Michigan removing sturgeon from rivers before sea lamprey treatment

Michigan

The U.S. Fish an Wildlife Service treats rivers every few years with a chemical to kill the invasive sea lamprey.

Two of the rivers they treat in Michigan are the Big Manistee and the Muskegon which is also home to lake sturgeon.

While many aquatic species aren’t affected by the treatments, unfortunately lake sturgeon exposed to the chemical in these areas have a higher chance of dying.

The Little River Band of Ottawa Indians is working to protect juvenile lake sturgeon from these sea lamprey treatments over the next two months. This effort will include the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Gun Lake Tribe.

“Lake sturgeon are an important species in the Great Lakes ecosystem, and it’s critical to protect and restore these populations because of their historical and cultural significance,” said Emily Martin, a fisheries biologist with the DNR’s Tribal Coordination Unit.

Crews from participating agencies are capturing juvenile lake sturgeon at night using spotlights. Fish are collected with dip nets and taken to the Little River Band’s sturgeon-rearing facility.

“This collaborative effort is a great way to supplement the restoration efforts of lake sturgeon populations on the Manistee and Muskegon rivers,” said Corey Jerome, a fisheries biologist with the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians. “The collection efforts help protect an age class of sturgeon that experiences high natural mortality early on in their life stages.”

117 lake sturgeon were collected and safely released during the last sea lamprey treatment on the Big Manistee River in 2016.

In 2017 crews collected and later released 28 lake sturgeon during treatment on the Muskegon.

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