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Lake trout populations recovering on Lake Superior

BAYFIELD - Lake trout populations continue to stage a strong recovery on Lake Superior even as their cousins in the other Great Lakes struggle.

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources officials admit that the catch rates for lake trout during the DNR's spring 2006 surveys were not quite the gangbusters rate recorded during the earliest years of the 21st century, but they are among the highest since the annual surveys began in 1968.

DNR officials do note that the important thing is that the survey's continue to show the population is heading in the right direction.

"The lake trout population is steadily on the rise," says Mike Seider, fisheries biologist stationed in Bayfield. "It's not completely recovered, but we've made great strides."

Seider noted that predation from non-native species such as sea lamprey, an eel-like fish that attack trout with their sucking mouths, and over-fishing nearly obliterated Lake Superior's trout population during the 1950s.

Since trout are a native "keystone" species and top-of-the-food-chain predator, their absence can and did knock the whole lake's ecosystem off-kilter, Seider says.