NMU Student Involved in Lake Sturgeon Effort

NMU student Emily Dandron (center) is spending her summer helping to reestablish self-sustaining populations of lake sturgeon in the Cedar and Whitefish Rivers in the Upper Peninsula.

These waterways once supported spawning runs of the fish. But their populations were decimated by excessive harvest and by habitat changes—most notably, dam construction—resulting from settlement of the region in the late 1880s and early 1900s. Dandron’s supervisor, Edward Baker of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment, said lake sturgeon is a state-listed threatened species.

“I did some initial work in Wisconsin collecting eggs during final exam week,” said Dandron, pictured with a lake sturgeon caught in the Peshtigo area, which weighed an estimated 100 pounds. “It was a waiting game to see when the fish would spawn in the rivers. Once they did, we were able to collect the eggs directly from the fish. In the U.P., we had lake sturgeon eggs in incubators in trailers near the rivers. Now they’ve hatched and my job is to go every day to clean the tanks, feed the fish and count any mortalities. I’ll help take care of them until they’re released in September.”

Dandron’s project is part of a larger multi-agency initiative spanning five streamside hatcheries on Lake Michigan rivers. In addition to the two Emily is tending, the Wisconsin DNR is raising and stocking lake sturgeon in the Milwaukee and Kewaunee Rivers. The Little River Band of Ottawa Indians is doing the same in the Manistee River in Michigan.

The zoology major said she had been interested in wildlife and fisheries. When she saw a short-term opening working for the DNRE through the Marquette Fisheries Research Station in Harvey, she jumped at the opportunity to explore it as a possible career.

“It was a good chance to get my feet wet because I didn’t have any previous experience in this area and working with the DNRE is something I might want to do in the future. I’m seriously thinking about going this direction now. I like it more than I thought I would.”

Baker is equally pleased with Dandron’s contributions: “She is doing a fantastic job for me. She is bright, motivated, conscientious and curious; in short, everything I had hoped for when I hired her.”


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Updated: June 16, 2010

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