TROUT STOCKING IN SPRING CREEK
TALKING POINTS

1.  The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (“ODWC”) is charged with
the responsibility to “publicize and encourage the conservation and appreciation of
wildlife and all other natural resources.” 29 OS. 2001 3-1-3(14).

2.  State statutes also provide that “no person shall release, deposit, place or permit to
be released, deposited or placed fish in any of the public streams, public lakes or public
ponds whose stocking is controlled by and so designated by the Wildlife Conservation
Commission without the consent of the Wildlife Conservation Director.” 29 U.S. 6-
504.

3. In a process that began in 2003 and culminated with a final rule in May, 2004, the
UDWC pursued a regulation which lists criteria for permitting the introduction of fish
(stocking) into waters of the state. The regulation or rule provides the following:

a. Approval or denial of a “fish introduction permit” will be based upon a
consideration of:

(I) The presence or absence of critical habitat for threatened and
endangered species;

(2) The potential of introduced fish to compete with native species in
a manner that would negatively impact these populations;

(3) Public interest or concerns regarding the issuance of a permit;

(4) Other Biological considerations deemed appropriate by the
Department.

b. Approved permits will be subject to the following restrictions:

(1) Only the permitted number of fish may be stocked and only at
approved sites listed on the fish introduction permits;

(2) Introduced fish must be certified as disease free by the vendor;

(3) The fish introduction trip sheet that is attached to the fish
introduction permit must be completed;

(4) Applicants must agree to allow Department of Wildlife
Conservation staff to access the property where fish
introductions occur to assess impacts of the introduction;

(5) And other restrictions deemed appropriate by the Department
and listed on the fish introduction permit shall be followed.
4. We are concerned that the regulation is not as protective of native species as it
should be and leaves much too much “wiggle room” for the ODWC to bend to the will of
politically influential anglers. Comments and suggestions expressed at public hearings
concerning this regulation did not find their way into the rule and were not expressed as
cause for concern to Commission or the Governor’s office when they approved the
regulation. In order to protect streams like Spring Creek, we would prefer a rule that
provided for the following:

a. Non-native fish species should not be released into waters that are
designated as High Quality Waters (like Spring Creek).

b. Non-native fish species should not be released into healthy, viable streams
(for fear that they will alter and degrade the habitat for native species).

c. Predator fish species should not be released into waters that contain
threatened or endangered species (and there are species of federal concern
and rare fauna in Spring Creek).

d. Permitting for the release of non-native fish species should require public
notice and opportunity for comment. (State Senator Wilson mandated a
public meeting prior to the first trout permit, but the regulation does not
have any continuing obligation for public hearing or comment).

e. If anything, only sterile non-native fish species should be allowed for
release to prevent adversely impacting native fish or stream ecology (to
prevent “natural” propagation).

5. A concerted informational campaign should be launched toward the denial of any
further permits for trout introduction to Spring Creek. Contrary to popular belief at the
time stocking was last approved, trout have managed to survive the summer in Spring
Creek. The burden of proof on permit applications should be on the proponent of the
application — in other words, it should be the burden of those who want to stock Spring
Creek with trout to prove that the trout will do no damage. The burden should not be on
those opposed to the trout to prove that they will cause damage. There are numerous
examples of unintentional and intentional introduction of exotic or non-native species
that have caused the ecosystem to go awry, e.g., the zebra mussel, kudzu. etc. The
ODWC’s mission should be to protect and conserve those natural resources that are
natural to Oklahoma and not propagate exotic, non-native, biological pollutants for the
benefit of a small number of private anglers. There are at least seven (7) other streams
where trout have been introduced - they don’t have to be stocked in Spring Creek.

6. The rule itself could be attacked in Court through a declaratory judgment action to
declare the procedure with which the regulation was adopted as flawed for failing to
account for public comments and notifying the Executive and Legislative Branches that
there were differences of opinion concerning the extent to which the rule actually
protected Oklahoma natural resources from the introduction of non-native species. A
temporary restraining order could also be sought to stop the approval of a trout stocking
permit for this Fall.

7. Whatever action is taken, it must be taken soon and must be coordinated.