The unfortunate result of trolls


A few folks have asked, "What happened to all of the facebook comments yesterday from your survey post?" The comments referred to are specifically from two individual followers and MNST staff. When you block a follower, their comments and our response vanish into the interweb. 

First a bit of a disclaimer: As many of you know, this blog is not our only social platform. We have a strong facebook presence as well as Instagram and a light twitter footprint.  Regarding facebook specifically, we have some basic policy and rules, and these are described in the page's "about" link. Pretty standard stuff really, and there you will see what we do not tolerate or accept by way of follower comments, remarks or shared images. You folks rooted in common sense likely have no need to visit the disclaimer section as disrespect, out-of-line and/or inappropriate content is not in your nature to post.

As for the comments in question; MNST  posts a wide variety of content on facebook. We try and balance that content between informative, fun, and interesting topics, curiosity questions, or simply to raise awareness of issues.

Though not all post elicit comments from followers, our post about taking our survey sure did!  We received several comments from followers stating they took the survey. Some thanking us for the reminder, some expressing appreciation for what we do.  Those are fun ones to get and we have great appreciation for those who take the time to respond.  A couple of followers engaged us with some questions.  Questions are fantastic; we are happy to provide information or clarity where we can simply because those conversations become vehicles for all of us to learn a little bit more about this passion we collectively share.  As you will see in the copy of the comments below, we did our best to address these; but questions and statements kept coming, and coming, and coming... We did our best to keep up but regardless of what we provided, we were hit with more and more and more which went around and around and around.

The result of this plain and simple, is that for the first time ever in nearly 10 years of MNST blogs and other social media - blocked followers. We welcome respectful discussions and constructive criticism from you ladies and gentleman, we really do!  We expect and can take a jab here or there as well as we do not presume nor expect everyone agrees with the content we provide. THAT would be just silly. But to repeatedly troll us over long periods of time, or waste our volunteers time with repeated nonsense, well, it is simply not worth it.

People asked, so we have provided a copy of the comment conversation for you with profile last names and photos removed. And about those seemingly endless lines of links: These were provided one, because they were requested and two, because they are the source of record research used to support each and every response to a commenters question by MNST. While the links don't work out of the blog, they are still available in the original facebook post. You be the judge. Lastly, there are several staff at MNST who volunteer time on facebook. The thread includes several MNST representatives replying, though there is nothing to distinguish one from the other.

We always welcome your comments be they positive or critical of MNST, we simply ask that they are kept respectful and above the belt as we strive to do in our responses. Where MNST does not, we expect you to let us know. 

Comments extracted from the 3-8-18  Minnesota Steelheader Facebook post "Can you take a few moments to take our survey"

Commenter 1: Survey is skewed for bias, “naturalized steelhead” but wouldn’t both kamloop and steelhead strain be “naturalized” by this point? So what’s the issue they’ve been stocking one for 100 years and the other for almost 50, neither were natural here and neither can sustain a healthy population that would allow harvest of either specifies without stocking, the lower shore rivers are not adequate for large amounts of natural reproduction and will never be, so to call something “naturalized” when it cannot sustain without human intervention after it was planted by humans is pretty ridiculous. Anyway interested to see the results, personally believe if people are so put off by the loopers and cross breading and they want that pure steelhead they can go further up the shore to the upper rivers where you have a 99% chance to not find a looper or “rainbow to rainbow hybrid”

Aaron  Steelhead do self sustain at this point....

Commenter 1: That is an absurd statement to say, IF that was true I want my tax dollars back that were spent on steelhead fry that didn’t need to be spent could have stocked kings or something if the steelhead are reproducing so well. I’ll look later to get more numbers for years but here’s the example from 2015 of how successful the steelhead reproduction is that they had to stock so many fish and yet you claim they are doing great it’s been 25 years of CPR on steelhead and yet they still have to stock to sustain numbers of fish even though your claiming they self sustain... humm

A total of 356,390 steelhead fry were stocked in 2015

This is compared to a total of 102,649 Kamloops that we’re stocked the same year

So if the steelhead are so self sustaining “naturalized” fish why are we stocking over 3 times the amount of steelhead that you can’t keep compared to the kamloops who are being killed anytime they get caught and yet steelhead still need help to sustain a healthy population on the south shore... come on don’t be ignorant 25 years is plenty of time to see the lower streams are not a susceptible habitat for rainbows to reproduce in sustainable numbers naturally

Minnesota Steelheader  
Minnesota Steelheader to Commenter 1:  an angler statement made in your comment was, "steelhead do self sustain at this point..." You commented that this is an absurd statement. Question to you: Do you feel that steelhead will die off if future stocking is discontinued?

