found in fishery near Newcastle

(U.S. Fish and Wildlife)

GILLETTE, Wyo. — Walleye have been found in a fishery near Newcastle, drawing concern from wildlife managers who say the topline predator could have lasting impacts if a population becomes established. 

According to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, walleye were recently discovered in Black Elk Pond near Newcastle, a fishery built in 2015 that is primarily managed for largemouth bass, bluegill, crappie, yellow perch, rainbow trout and channel catfish. 

Walleye are predatory fish that feed exclusively on other fish when they reach a few inches in size. The species has not been stocked in Black Elk Pond due to its potential to negatively impact other fish species, per Game and Fish.

“Illegal fish introductions are a serious problem and seem to be especially prevalent in northeast Wyoming,” Sheridan Region Fisheries Supervisor Paul Mavrakis said in a statement. “At just over one surface acre, Black Elk Pond is far too small to be good walleye habitat. This fishery is managed as a community fishery where shore anglers have a good chance of catching fish.”

Walleye are stocked in nearby LAK Reservoir and Keyhole Reservoir, both of which have habitats that can support the predatory species, Game and Fish says. 

“Anyone with information about the release of walleye into Black Elk Pond is encouraged to contact the Game and Fish Department by calling the Stop Poaching Hotline at 1-877-WGFD-TIP,” according to a May 22 release, which says a tip leading to a conviction may be eligible for a financial reward.