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MILWAUKEE, Wis. – More than 1,100 lake sturgeon will be released into the Milwaukee River at Thiensville on Oct. 1, 2011, by state fisheries crews, the volunteers who helped raise the fish, and the public.

More sturgeon headlines and photos.

The stocking of the 6-to-8-inch fish, aimed at helping restore a self-sustaining population of lake sturgeon to the Milwaukee River and Lake Michigan, will occur at 12:30 p.m. just below the dam at Thiensville Village Park.

“This is an important step on the long road to restoring lake sturgeon to Lake Michigan,” said Brad Eggold, Department of Natural Resources Southern Lake Michigan fisheries team supervisor. "We hope these fish, and the ones stocked in previous years, will survive and thrive and ultimately help bring this magnificent fish back."

"Perhaps most importantly," Eggold says, "the fish were raised in the river itself through the efforts of the Riveredge Nature Center to operate a streamside rearing facility.

"Without the cooperation of the center, staff and its volunteers, we would not have any fish to stock. They have provided the location for the trailer and more importantly, the support for the day-to-day operation of the facility."

A streamside rearing facility is basically a mini-hatchery. Water is drawn from the Milwaukee River, pumped into sand filters and then into an 8 foot by 20 foot. trailer. In this trailer are four fish raceways capable of holding 1,200 lake sturgeon when full. Before, stockings in the Milwaukee River were from lake sturgeon raised at the Wild Rose Fish Hatchery.

The primary benefit of using a streamside rearing facility for lake sturgeon is that they will be raised on a native water source throughout their entire early life. "This will maximize their ability to imprint to this water source and greatly improve the odds that, at maturity, the sturgeon will return to the Milwaukee River to spawn, which is the ultimate goal,” Eggold says.

More news from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

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