The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency posted to their Facebook page about a joint investigation with the Ohio Department of Wildlife.
The post shows two game wardens posing in front of some bags of fish fillets. The caption explains how they worked with the Ohio Department of Natural resources to catch a couple of poachers. The specific violations are not sighted but the statement that made many people on Facebook angry was ” Ohio law requires that walleye fillets to remain whole and to be packaged in a specific way.”
The post received so much backlash claiming it was a overreach and bordered on tyranny that the agency took it down.
Here are the screenshots and pictures of the post in question.
Many people questioned the the agency’s decision and left mocking comments on the post.
The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency definitely could have worded the post differently and they may not have received the blowback. They could have outlined the violations such as how many fish the poachers were over the limit or explain why the transportation rules are in place. Instead the post came off as game wardens bragging about busting a couple of guys for improperly fileting their fish.
After a little bit of research, I learned that the daily bag limit in Ohio for walleye is six fish. So unless the pair limited out every day for the past week they were clearly over the limit that with 84 fish.
The special filleting rules are:
“Fillets are required to be kept whole until an angler reaches their permanent residence, or until the fish are prepared for immediate consumption. Frozen fish are required to be transported in such a way that the fillets can be easily identified and counted. This does not apply to anglers with a receipt from a fish cleaning house or charter captain which states the date, number, and type of fish possessed. Fish must be transported whole or as a complete fillet while returning from the Lake Erie islands on a commercial ferry boat.”
This regulation is in place to prevent anglers from catching their limit, packing the fish in the freezer and going right back out. or claiming the fish are a different species than the ones they actually caught.
Based on the evidence presented the pair is likely guilty of overfishing walleye. The problem lies in how the agency went about posting it. They should have been more concise in the post and laid out exactly what laws violated.
Hunters and anglers do not tolerate poaching, but most resist tyranny. While personally I do think this was a legitimate seizure with clear violations of the law, the perception drawn by many was overburdened regulation just trying to stick it to the little guy.
So next time please be more careful in how you post things, because bragging about catching guys who cut up their fish wrong is not a good look.