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Mike Zralka and Stephanie Sanchez release the first walleye Saturday at the annual stocking of Wolf Lake, which Perch America does. Credit: Dale Bowman
Mike Zralka and Stephanie Sanchez release the first walleye Saturday at the annual stocking of Wolf Lake, which Perch America does.
Dale Bowman

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The veterinarian and Wolf Lake walleye: Perch America’s stocking & Dr. Strasser’s work; plus Stray Cast

The varied work life of Dr. Jennifer Strasser and the stocking of walleye in Wolf by Perch America; plus the Stray Cast.

There’s the time Bruce Caruso was worried about the permit for stocking walleye in Wolf Lake and called Dr. Jennifer Strasser while she was buying her wedding dress. And she answered the phone.

“I’ve talked with him all kinds of weird times,” she said.

Dedication comes in many forms.

Perch America held its 23rd stocking of walleye into Wolf Lake on the Indiana side Saturday. Club members carried the 2,200 4- to 7-inch walleye (a few 10-inchers, too) from the Richmond Fisheries truck at Wolf Lake Memorial Park to release them.

Club members help raise funds (their table will be at the Tinley Park Fishing Show). Caruso spearheaded it the last couple decades. Big help comes from Strasser and from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.

Hammond Parks Foundation donated every year since the first stocking in 1998. Others donating are the Hammond Port Authority, Lake County Fish and Game Association, Calumet Harbor Sportfisherman Club, Henry’s Sports and Bait, Capt. Rich Sleziak and Slez’s Bait, the Whiting/Robertsdale Boat Club and Perch America.

Dr. Jennifer Strasser, District 1 Field Veterinarian and Aquaculture Coordinator for the Indiana State Board of Animal Health.  Provided photo
Dr. Jennifer Strasser, District 1 Field Veterinarian and Aquaculture Coordinator for the Indiana State Board of Animal Health.
Provided

Strasser, handled Perch America’s pre-entry permit for walleye since 2007 when viral hemorrhagic septicemia (VHS) hit the Great Lakes.

“That is the main disease we are watching for,” Strasser said. “I have been doing this long enough to know most of the farms.”

She checks their health papers to make sure they are negative for diseases.

For an idea of her dedication, when pregnant with her daughter, Strasser “worked right up until the labor. It got to the point, where I couldn’t fit through the fences any more and had to use the gate.”

Strasser earned her bachelor’s in biology from Notre Dame and her Doctor of Veterinarian Medicine from Oklahoma State.

“I never thought I would leave the private sector,” she said.

But she did in 2003.

As to a typical work day, she said, “All over the board: Really don’t have a typical work day. I work in the office whenever I can.”

She and other state veterinarians spend much time on emergency preparedness: ready for devastating animal diseases, natural disasters, zoonotic diseases (that pass from animals to humans), rabies and Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE).

Strasser is called for many reasons.

“I got called out the other day because a hunter shot a deer that had something weird in it,” she said.

She sampled it.

“I work with the DNR quite a bit and work on the spreading of invasive species,” she said. “It’s important for public to know they need to be vigilant: dumping their live wells, not transporting. The general public needs to know that koi and goldfish dumped into our public waters are not good for the animals turned loose and can be disruptive to [the environment].”

Private vets call when they find something unusual in a farm animal. She is trained as a foreign animal disease diagnostician.

“Unfortunately, a lot of time is spent on neglect cases,” she said. “That involves a lot of paperwork.

“Kind of whatever comes up. One summer we were tasked with monkeypox. Do you remember when that was in Chicago? Gambian rats brought it in.”

A netful of walleye to be stocked into Wolf Lake as part of a Perch America project. Credit: Dale Bowman
A netful of walleye to be stocked into Wolf Lake as part of a Perch America project.
Dale Bowman

When the last walleye were released, Kyle Werenski, manager of Richmond Fisheries, said, “I’ll see you next year.”

Caruso may be reached at (219) 670-6754.

IN MEMORY: Ralph Grasso, 73. died of a heart attack Friday. Mr. Grasso founded Chicagoland Bank Anglers and was an original member of Mayor Daley’s Fishing Advisory Committee. No services will be held.

STRAY CAST: While I’m in a deer stand, I swear deer “posture” at me.

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