The Bogue Chitto Weir Telemetry Project
The Bogue Chitto Weir is an impediment to Gulf Sturgeon that attempt to migrate upstream to spawn. It’s presence has been a concern for fisheries managers and conservationists since it was installed in the 1950’s and there have been numerous efforts to document the structure’s restraining influence on migrating sturgeon in the Pearl River Basin. The Bogue Chitto River is a tributary of the Pearl River that leads sturgeon to the kind of spawning habitat that they require and that is not available in the lower part of the river system. For years, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries has conducted telemetry studies below the blockage and have found that trends in sturgeon movement indicate that these fish are routinely stopped short of critical spawning habitat. Fisheries managers have been concerned that the downward trend in numbers of this species in the Pearl River Basin is in some part attributable to the migration impediment and our office is now engaged in an effort to extend the range of telemetry studies above the weir to gain information about the types of habitat that these fish seek when given an opportunity to cross the barrier and access upstream reaches of the river. We recently assisted 14 adults in their journey by transporting them over the weir and they are now on their way to hunt for spawning grounds that they have had little opportunity to reach for many years. We’re monitoring their movements and our goal is to find out where they travel throughout the spawning season and the subsequent summer months until they haed back out to the Gulf for the winter. Our hope is that this study will provide significant insight into sturgeon behavior and help to design future monitoring efforts and to make important management decisions. Stay tuned for updates on the journey of our 14 friends!