La Crosse Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office was established in 1981 and works to monitor and control the spread of invasive species such as invasive carp and round goby as well as restore threatened and endangered freshwater mussels and fish like the Topeka shiner and  inter-jurisdictional species like lake sturgeon. The office also provides technical and field expertise to tribal governments in managing their resources. Habitat biologists work to restore fish passage at dams in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa and coordinate habitat conservation projects for the Driftless Area Restoration Effort and Fishers and Farmers Partnership for the Upper Mississippi River Basin under the National Fish Habitat Partnership.  

About Us

The office provides technical and field expertise to tribal governments in managing their resources, such as assisting in walleye assessments in treaty-ceded territory and restoring lake sturgeon populations of the Red River Basin including the White Earth and Red Lake Nations. One key initiative includes controlling the spread of Aquatic Invasive Species through techniques like eDNA, telemetry, multi-beam sonar, and split-beam hydroacoustics. Habitat biologists work to restore fish passage at dams in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa and coordinate habitat conservation projects for the Driftless Area Restoration Effort and Fishers and Farmers Partnership for the Upper Mississippi River Basin under the National Fish Habitat Partnership. 

What We Do

La Crosse Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office works to: 

  • Restore native, inter-jurisdictional fishes and aquatic habitats 
  • Prevent the extinction of federally endangered fish and mussels 
  • Impede the spread of nonindigenous aquatic nuisance species 
  • Provide environmental education and outreach 
  • Attain fish passage on streams and restore historic fish migrations through the National Fish Passage Program
  • Work on river and stream restoration, rehabilitation and enhancement projects 
  • Coordinate two National Fish Habitat Partnerships for the Upper Mississippi River Basin: the Driftless Area Restoration Effort and the Fishers and Farmers Partnership for the Upper Mississippi River Basin 
  • Fulfill federal trust responsibilities to Native American tribes 

Our Organization

The La Crosse Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office is housed within the Midwest Fisheries Center, which also includes the La Crosse Fish Health Center, Whitney Genetics Laboratory and administrative, GIS and outreach staff, as well as the Regional Watercraft Safety Coordinator.

The Midwest Fisheries Center is the region’s Fish Technology Center for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Fish Technology Centers provide leadership in science-based management of trust aquatic resources through applied research and the development of new concepts, strategies and techniques to solve problems in aquatic resource conservation. Established in 2015, the Midwest Fisheries Center’s mission is: “Working in partnership, we provide leadership in science, technology and education for conservation of aquatic ecosystems emphasizing fisheries, aquatic invasive species invasive species
An invasive species is any plant or animal that has spread or been introduced into a new area where they are, or could, cause harm to the environment, economy, or human, animal, or plant health. Their unwelcome presence can destroy ecosystems and cost millions of dollars.

Learn more about invasive species
, genetics and aquatic animal health for the benefit of the public”.

The Fish and Aquatic Conservation program leads aquatic conservation efforts for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. We are committed to tackling the nation’s highest priority aquatic conservation and recreational challenges to conserve, restore, and enhance fisheries for future generations.
Aquatic invasive species cause tremendous harm to our environment, our economy, and our health. They can drive out and eat native plants and wildlife, spread diseases, and damage infrastructure. We work to protect our waterways and the communities that depend on them from the threat of invasive...
The Fish Passage Program works with local communities on a voluntary basis to restore rivers and conserve our nation’s aquatic resources by removing or bypassing barriers. Our projects benefit both fish and people.
The National Fish Habitat Partnership is a comprehensive effort to treat the causes of fish habitat decline, not just the symptoms. The Partnership is a national investment strategy to maximize the impact of conservation dollars on the ground. Funds are leveraged through regional partnerships to...

Our Species

We work on the detection of invasive species invasive species
An invasive species is any plant or animal that has spread or been introduced into a new area where they are, or could, cause harm to the environment, economy, or human, animal, or plant health. Their unwelcome presence can destroy ecosystems and cost millions of dollars.

Learn more about invasive species
 including the highly invasive bighead and silver carp and round goby. In addition, the office works on improvement of habitat for the endangered Topeka shiner and other priority fish like brook trout and smallmouth bass, endangered freshwater mussels such as the Higgins eye, and fish passage for lake sturgeon and other fish and freshwater mussels.

Silver carp (Hypophthalmichthys molitrix) are one of four nonnative fish species belonging to a group commonly referred to as “invasive carp”. Native to eastern Asia, silver carp were introduced to the United States during the 1970’s and 1980’s to private fish farms and wastewater...

FWS Focus

Bighead carp (Hypophthalmichthys nobilis) are native to eastern Asia and are one of four nonnative fish referred to as “invasive carp”. These fish are large, deep bodied fish that have a large head and a large toothless mouth with a protruding lower jaw. The bighead carp eyes are far...

FWS Focus

The Higgins eye is a freshwater mussel of larger rivers where it is usually found in areas with deep water and moderate currents. Its range includes the upper Mississippi River, the St. Croix River between Minnesota and Wisconsin, the Wisconsin River in Wisconsin, and the lower Rock River...

FWS Focus

Visit Us

Our lobby features informational displays describing local aquatic wildlife and our scientific research and conservation efforts, a Mississippi River mural and an aquarium of local native fish. The lobby is open to the public. Our laboratories and other work areas are not generally open for tours so we encourage visitors to email or call to pre-arrange a tour. 

Get Involved

The Midwest Fisheries Center offers environmental education activities for community groups and schools. In addition, the center can lend fishing poles to local community groups. Each year, the center co-sponsors several events in the community. There are a variety of volunteer opportunities available in several different areas.

Location and Contact Information