Another group of lake sturgeon is enjoying their new home this week after Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources staff transported them from below the Shawano dam on the Wolf River to Keshena Falls on the Menominee Indian Reservation.
This wraps up the second year of a 10-year cooperative agreement between the Menominee and the DNR to help restore the sturgeon population in a stretch of the river that was historically one of the larger spawning sites. When dams went in downstream, it prevented the sturgeon from reaching the spawning site.
This week, 35 sturgeon were brought to a small inlet near Keshena Falls where, one-by-one, biologists implanted transmitters and then released them. The movement of the fish can then be tracked using a sonar system along the river.
Biologists say the efforts to re-introduce sturgeon appear to be working.
“Last spring we saw evidence of natural spawning occurring just below the falls and we expect to see it again this year,” explained Ryan Koenigs, DNR fisheries biologist. “Working with the Menominee Tribe on this project has been a very rewarding experience for not only us, but for the tribe which has a spiritual and cultural connection with these fish.”
In 1993, DNR staff and the Menominee Tribe began restoring the sturgeon population. Fish transfers, like the one done this week, were conducted from 1995 through 2006 when the deadly viral hemorrhagic septicemia (VHS) was found in Lake Winnebago and put an end to all fish transfers. It wasn’t until 2010 when it was discovered VHS doesn’t affect sturgeon that the transfer operations were reinstated. Tribal law prohibits any person, tribal or non-tribal, from harvesting lake sturgeon from the Wolf River within the Reservation.
Logo courtesy Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources