PLAINWELL, Mich. (WOOD) — The Michigan Department of Natural Resources says a Newaygo man who strapped his wedding ring to a fish was irresponsible and that his actions border on animal cruelty.
On May 4, Jason Rose caught a steelhead trout off the coast of Whitehall and zip-tied his wedding ring to its tail. Rose, who was married for nearly a decade before getting divorced, told NBC Chicago he believes the ring is cursed.
“Life’s been going pretty good for the past month since I haven’t had the ring,” he said.
Just over a month after he got rid of the ring, Jim Nelligan caught the steelhead while fishing off the coast of Chicago.
“Immediately we thought, ‘Who the heck would’ve done something like that,?’” Nelligan told NBC Chicago. “I thought, well, it’s either a divorce or somebody died and was their last wish or something like that.”
The DNR says it is uncommon but not illegal for anglers to tag fish they catch. However, the practice is strongly discouraged.
“When you tag a fish like that, an external tag (is) constantly wearing on the fish. You can see on that picture of the fish with the ring it was causing it to be red,” Brian Gunderman, the fisheries unit supervisor with the DNR’s Southern Lake Michigan Management Unit, told 24 Hour News 8 Monday. “I don’t think it’s something that’s responsible to do. I mean, I think when people do that, they don’t realize the damage that they’re causing.”
The DNR has moved away from externally tagging fish for that reason.
“More and more we’re using internal tags, the pit tags like they use for pets. A chip, basically. We’re using a lot more of that type of technology,” Gunderman said.
Through pit tags, the department is able to conduct scientific research that, unlike Rose’s ring, doesn’t harm the fish.
“It’s one thing to catch a fish. You need to hook a fish to be able to catch him,” Gunderman said. “It’s another thing to inflict extra pain on it before you release him.”
Rose, who has received plenty of negative feedback on social media, had no idea the ring would stay attached to the trout as long as it did.
“I had every intention of throwing it back with the fish, you know, taking it a few miles away or however far away and it falling off,” Rose told NBC Chicago. “I never expected that it would stay on the fish.”
Gunderman said it’s best to leave the tagging to the experts.
“It’s hard for me to put myself in his frame of mind and know what he was doing. I like to think that he didn’t think that it was going to harm the fish,” Gunderman said. “Just the way that it was put on, you should known it was definitely going to cause some damage over time.”
It’s too early to determine if Rose will face any fines.