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April 24, 2012

PESHTIGO, Wis. -- Nearly two dozen sturgeon are now equipped with high-tech transmitters as biologists continue to try and learn more about the prehistoric fish.

Technology used in fish finders and submarines is now being applied to tracking sturgeon movements.

While on the banks of the Peshtigo River, state fisheries staff performed a surgery of sorts on some of the larger sturgeon netted below the dam.

Sturgeon transmitter implant
Fish are placed belly up into a pocket full of water so they can continue to breathe normally during the procedure to implant the transmitter.
WDNR Photo

Biologists hope it will help them better understand spawning patterns and whether the fish always return to spawn in the same river or vary their patterns, explained Mike Donofrio, Department of Natural Resources fisheries supervisor in Peshtigo.

"We're using transmitters that are about the size of a magic marker, so it's based on the weight of the fish as to whether we can put the transmitter in," Donofrio said.

The tube-shaped device is about 4 inches long by about three quarters inches wide. Sonar stations set up along the Fox, Oconto, Peshtigo and Menominee Rivers detect the sounds emanating from the transmitters.

From 2005 to 2009 roughly 60 fish were given the transmitters but those only lasted three years. The new transmitters are expected to last eight years.

"We're hoping to get two spawning cycles from these transmitters so four years from now we can find out if that fish spawning in the Peshtigo or is it going to spawn the Oconto or another river?" explained Donofrio.

A grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will enable DNR staff to implant transmitters into 105 fish over the course of the next two years and continue to monitor their movements in the four Green Bay rivers.

For more information about Wisconsin's sturgeon population search the DNR website for "lake sturgeon."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Mike Donofrio - 715-582-5050 or Trish Ossmann, DNR public affairs - 920-662-5122

Last Revised: Tuesday, April 24, 2012

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