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Lake sturgeon distribution
Midwest Region, August 11, 2020
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Lake sturgeon fry before shipping.
Lake sturgeon fry before shipping. - Photo Credit: Photo by USFWS.
Boxed lake sturgeon fry.
Boxed lake sturgeon fry. - Photo Credit: Photo by USFWS.

In a typical year, the Genoa National Fish Hatchery would go off station to collect eggs from six river strains of wild lake sturgeon to raise them to fingerling size to reduce predation. Then they would be stocked in a number of different locations to restore lake sturgeon within its historic range.

This year in the middle of a global pandemic off station travel ceased. Only one lake sturgeon egg take was actually accomplished in New York out of the six active programs that the station is involved in, due to it happening in early June when restrictions were in place for upstate New York.

Our partners in conservation, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's New York Field Office collected and shipped the eggs overnight via FEDEX to the station in order to continue this restoration effort in 2020.

The eggs were in great shape and hatched out well, so well that surplus fish were available for shipment back the state of New York. In a normal year, we would load up the smaller surplus fish in August and drive them out to our partners in New York as a precursor to the final distribution of an additional stocking of 7-inch fish in mid-October. This year a new plan had to be formulated. As with the eggs, the only mode of transport available to us was via FEDEX. Not having shipped lake sturgeon with them over this long distance by air was a little disconcerting at best. Using the limited information available we set out to document the actual effectiveness of this method of transportation on lake sturgeon small fingerlings of less than 2.5 inches.

To date, the station has shipped 10,000 small fingerlings using this method to New York for stocking by New York Department of Environmental Conservation and the New York Field Office personnel by priority overnight airmail with minimal loss. In a normal year, this method would not be considered given the uncertainties of air freight travel, but in this instance, desperation leads to innovation. Through 20 boxes of freight, 10,000 2-month old fish measuring 2-2.5 inches were distributed in their native habitat.


Contact Info: Doug Aloisi, 608-689-2605, Doug_Aloisi@fws.gov
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