Minnesota Steelheader to Commenter 1: 2 lower shore rivers account for the largest percentage of natural reproduction in MN waters; both in terms of numbers and available spawning/rearing habitat. One of these receives no supplemental fry stocking. Those findings are well documented.

SGP findings regarding the spatial distribution of KAMxSTEL and wild KAM fish in upper shore rivers not only disproves your “99%” statement, it nukes it to be quite blunt.

Minnesota Steelheader
Minnesota Steelheader to Commenter 1: There’s a difference between a population needing no management and a management program structured on rehabilitation. Conflating the two is just silly.

We’d be interested to know which tax dollars you’re referring to that you want returned. Those would be some instructive numbers to the discussion.

Lastly, VHS and BKD were a bit of a problem and a significant factor in killing the Chinook program. Do you really think the risk to native char, whitefish or cisco is worth it?

Commenter 2: So if they self sustain and no one is keeping them why do we stock them? If the fishermen love the steelhead so much why do they fish them during the spawn? I like walleye fishing so I never fish them during the spawn

Bryan:  Hey Commenter 2, just to return the question first before answering my feelings, if walleyes are spawning why do they need to be stocked? But I love walleye fishing as well as steelhead. I’m always game for the fishery to be better just like you most likely. I would like to catch more walleyes, not less walleyes so even if fish are able to spawn successfully I like the fact that my money is making fishing even better for all species.

Bryan: And steelhead are fished during their spawn world wide, they live in lakes, oceans, some hold over in rivers, but when it’s time to spawn they move up the rivers. You could compare this to ducks migration, when they are moving through your area it’s time to hunt. Asking someone why they hunt or fish for something at a certain time I guess my answer would be because the time is right

Minnesota Steelheader
Minnesota Steelheader to Commenter 2: Valid questions. Stocking of Steelhead fry (approx. 1.5" long) is currently only being done on a few rivers these days, with survival to sexual maturity less than 1%. You can check with the DNR on what rivers are currently stocked. The Sucker river for example has not had any real measurable numbers stocked in 20ish years, yet the 2017 season had an increase steelhead catch rate of approx 60% over the previous 20 year average (MNDNR creel survey). Why are they fished during the spawn? Since they are a migratory species in our North Shore streams, you either fish them during the spawning migration or you take up lake fishing, not much different from west coast and Alaskan steelhead and salmon river angling. The steelhead fishery was nearly decimated due to over harvest and Sea Lamprey. Take the harvest out and we are in rehabilitation mode, and it is working so far. The fishery is coming back, 2017 creel surveys show it. Some say it is close to the days of harvesting, just not at the rate that nearly wiped them out.

Minnesota Steelheader
Minnesota Steelheader to Commenter 2 Same comment as to Commenter 1 above: There is a difference between a population needing no management, and a management program structured on rehabilitation. Since the crash, supplemental stocking strategies have been employed to boost recruitment. The goal in the plan is to hit a threshold of sufficient adult returns, evaluate, and then for all intents and purposes cease stocking when the threshold has been met. We just are not there yet.

The double-whammy coming out of SGP findings is that kamloops, although initially stocked to help protect steelhead during rehabilitation, are quite literally slowing down the process which is how we end up with 30+ years of stocking with low net gain.

Not only are they slowing it down, it now appears they are reversing the trend towards reaching the goal of steelhead stocking cessation, and a population of fish needing little to no management outside of normal monitoring and regulatory practices. The genetic modeling in fact strongly indicates thet neither steelhead nor kamloops will survive if kamloops stocking continues.

As to the walleye analogy, the regulatory structure of the walleye season largely protects spawning fish, and for good reason. Steelhead recruitment however has been shown to be largely unaffected by angling during the spawning runs. If it were, you would see the regulatory structure in MI, WI, MN etc. change in a hurry to protect spawning adults during a given time frame, all sanctuary arguments aside.  

Commenter 1: It’s silly to think that the fish only return to the single river that they were stocked or born in, it’s been proven time and time again that the fish move between rivers constantly throughout the spring and in the fall. I’ve caught many fish with tags in them from the knife river trap but caught in Lester or sucker river, so hard to assess a fish that constantly is moving, as you see even in the French those fish move in and out of the rivers even daily.

So your trying to say it takes more than 25 years to recover a fish species that lives to be 6-7 years old? That’s ridiculous to think that, I could agree to that with lake trout and how slow they grow and old they get but not a fast growing and fast maturing fish like rainbows. 3 years to maturity and with the assistance from stocking if the population was going to increase it would have already, seems to me to have peaked off already.

The last couple years have also been late runs which is another reason the calculations are off, sure they have creel surveys and check the traps but almost impossible to get an accurate count.

