Talk to feds about lake sturgeon listing

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is expected to decide by this summer whether the lake sturgeon should be listed as an endangered species.

Depending on how, exactly, the feds list the massive prehistoric fish, that could mean the end of the very brief lake sturgeon season that happens every February on Black Lake near Onaway.

The fish, recorded in fossils dating back 135 million years, have long been threatened, but rehabilitation efforts by the state and others have found success.

In 1997, the lake sturgeon population in Black Lake had declined 66%, according to Michigan State University, which helps run the Black River Sturgeon Stream Side Research Facility with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. At that time, researchers counted 566 of the fish in the lake. By 2022, thanks to rehabilitation efforts, that population had grown to 1,189, MSU says.

Nationwide, about 30,000 of the fish exist in the wild, with just a half-dozen populations of 1,000 or more.

Anglers, many of whom have aided rehabilitation efforts and who value the sturgeon fishing season, and others point to the success in places such as Black Lake as proof the fish doesn’t need to be listed as endangered.

Others, however, note that, despite the success, the lake sturgeon’s population stands at only about 1% of its historical levels and say the fish needs to be protected.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife is currently researching the fish population and the effects an endangered listing would have and are expected to publish their findings soon. When they do, the public will have a chance to share their thoughts on whether the fish should be protected.

Keep an eye on fws.gov/species/lake-sturgeon-acipenser-fulvescens for more information, including information on how to share your thoughts.

We encourage all Northeast Michiganders to research the issue further and to share their thoughts with U.S. Fish and Wildlife officials when the time comes.



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