March 13, 2012
OSHKOSH, Wis. - It is a spectacle seen nowhere else in the world. Each year, in mid-April the largest population of lake sturgeon in the world spawns in northeastern Wisconsin. The giant, prehistoric fish make their way from the Winnebago Lakes up the Wolf River as they have for the past 10,000 years.
While groups of male sturgeon battle it out for the opportunity to fertilize a female's eggs, standing on the shore are groups of volunteers making sure the fish are not touched. It has been this way for nearly 30 years and will happen again in 2012.
The Department of Natural Resources is looking for volunteers for the Sturgeon Guard. This elite group was created in the mid-1980s to make sure the fish, which slam themselves along the shoreline during spawning, aren't illegally netted or speared.
"Those working as members of the sturgeon guard are extremely important to the continued strength of the sturgeon population," said warden supervisor Carl Mesman, DNR sturgeon camp coordinator, "Our volunteers are not only passionate about protecting the fish, but have become part of this incredible success story. Many come back year after year just to be a part of it."
Spawning usually takes place between a five and nine day period. Those who can be available day or night have the best chance of observing the spawning sturgeon. Guards should be prepared for any and all weather conditions and are encouraged to pair up with a friend or family member to keep them company during their 12-hour shifts.
Anyone interested in volunteering should visit the DNR website [dnr.wi.gov] and search for "sturgeon guard."
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Rebecca Pawlak, fisheries technician 920-303-5429; Carl Mesman, sturgeon camp coordinator 920-787-3051; or Trish Ossmann, public affairs manager - 920-662-5122