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Besadny Fish Facility manager Mike Baumgartner, lower left, and his son Nicholas, with bucket, plant 500 sturgeon raised at the Kewaunee River facility. Tom Skubal/For The Kewaunee County Star-News
Besadny Fish Facility manager Mike Baumgartner, lower left, and his son Nicholas, with bucket, plant 500 sturgeon raised at the Kewaunee River facility. Tom Skubal/For The Kewaunee County Star-News

As part of rehabilitating the lake sturgeon population in Lake Michigan, sturgeon have been hatched, reared and stocked from a streamside rearing facility at the C.D. "Buzz" Besadny Anadromous Fish Facility on the Kewaunee River. Since 2009, Department of Natural Resources staff have stocked more than 2,700 fingerling lake sturgeon into the Kewaunee river. All the fish were hatched and raised in the small trailer at the egg collection site.

The Kewaunee rearing facility is part of a larger effort to rehabilitate the lake sturgeon population in Lake Michigan along with five other rearing facilities around the lake. The rearing facilities use stream water with the hope the fish will return to that stream to spawn and not mix with any of the other sturgeon populations on the lake.

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Before stocking, the fish are given a fin clip and a small electronic tag is inserted into the back of each fish so it can be identified upon recapture. The small electronic tags, called passive induced transponder or PIT tags, lie dormant under the skin until activated by a device that reads the tag's unique signal. The tag then goes dormant until activated by another reader device. Anglers catching sturgeon in Lake Michigan or any tributary streams are encouraged to check for a fin clip and contact the local DNR to report the catch.

Lake sturgeon are long-lived, which means this will be a long-term project. Males first return to spawn at about age 15 and females mature at around age 25. Eggs for the Kewaunee and Milwaukee Rivers rearing facilities are collected from sturgeon spawning in the Wolf River near Shawano and transferred to the two rearing trailers. They are hatched and reared from May through September, until they are about 7 inches long, after which they are stocked into the streams.

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