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Posted: May 9, 2019

Celebrating the immersion of sturgeon

Families, friends and members of surrounding communities are invited to the annual juvenile white sturgeon release on Thursday, May 16, between 2 and 4 p.m. (Pacific time) at the Old Ferry Landing, near Creston.

This event, coordinated by the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development and the Kootenai Tribe of Idaho, is one of several initiatives to promote the recovery of the Kootenay white sturgeon population. Each participant will have the opportunity to release a 10-month-old juvenile white sturgeon into Kootenay River. Local fish biologists will also be available for questions.

Kootenay white sturgeon is considered endangered in both Canada and the United States. Approximately 1,700 wild adults remain in the Kootenay River and Lake system.

A variety of human impacts over the last four decades, including altered flow due to diking and temperature regime changes from the operation of Libby Dam, have prevented the majority of their eggs from surviving to larval stages.

Approximately 286,000 hatchery juveniles have been released since 1993, with an estimated 12,000 surviving in the lake and river. The goal is to increase the adult population to 8,000 individuals, which will take at least another 15 years of hatchery assistance, a Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development media release stated.

Since the 1970s, Canadian and American biologists, together with the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, the Kootenai Tribe of Idaho, Idaho Fish and Game, Montana Department of Fish Wildlife and Parks and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, have collaborated to maintain sturgeon numbers and genetic diversity.

Major initiatives taken by this team include:

* monitoring the Kootenay white sturgeon population numbers and movements;

* hatchery-reared supplementation;

* collaborating with Libby Dam operators to minimize dam effects; and

* working with local riverside landowners to rehabilitate shoreline and in-river habitat.

To date, most restorative efforts were led by the Kootenai Tribe of Idaho and occurred along the U.S. portion of the river. However, new and exciting restoration projects are being initiated in the Creston area by the Yaqan Nukiy (Lower Kootenay Band) and the Creston Valley Wildlife Management Area.

View a documentary on the Kootenay white sturgeon titled Fish Between the Falls


The Old Ferry Landing is at the end of Kootenay River Road, accessed from Highway 21 in Creston.

Lead image: Example of a Columbia River white sturgeon at Kootenay Trout Hatchery. e-KNOW file photo


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