NANFA-L-- 40,000 little pallid sturgeon!

Subject: NANFA-L-- 40,000 little pallid sturgeon!
From: Hoover, Jan J ERDC-EL-MS (Jan.J.Hoover at
Date: Wed Sep 01 2004 - 17:39:24 CDT

Bismarck Tribune, Sept. 1, 2004:
Project will tag 40,000 young pallids (By RICHARD HINTON) --

An enormous pallid sturgeon tagging effort scheduled to begin next week is
expected to double the number of the young, endangered fish swimming in the
Missouri River.The plan calls for 40,000 to 50,000 pallids to be tagged at
the Garrison Dam National Fish Hatchery in Riverdale during two sessions.

"We've got a total of 50,000 fingerlings totaled to date," said Rob Holm,
the hatchery's project leader. "The stocking here will just about double
that." Holm isn't sure where all of the young pallids are bound for. "We
have feelers out," he said Tuesday. "We're hoping everywhere from Montana to
Missouri." The fingerling pallids are part of an exceptional June spawn.
"Their survival has been just phenomenal, and they are growing so fast we
just don't have the space," Holm said.

The tagging work will begin Sept. 7 and probably go through Sept. 10. Crews
will finish up the project starting Sept. 28. Four four-person teams will
do the tagging, which will involve giving the 3- to 4-inch fish two forms of
identification, an elastomer tag and a coated wire tag. Biologists say they
believe fewer than 200 mature pallids exist in the Missouri and Yellowstone
rivers between Fort Peck Reservoir in Montana and North Dakota's Lake
Sakakawea. Female pallids take between 10 and 20 years to reach adulthood
and produce eggs, and males mature in seven to nine years. With most of the
upper river adult population expected to die off within the next 10 years,
the tagging and stocking effort for the endangered species takes on added

In July, biologists, technicians and volunteers put in a long day's work and
tagged about 2,400 pallids from the 2003 year class for release downriver.
The tagging equipment will be air driven this time, instead of the
hand-operated equipment crews used in the July tagging project. "Hopefully
it will go quickly," Holm said. The goal is four pallids per team per
minute. And such an abundant spawn couldn't have come at a better time.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will conduct a pallid sturgeon assessment
throughout the Missouri River system starting in the spring. "There is lots
we don't know yet," said Paul Johnston, a corps spokesman in Omaha, Neb.
"This is a beginning study, and there will be more in the future." Among
the goals will be to get a better handle on the pallid populations, to
figure out the influence of water temperature on spawning and learn how much
a spring rise influences spawning.

"It's good to have (the pallids) go in right before the assessment," Holm
said, "so we know how these fish do in the wild." This year's spawn
involved four mature female pallids and 16 mature males. Three of the
pallids weighed in the 60- to 65-pound range and most of the others weighed
between 40 and 50 pounds. "Obviously we had good females from the wild, and
obviously we hit it just perfect," Holm said of this year's spawn. "It's
making a lot of work for us."

(Reach reporter Richard Hinton at 250-8256 or outdoors at

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: Fri Dec 31 2004 - 11:27:11 CST