The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today announced it will consider Endangered Species Act protection for lake sturgeon. Today’s positive finding responds to a 2018 Center for Biological Diversity petition seeking safeguards for the big fish.
The agency found listing the sturgeon as threatened or endangered may be warranted based on threats from dams and hydroelectric facilities, along with river dredging and channelization. Other threats include pollution, habitat fragmentation and invasive species.
“This is a big, positive step for lake sturgeon, but these prehistoric survivors need even stronger protections if they’re going to survive,” said Jeff Miller, a senior conservation advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity. “These behemoth fish are a bellwether for the health of the Great Lakes and Mississippi River. We need to protect their spawning rivers and other habitats to ensure they’re not lost forever to extinction.”
A May 2018 petition by the Center for Biological Diversity requested a “threatened” listing under the Endangered Species Act for all lake sturgeon in the United States. An alternative option was for the Fish and Wildlife Service to determine whether there are distinct populations of lake sturgeon that warrant separate listing as threatened or endangered.
Fishable Indiana Streams for Hoosiers, Hoosier Environmental Council, Illinois Environmental Council and the Abrams Environmental Law Clinic at the University of Chicago Law School joined with the Center in May 2019 to urge the Fish and Wildlife Service to take action.
The Service will now initiate a scientific status review and public comment period before making a final decision.
Read more at Center for Biological Diversity