2017 Sturgeon Guarding Program

Contact: Ann Feldhauser (Sturgeon For Tomorrow), 906-201-2484 or Dave Borgeson (DNR), 989-732-3541, ext. 5070

Volunteers needed to help guard Michigan's sturgeon

SturgeonThe Black Lake Chapter of Sturgeon for Tomorrow in Cheboygan County is again seeking volunteers to join in its effort, in partnership with the Department of Natural Resources’ Law Enforcement and Fisheries divisions, to help protect lake sturgeon from illegal harvest during the annual spawning run.

Every spring, mature lake sturgeon, a fish species that is threatened in Michigan and rare throughout the U.S., become vulnerable to poaching as they briefly leave Black Lake for spawning sites upstream in the Black River. Volunteers are needed to stand guard along the river during the spawning season, from mid-April through early June, to report any suspicious activity and deter the unlawful take of this iconic fish.

“The lake sturgeon is unique in Michigan in that they can live up to 100 years and weigh more than 200 pounds,” said Dave Borgeson, local fisheries manager. “Their journey through the Black River is critical to their long-term success, and volunteers are important to ensure it’s a safe trip.”

When spawning begins, sturgeon guards are assigned in shifts to sites along the river. The volunteers stand watch and, if suspicious activity occurs, use cellular phones provided by Sturgeon for Tomorrow to contact DNR conservation officers who are actively patrolling the area in support of the guarding effort. Aerial surveillance also is deployed to help secure the area.

“For more than 16 years, the annual sturgeon guarding program has proven that people serving as 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.

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

Lake sturgeon rehabilitation in the Cheboygan River watershed is a cooperative effort involving the DNR, Black Lake Chapter of Sturgeon for Tomorrow, Michigan State University and Tower-Kleber Limited Partnership. In addition to the guarding program, this effort includes activities such as tagging sturgeon adults and rearing young fish for stocking in Black, Burt and Mullet lakes.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is committed to the conservation, protection, management, use and enjoyment of the state’s natural and cultural resources for current and future generations. For more information, go to www.michigan.gov/dnr.

~ Guarding Program Volunteer Online Form ~

~ Previous Guarding Programs ~