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US Fish & Wildlife Service FieldNotes

In Time for Deer Season, Fawnsfoot Arrive at Genoa National Fish Hatchery

Region 3, October 25, 2013
Young of the year juveniles fawsnfoot from the Genoa NFH Mussel Rearing Trailer
Young of the year juveniles fawsnfoot from the Genoa NFH Mussel Rearing Trailer - Photo Credit: n/a

With apologies to the deer hunters out there, this article is about freshwater mussels. At Genoa National Fish Hatchery in Genoa, Wisconsin we were able to raise a new species of mussel this year with the help of our streamside mussel rearing trailer. Our first ever fawnsfoot, a declining species regionally, were recovered from one of the rearing tanks in the trailer this fall. The trailer has proved to be a valuable tool for rearing yearling mussels to a size suitable for stocking.

This year nearly 2,000 yearling mussels reached stocking size after spending the summer in the trailer. Over the last two years we’ve found that the trailer can also be effective in rearing young of the year mussels past their sensitive early life stages. We recovered nearly 700 young of the year Higgins’ eye from our culture trials in the trailer, along with 18 fawnsfoot this year.

While 18 isn’t a staggering number, it was a welcome sight considering that we only started with a total of 364 individuals in the tank. Restoration efforts often start with small steps and for these individuals the next step is to spend the winter at Genoa National Fish Hatchery, and then they will go back in the trailer next summer to grow to a size suitable for stocking. At that point they will be placed in the Mississippi River in Pool 15 as part of an ongoing restoration project.

Next year we plan to make another attempt at raising fawnsfoot, with what we learned this year we hope for more success next time around.

Contact Info: Nathan Eckert, 608-689-2605 ex 115, Nathan_Eckert@fws.gov