Prehistoric Lake Sturgeon Is Not Endangered, US Says Despite Petition

"MADISON, Wis. — Lake sturgeon don’t need Endangered Species Act protections, federal wildlife officials announced Monday, saying that stocking programs have helped the prehistoric fish return to areas where they had vanished.

The decision ends the Arizona-based Center of Biological Diversity’s petition filed in May 2018 asking the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list lake sturgeon as endangered or threatened. Such listings would make harvesting the fish illegal, but without them, popular sturgeon harvest seasons in states such as Wisconsin and Michigan can continue.

The center argued that overharvesting and deteriorating habitat have “severely depleted” the species. Dams block access to spawning and rearing habitat and water pollution and diversions have done “irreparable harm,” the center said.

“This is a disappointing decision because though some populations are well managed, overall the lake sturgeon has suffered a drastic decline,” said Tierra Curry, a senior scientist at the center. “Endangered Species Act protection would bring a comprehensive recovery plan and ongoing funding to restore these iconic fish across their former range.”"

Todd Richmond reports for the Associated Press April 22, 2024.

Source: AP, 04/24/2024