July 2, 2008

Sturgeon Program Hits a Milestone

North Dakota's deer gun lottery has been held and individual results are available online at the state Game and Fish Department's Web site, http://gf.nd.gov. Successful applicants will receive their license in the mail by mid-July.

The first lottery application process " deer gun, muzzleloader, youth and landowner " had 94,000 applicants, the same as last year. Fifty-nine percent (up from 51 percent) of the applications were submitted online.

Nearly 63,000 antlerless deer gun licenses remain. Unsuccessful resident applicants in the first drawing will be mailed a second lottery application with a July 23 deadline. The second lottery will take place prior to those who seek additional licenses.

Resident and nonresident hunters who have not yet applied, or who want additional licenses, must submit a third lottery application no later than July 30. The third lottery application is available online at the Game and Fish Web site. Paper applications will be available from Game and Fish offices, county auditors and license vendors by mid-July.

Additional concurrent season doe licenses can be used during the archery season with a bow; the deer gun season with a bow, rifle, or muzzleloader; or during the muzzleloader season with a muzzleloader. These licenses must be used for antlerless deer only, and hunters must stay in the unit to which the license is assigned.

Units 2C and 2D remaining doe licenses can be used during the seven-day September antlerless deer gun season. Hunters must stay in the assigned unit (2C or 2D).

The regular deer gun season starts at noon Nov. 7 and continues through Nov. 23.

- North Dakota Game and Fish

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department reminds outdoor recreationists that trailers, campers, motor homes or tents cannot be left on state wildlife management areas unless they are used for daily lodging.

Tim Larson, district game warden at Turtle Lake, said he has recently seen some campers and tents left unattended for days on wildlife management areas.

In addition, camping for longer than 10 consecutive days on any wildlife management area is prohibited.

A complete list of WMA regulations is available by contacting the Game and Fish Department at 701-328-6300, or e-mail [email protected] WMA use regulations also are available on the Game and Fish Web site at http://gf.nd.gov.

- North Dakota Game and Fish

YANKTON, S.D. (AP) - An effort at a Yankton fish hatchery to preserve the endangered pallid sturgeon has reached a new milestone with the spawning of two female sturgeon held in captivity their entire lives.

Their offspring are expected to begin hatching Wednesday.

While other hatcheries capture pallid sturgeon from the wild and use an artificial spawning process, the Gavins Point National Fish Hatchery is the only one in the world that raises the fish from birth to adulthood and then helps them spawn.

Hatchery Manager Keith McGilvray says the spawning success answers a lot of questions about captive pallid sturgeon reproduction.

"We've been doing this for years with wild fish," said McGilvray. "But we're just finding (captive) pallid sturgeon in the last two years that are old enough and have levels of sexual maturity where they can spawn. Generally, the first-time spawn is not the greatest quality of eggs. But it's a start."

Generally, female pallid sturgeon do not become sexually mature until they are approximately 15 years old.

The older fish that spawned at Gavins Point produced approximately 44,000 eggs. Many of those hatchlings will go to research institutions because the Fish and Wildlife Service didn't have the tools 16 years ago to determine the genetic purity of the class of 1992's parents. McGilvray said there is a chance they had some shovelnose sturgeon genes, and the Fish and Wildlife Service doesn't want to risk releasing a hybrid pallid sturgeon into the wild.

The surviving offspring from the approximately 23,000 eggs produced by the younger pallid sturgeon will be used to stock the Missouri River from above Gavins Point Dam to Montana.

McGilvray said he is hoping 70 percent of the eggs result in live hatchlings much better than would be expected in the wild.

The pallid sturgeon preservation project at the Gavins Point hatchery will now aim for another milestone, he said.

"The next step is to be able to take the fish you have used in this captive program and reintroduce them back into the wild," McGilvray said. "That's a huge step, because you're taking fish that have been in the hatchery their whole lives. But at some point in time, you need to stock fish back out into river."

Pallid sturgeon were listed as an endangered species in 1990, and their demise has been blamed largely on dams and other forms of river channeling, which isolated them and reduced their natural habitat.

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