HIGHGATE — The Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife is continuing efforts to restore muskellunge to the northern reaches of Lake Champlain and nearby tributaries, the last location in the state that supported a naturally reproducing native population of the species known as a top predator among fish.
The department recently stocked 7,580 of the fish, known as muskies, in the area, including in the Missisquoi River above the Swanton Dam to the Highgate Falls Dam.
The native muskie population disappeared in the late 1970s following a chemical spill.
Since 2008 Vermont has stocked 30,000 muskies in the area. Lake Champlain is the only lake in New England that once held native populations of muskies.
“Muskies are the top predator in aquatic ecosystems and can create some real excitement for anglers,” said Vermont Fish and Wildlife Commissioner Patrick Berry.
The six-inch fish stocked in the river were donated by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, which also stocks muskies in New York’s Great Chazy River.
In recent years Vermont has done genetic testing on muskies caught in the Missisquoi Bay and river to determine if they were native or if they were stocked muskies or their descendants. The tests determined they were muskie stocked in the Great Chazy River that had found their way to the Missisquoi Bay area.
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