Look at the fishery in Wisconsin if the fishery has the same issues in Wisconsin waters on the same lake you would see the slow recovery of the population over there as well look at the surveys of the Brule and other rivers, and you can’t say it’s the fault of the cross breading, that is happening but at such a minimal rate it doesn’t really matter, success of spawning is still success the kamloop strain was the best fit from three strains to survive in the area and is best suited which is why they are here and thriving, loopers as well have a historic rate of around 2% success rate as a looper and looper spawning and that would produce a natural fish without clips obviously.

I feel like people are blind to the other populations of fish in the upper rivers and the south shore rivers, your study should be reflecting the same rates as those if you believe the lower rivers are as reproductive as the rest. Plain and simple they are not the prime spawning habitat for rainbows.

I can’t prove this but I strongly believe that with the fluctuations in the water flow on the lower rivers the early fish that spawn in the shallow reds the eggs don’t have enough gestation time to hatch and move off the shallows before the shallow becomes dry land, I don’t have any proof of this other than the common sense of what I see while fishing when one week the fish are in the shallow spawning and a week later the shallow water is completely dry I would have to assume those eggs are all dead. The flow rates of the lower rivers are not consistent enough to support mass reproduction of any spring spawning fish. In the fall the rivers stay a bit more consistent which is why your seeing more success with the coho and pink salmon fall spawning population. Again I have no study on this but just my observation, there are still plenty of kings successfully spawning in the fall in the lower rivers as well...


Commenter 1: As for the walleye comment about them needing to be stocked still or that they are being stocked without fishing spawning season pressure, that is a put and take fishery, so with the amount of fish taken they supplement it with stocking to sustain the fishery, what’s the excuse on steelhead lack of sustainment with not being allowed to keep them and the supplemented stocking programs????

Minnesota Steelheader
Minnesota Steelheader to Commenter 1: It’s not “our study” as in any scientific study or work conducted by Minnesota Steelheader. It’s only data and findings coming from MN DNR Fisheries along with comparative analysis of work being done in ON, WI, MI, AK etc. that we rely on.

But hey, you caught us red-handed. Clearly our reliance on the above as opposed to anecdotal observation is unacceptable so we’re raising the white flag.

Enjoy the day, it’s a beautiful one!

Commenter 1: Can you give a link to some of these studies I would enjoy reading more about them if your able to site them would appreciate it! Thanks

Minnesota Steelheader
Minnesota Steelheader to Commenter 1: Yes, but fair warning

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RESEARCHGATE.NET


Minnesota Steelheader
Minnesota Steelheader to Commenter 1: That's enough to get started on. Every point we have made is discussed in one or more of these. Again, fair warning...

Commenter 2: Can you show me a link that says snagging fish during the spawn helps them reproduce? If you do I want to see it. If you love the steelhead or loopers leave them alone in the creeks

Minnesota Steelheader
Minnesota Steelheader to Commenter 2: we can’t possibly have a constructive dialog if you refuse to critically read: comments, links or anything else but really, broad-brush accusations of snagging tied to a specious reproductive argument? Same fair warning admonition.

Commenter 1: Have lots to read, and lots to learn, so far none of it is able to fully prove the cross breading as the problem for the sustained steelhead population. Your first two links weren’t even related to the topic at hand really. So far what I have seen is it's a study that has facts they are proving they do cross bread but that's the same as me proving that the water flow in the lower stream has intense variances which could in my theory hinder the successful spawning of fish. Again lots more for me to read and learn yet and very interesting stuff

Minnesota Steelheader
Minnesota Steelheader to Commenter 1: Your comments about wanting your tax dollars back related to “wasted” stocking is precisely why the the first two links were included. If you don’t understand our desire to leverage teachable moments for the benefit of everyone’s learning quest, we don’t know what else to say.

Secondly, you have to actually get down to the links starting with the SGP findings to begin digesting why hybridization is a significant issue before dismissing it out of hand as you have. And no, anecdotal observation is not the same as peer reviewed science, it just isn’t.

We have tried, MANY times to engage in constructive discussions with you, but you continue to pick and choose, troll and attack. Accusing MS of bias on this survey straight out of the gate is indicative of your M.O.

Despite our best efforts, this has rarely led to instructive or productive dialog. We spend an inordinate amount of time chasing and responding to a never ending list of statements that are never brought full circle in a constructive way.

We at Minnesota Steelheader are more than willing to engage in productive debate. We also have a demonstrable history of modifying our position, quite publicly when we are shown to be wrong, but this particular relationship has become distracting and toxic.

You were given fair warning, the conversation is over.


Minnesota Steelheader to Commenter 2: It is disappointing you are unwilling to engage in constructive dialogue. Your ridiculous comments are disrespectful of volunteer staff time and just out of line. We have no time for nonsense. So let’s nip this, agree to disagree and take different forks in the road. This is where we part ways.

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