Sturgeon time

Hundreds of fingerlings to be released into lake this Saturday as part of annual Riveredge effort

RIVEREDGE NATURE CENTER Adult Program Manager Mary Holleback held a sturgeon fingerling that will be released Saturday, Sept. 29, during Sturgeon Fest in Milwaukee. She coordinates the sturgeon trailer where the fingerlings are raised and oversees volunteers there. Photo by Sam Arendt

DURING THE PAST 13 YEARS, Riveredge Nature Center has released more than 15,000 fingerling sturgeon into Lake Michigan and the Milwaukee River as part of an effort to restock the once-endangered species. Photo by Sam Arendt
By 
DAN BENSON
Ozaukee Press Staff

This weekend more than 1,000 sturgeon will be released in an effort to reintroduce them to the Milwaukee River and Lake Michigan.

It’s an effort the Riveredge Nature Center has been at for 13 years in partnership with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. The DNR  collects sturgeon eggs on the Wolf River and transports them to Riveredge in the Town of Saukville, where they are hatched and raised by volunteers.

When mature enough, they are released into the Milwaukee River. In 13 years, almost 15,500 sturgeon have been released.

Sturgeon are thought to predate dinosaurs and are of key cultural importance to many local Native American tribes. They can live more than 100 years and females may not spawn for 20 to 40 years. It is estimated they once numbered in the millions in Lake Michigan, with hundreds of thousands of sturgeon returning to spawn each year in the Milwaukee River, but they were decimated by overfishing and pollution.

This weekend’s Sturgeon Fest begins at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 29, at Lakeshore State Park, 500 N. Harbor Dr., in Milwaukee. The sturgeon release takes place about 2 p.m., following a Native American blessing.

The event itself is free, but for a $10 donation, attendees can sponsor a sturgeon fingerling and hand release the fish into Lake Michigan.

Sponsorships can be made online at www.sturgeonfest.org by noon Friday, Sept. 28, or at the event if unsponsored fish remain. Each fish will have a microchip embedded in it to track its movements. Sponsors can be notified of the fish’s movements if it is ever spotted by the DNR in future surveys.

In addition to the sturgeon release, there will be themed games and crafts, a  “Sturgeon Warrior” Obstacle Course, the chance to summit the Adventure Rock climbing wall ($5 for non-sponsors, free with sturgeon sponsorship), more than 20 booths and activities from environmentally focused organizations around the region, a puppet performance and local food trucks.

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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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