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NY DEC Issues Lake Sturgeon Advisory


NY DEC Issues Lake Sturgeon Advisory


In the wake of numerous reports of lake sturgeon being caught recently by anglers in the Upper Niagara River near Buffalo Harbor, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has reminded the public that these fish (Acipenser fulvescens) are listed as a threatened species in New York State. There is no open season for this fish species and possession of lake sturgeon in New York is prohibited.

Anglers who do unintentionally hook into one should follow these practices to ensure that the fish are returned to the water unharmed:

· Avoid bringing the fish into the boat if possible.

· Use pliers to remove the hook. Sturgeon are almost always hooked in the mouth.

· Always support the fish horizontally. Do not hold sturgeon in a vertical position by their head, gills, or tails, even for taking pictures.

· Never touch their eyes or gills.

· Minimize their time out of the water.

· Use caution when handling the fish as they have sharp scaly plates called scutes on their backs. Use gloves or a damp towel to avoid injury.

Lake sturgeon were once abundant in New York, but past commercial fishing, dam building and habitat loss decimated populations. Today they can still be found in Lake Erie, the Niagara River, Lake Ontario, the St. Lawrence River, Grasse River, Oswegatchie River, and Black Lake, as well as Lake Champlain, Cayuga Lake, Oneida Lake, Seneca River and Cayuga Canal. While sturgeon numbers have improved, their populations are still very low compared to historical levels both in New York and the rest of the Great Lakes states.

Populations are recovering as a result of protection and stocking efforts by DEC. This year eggs will also be reared in the hatchery at SUNY Cobleskill as part of a project funded by the federal State Wildlife Grants program.

As a result of the restoration efforts by state and federal agencies, sturgeon are often tagged as part of ongoing research. If you find a tagged sturgeon, please follow the reporting instructions on the tag or contact your regional DEC office for assistance.

New York Department of Environmental Conservation

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