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For Release: Monday, March 27, 2017

DEC Lake Sturgeon Restoration Efforts Showing Results

Threatened Fish Native to the St. Lawrence River

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced a milestone today in the state's Lake Sturgeon restoration efforts. In August 2016, field biologists from DEC, DEC's Region 6, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Cortland, NY, captured 18 young sturgeon in the Oswegatchie River upstream of Heuvelton and as far as Oxbow in St. Lawrence County. Approximately one-fourth of the sturgeon catch were of wild origin, with the possibility that sturgeon stocked 15 to 20 years ago contributed to spawning. The discovery is noteworthy, as wild sturgeon in the Oswegatchie have not been as abundant and ranging in size since the 1960s.

"This is truly a significant event," said Judy Drabicki, Regional Director. "The return of wild sturgeon to the Oswegatchie River is a great example of how, with good science and great partnerships, we can restore a species that nearly disappeared from our state."

Biologists determined the sturgeon to be five to 10 years old and 24 to 30 inches in length. Considered intermediate-sized, the fish are believed to have originated from remnant wild Sturgeon that spawned with Sturgeon stocked between 1995 and 2004. Dozens of smaller-sized sturgeon in the catch were stocked more recently, and ranged from 11 to 20 inches. Larger fish were the result of the earliest stocking and ranged from 30 to 45 inches.

Lake Sturgeon take decades to mature and only reproduce after 20 years. Lake Sturgeon have been around since dinosaurs roamed the Earth. DEC has been actively working with federal, tribal, and university partners to protect and restore Lake Sturgeon throughout New York State. DEC encourages anglers to continue serving as environmental stewards and avoid targeting these fish and immediately releasing them.

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