The fate of the yellow perch in Liberty Lake is now in the hands of the director of the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Local biologists want to release walleye into the lake in an effort to curb the burgeoning perch population, said Madonna Luers, the department’s local spokeswoman.
The final decision, though, is up to Bob Turner, the department’s director, Luers said.
Turner is expected to issue his decision soon.
Walleye are known to feed on small perch.
Local biologists hope releasing them into Liberty Lake will enhance the trout fishery there, which at one time produced more than 40 percent of the annual rainbow trout catch in Spokane County.
Today, the trout population in Liberty is fair at best.
The perch, illegally introduced some time ago, are out-competing trout for food and habitat.
State fish biologists think walleye will thin out the perch, giving the rainbows, which are native to the lake, a better chance.
According to a Liberty Lake Property Owners Association newsletter, officials want to begin the program by dumping adult walleye into the lake this fall, followed up by fingerlings in the spring.
Regional fish biologist Ray Duff, who is heading up the Liberty Lake project, was not available for comment and Luers could not confirm that plan.
Walleye introduction was one of several plans Fish and Wildlife officials were considering for the lake.
Others included lengthening the fishing season or treating the water with rotenone, a chemical that would kill most of the fish in the lake, then re-stocking it with trout.
Many residents were opposed to the rotenone option, fearing the dead fish would harm water quality and pollute their beaches.