Toledo Zoo Receives Grant to Restore Lake Sturgeon in the Maumee River

Posted Jul 28th, 2016 by Shayla Moriarty  Category: Community Interest, General News, Toledo.com


TOLEDO, Ohio – It has been said that together everyone achieves more. Together, we are bringing lake sturgeon back to Ohio!

A proposal submitted to the Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Restoration Act Grants Program by the Toledo Zoo was one of seven projects recently recommended and approved for funding. The proposal entitled Maumee River Lake Sturgeon Acclimation Facility received an approximately $90,000 grant. That grant will be complemented by one from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, bringing the total funding of the new project to $170,000.

The funding will provide for the construction of a modular facility on Zoo-owned property near the Maumee River to headstart lake sturgeon. Toledo Zoo expects to rear thousands of lake sturgeon from eggs collected in U.S. and Canadian waters until the fish are approximately six months old. At that point, the sturgeon will be released into the Maumee River and their population monitored by fisheries biologists with the Ohio Division of Wildlife and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The goal is to rear the fish in Maumee River water from a young age and capitalize on the homing ability of the species in hopes that they will return to the waterway to spawn at adulthood in approximately 20 years. Lake sturgeon have a long life span of 50 to 150 years, can grow to be more than six feet long and weigh up to 200 lbs.

A University of Toledo Department of Environmental Sciences PhD student assisted in this project by completing habitat assessments to verify the Maumee River could again sustain a lake sturgeon population. Toledo Zoo director of conservation and research, Kent Bekker, relayed that in the 1800s lake sturgeon were abundant in the Maumee, however, demand of caviar and fuel along with commercial over fishing caused the population to decline and ultimately disappear. “Ohio doesn’t have a current reproducing lake sturgeon population. This facility is a huge step for the reintroduction of this species in our state and for the Lake Erie basin,” said Bekker.

The facility is in the design and planning stages this year. Construction is slated to begin in 2017 and the first release of sturgeon into the Maumee River is planned for 2018. In addition, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources- Division of Wildlife will provide funds for a part-time technician position to assist with lake sturgeon rearing.

“The Toledo Zoo is proud to work with our partners: the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, University of Toledo, Ohio Department of Natural Resources- Division of Wildlife, Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry to re-introduce a historical fish back to our area waterways. This project fits well with the Zoo’s mission of inspiring others to join us in caring for animals and conserving the natural world. Humans caused the demise of this species and it is most appropriate that we work together to bring it back,” explained Jeff Sailer, executive director of the Toledo Zoo.

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Shayla Moriarty - The Toledo Zoo and Aquarium

Shayla.moriarty@toledozoo.org | 419-385-5721 ext. 2155 No Comments »

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