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US Fish & Wildlife Service FieldNotes

Lake Sturgeon Spawning Begins

Region 3, June 27, 2013
Sturgeon spawning on the Wolf River
Sturgeon spawning on the Wolf River - Photo Credit: n/a

Spring at Genoa National Fish Hatchery culmiated in a busy last month, with the arrival of lake sturgeon eggs. These prehistoric fish make annual spawning runs up local rivers and are halted by dams. That is where we step in.

Our sturgeon production kicked off with the collection of eggs from the Wolf River in Shiocton, Wisc. below the Shiocton Dam. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources fisheries biologists wade into the river and collect sturgeon in large nets as they head upstream. They then bring them to shore where scientific data and eggs or milt are collected. We then mix eggs and milt resulting in fertilized eggs which are brought back to the hatchery to initiate restoration efforts. The egg take from the Wolf River was 58,000 eggs this year.

Next up is the spawning run on the Wisconsin River. For these fish we head to the Wisconsin Dells and the Kilbourn dam. This is a hydro dam operated by Alliant Energy. The dam serves as our staging area for working up the fish we receive. The Wisconsin DNR electro fishes the river and collects sturgeon. The fish are then brought up by crane and held in holding tanks on the dam until they are ready to spawn. This is sometimes accelerated with the use of hormone injections. Then the eggs and milt mixing takes place and fertilized eggs are brought back to the hatchery. Only 15,000 eggs were taken from the Wisconsin River due to several factors this year.

The final part for this year’s sturgeon egg collection came from the Rainy River in Canada. For this we simply receive eggs which we disinfect and incorporate them into our sturgeon culture methods. A good egg take yielded 98,000 eggs from the Rainy River.
The production of lake sturgeon is important in providing a sustainable fishery to area tribal lands, local states and our country. The preservation of this species is essential to the mission of the Genoa National Fish Hatchery and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and we will continue to work hard toward meeting production request.

Contact Info: Jorge Buening, 608-689-2605, jorge_buening@fws.gov