Volunteers needed to help guard Lake Sturgeon in Black River

Lake sturgeon are an iconic and ancient fish species. (Photo Courtesy: Michigan Department of Natural Resources)

PRESQUE ISLE COUNTY, Mich., (WPBN/WGTU) --The Black Lake Chapter of Sturgeon for Tomorrow in Cheboygan County and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources are seeking volunteers for the upcoming lake sturgeon spawning season.

Every spring, mature lake sturgeon, a fish species that is threatened in Michigan and rare throughout the United States, become vulnerable to poaching as they briefly leave Black Lake for spawning sites upstream in the Black River.

The group is looking for hundreds of volunteers to stand guard along the river during the spawning season and to report any suspicious activity and deter the unlawful take of this iconic fish.

The volunteers would be needed from mid-April through early June.

“For over 18 years, the annual Sturgeon Guarding Program has proven that people serving as sturgeon guards watching over the river have virtually eliminated poaching while helping to ensure the protection and reproductive success of the species,” said Ann Feldhauser, a DNR retiree and the guarding program’s volunteer coordinator. “It’s a unique and rewarding experience to witness these majestic fish, which can live up to 100 years and weigh over 200 pounds, swimming up the Black River and to be a key player in safeguarding one of Michigan's most valuable natural resources.”

The DNR said coordinators will be on-site at the river to assist and answer questions during the six-week-long spawning season. In addition to guarding the threatened species, volunteers can also play a key role by recording the number and activity of fish they see.

“The experience of watching researchers capture, tag and release these amazing fish is, in itself, worth the effort of becoming involved,” said Brenda Archambo, coordinator of the Sturgeon Recovery effort in the Black River watershed. “We also encourage those who enjoy mountain biking, mushrooming, hiking, kayaking, canoeing and camping in beautiful wild areas to partner with the sturgeon guarding effort, where the diversity of the experience on the Black River offers a wonderful experience.”

Individuals or groups interested in volunteering can contact Mark and Ann Feldhauser at 906-201-2484 or 906-346-9511.

Volunteers can also register online.

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