|The Mountain-Prairie Region|
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
134 Union Boulevard
Lakewood, Colorado 80228
September 2, 2005
Herb Bollig 605-665-3352
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Stocks Endangered Pallid Sturgeons in Missouri River
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) stocked 875 pallid sturgeons in the Missouri River below Fort Randall Dam near Running Water, South Dakota, this week. The fish, averaging 12–13 inches in length, were spawned and reared at the Service’s Gavins Point National Fish hatchery near Yankton, South Dakota. Gavins Point National Fish Hatchery is unique in that it is the only facility in the nation that maintains all of the future broodstock for the continuation of the recovery of the pallid sturgeon.
The endangered pallid sturgeon is an ancient fish that can grow up to 6 feet long and weigh 85 pounds, with a lifespan of up to 100 years. Dam construction, habitat alterations, and over-fishing are major causes of the pallid sturgeon's decline in the past 50 years. Historically, this fish was found in the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers and their major tributaries. Currently, it is found only in the Missouri River, the Mississippi River downstream of the Missouri River, the lower Yellowstone River, and Atchafalaya River. Current range-wide populations are estimated at 6,000-10,000.
Since 1994, over 100,000 pallid sturgeons have been stocked in the waters of Montana, North Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Louisiana. Without these efforts, biologists estimate this species would have been extirpated in several parts of the range within the next 5-10 years. Although this stocking effort alone will not recover the species, it is an important step in preserving the pallid sturgeon until habitat improvements can be made that will allow the species to reproduce successfully in the wild. Stocking also provides research opportunities to better understand this ancient species, and allows the public an opportunity to view a fish, known as the ‘swimming dinosaur,’ that few will ever get a chance to see.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses 545 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resources offices and 81 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign and Native American tribal governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Assistance program, which distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.
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