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To combat sea lamprey, juvenile lake sturgeon temporarily removed from Muskegon River

sturgeon baby
Photo courtesy of USFS, Rob Elliott
A juvenile lake sturgeon.

Juvenile lake sturgeon will be temporarily removed from the Muskegon River. To combat invasive sea lamprey, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service uses chemicals to kill young lamprey in rivers across Michigan.

Emily Martin is a fisheries biologist with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR). She says lamprey have pretty significant impacts on some of the native fish populations.

"Sea lamprey control is an important effort as well. Unfortunately lake sturgeon have been found to be a little bit more susceptible to those chemicals than other fish," Martin says.

So, to protect the sturgeon from exposure to the chemicals, Martin says crews will go out, at night, to collect the sturgeon. Then they'll keep them in a special facility and release them back into the river in less than a week.

Officials say many species in the river are not affected by the chemical treatments. But they say when native lake sturgeon are exposed to the chemical it can increase their risk of death.

The Little River Band of Ottawa Indians is heading the effort, while the state's DNR and the Gun Lake Tribe are contributing to the efforts. Martin says, "It is a really great collaborative effort, I think it's great that we're able to work with the tribes and the state and then also the Fish and Wildlife Service, because lake sturgeon are important to all of us."

During the last treatment of the Muskegon River in 2017, crews collected 28 lake sturgeon.

Crews already did this process on the Big Manistee River, this summer.

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