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US Fish & Wildlife Service FieldNotes

10th Annual Little River Band of Ottawa Indians Lake Sturgeon Release

Region 3, September 14, 2013
Young-of-year lake sturgeon
Young-of-year lake sturgeon - Photo Credit: n/a
Many people attended the release for the chance to return a young-of-year lake sturgeon back into the Big Manistee River, MI.
Many people attended the release for the chance to return a young-of-year lake sturgeon back into the Big Manistee River, MI. - Photo Credit: n/a
Young-of-year lake sturgeon minutes before their release.
Young-of-year lake sturgeon minutes before their release. - Photo Credit: n/a
Little River Band tribal members celebrate the release of lake sturgeon back into the Big Manistee River, MI.
Little River Band tribal members celebrate the release of lake sturgeon back into the Big Manistee River, MI. - Photo Credit: n/a

On September 14, 2013, after nine successful years of releasing lake sturgeon back into the Big Manistee River in Michigan, the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians celebrated their 10th annual release by returning the most fish to the river in the history of the project. This year the tribe was able to release 371 young-of-year lake sturgeon from their streamside rearing facility.

 

The method of streamside rearing involves collecting eggs and/or larvae from the wild and raising them in a portable hatchery for approximately five months. Fish are in constant contact with their natal water source to facilitate imprinting to the river before they are released. The process of imprinting should allow the young fish to return to their natal river to spawn when they become mature. Imprinting is important because it helps conserve the genetics distinct to the Big Manistee River.

As in years past, tribal leaders acknowledged the hard work of everyone involved with the project. Many staff members from the last 10 years were in attendance and recognized for their contributions, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Green Bay Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office biologist Kevin Mann. Before working for the Service, Kevin spent over four years rearing and releasing fish from the Manistee streamside facility. Kevin was also fortunate to spend time this spring assisting the tribe with larval fish collections for the facility.

With the record number of fish being released this year, it was only fitting this was also the largest attendance the facility had ever seen. The tribe was fortunate to have enough fish so everyone was able to release one, even with the extra large crowd. When the time came to release fish, tribal members held a drum ceremony to bless the fish as they were let go into the river. After the last fish was returned to the river, the most successful year in the history of the project came to an end. The Service and Little River Band of Ottawa Indians have been in a long, successful partnership since the beginning of the project ten years ago and look to continue that partnership over many more releases.

Contact Info: Kevin Mann, (920) 866-1711, kevin_mann@fws.gov