Meyers Enters In

Colrain sportsman Billy Meyers chimed in about a perceived relationship between immature Atlantic salmon stocking and declining Eastern brook trout populations in their native western Franklin County hilltown streams.

He was responding to a one-source tirade against salmon stocking by Leyden octogenarian Edward M. Wells, who spent time on his grandparents’ Buckland farm as a boy and has more than a half-century of personal observation on which to base his opinion. To summarize his complaint, one which he composed in a stinging letter to MassWildlife last year, the immature salmon stocked into our native streams are competing for food and territory with the indigenous brook trout and thus pushing the rightful residents out. Meyers agrees, and voiced that opinion earlier in response to a column about a multifaceted, 17-state conservation initiative called the Eastern Brook Trout Venture. If anything, Meyers’ anti-salmon-stocking position has hardened since then, and shows no sings of softening anytime soon.

“Please keep this issue alive,” he wrote. “Last time it only lasted one column.”

Other hilltown trout anglers who chase tasty squaretail fingerlings for their black, piping-hot skillets concur. They view it as a mortal sin to “pollute” their native brookie streams with hatchery-raised salmon that 40-years-worth of data tells us have little chance of ever making it to Long Island Sound, never mind back again to spawn in the Connecticut River basin. The tragic victims, in their opinion, are not the salmon that fail to return, but rather the brookies displaced by the ravenous foreign fingerlings.

“Not only are the feeder streams being ruined, but the youth for the next generation is being totally deceived,” wrote Meyers, who pulled in the Iraq debacle to make a point about salmon-stocking programs introduced to the local elementary schools in recent years.

“Telling these kids their salmon are coming back is like strapping an explosive vest on 8- to 10-year-old Iraqis and telling them to go visit the U.S. troops for recess and return for lunch,” he wrote. “I am disgusted with this issue. The liberal flyfishing catch-and-releasers still believe they can win the war for the return of this doomed species.”

A respected New England fisheries insider who’s been skeptical about Connecticut River salmon restoration since Day 1 calls these disillusioned folks “true-believers” in the pejorative, comparing them to the Christian zealots who chase Virgin Mary sightings worldwide.

The point is that it’s impossible to reason with people whose beliefs are based on faith, not fact.

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