Fight for Survival

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Published on: Nov. 2, 2004

Last revision: Nov. 17, 2010

been implementing all aspects of these plans over the last several years.

Restoring and improving habitat are key to the recovery of our endangered sturgeon. We continue to work with the Corps of Engineers by designing and installing projects that will increase the diversity of habitat available to all native river fish, including our endangered sturgeon.

We are also working with the Corps of Engineers and many other state and federal agencies to achieve a balanced approach to river management that will benefit all interests and still provide for more abundant fish and wildlife.

Since 1984, the Department's Blind Pony Fish Hatchery has raised and stocked more than 13,000 pallid sturgeon and 150,000 lake sturgeon into the Missouri and Mississippi rivers.

The Department also has recently started a long-range, statewide sturgeon monitoring project to track population trends of all our species. Since the mid 1990s, fisheries biologists across the state have been sampling and gathering information on sturgeon from both the Missouri and Mississippi rivers. Biologists are tagging sturgeon to collect more information on population size, growth, movement and harvest.

Properly managing our sturgeon populations is also important to their recovery. Pallid and lake sturgeon are illegal to harvest and have been protected by law for many years. We have also intensified our efforts to better regulate harvest of shovelnose sturgeon. Commercial harvest regulations for shovelnose sturgeon have become more restrictive over the past few years. Even so, population trends have continued to decline. As a result, the Conservation Department may consider even more restrictive regulations in the future.

Sturgeon Survival

Rebuilding sturgeon populations will require a concentrated effort to solve many problems affecting these big river fish. Restoring habitat and balancing the management of our big rivers is an important first step. If all big river stakeholders work together to find and implement solutions for the sturgeons' recovery, then Missouri's aquatic dinosaurs will win their fight for survival.


Lake sturgeon have the shortest, roundest snout of the three species. The barbels near their mouth are smooth, rather than fringed or serrated.


The belly of a pallid sturgeon is smooth and scaleless. Theirs is the longest snout of the three species, and a line across the barbels would be curved.


The bases of a shovelnose's barbels are in a straight line. The belly of a shovelnose sturgeon is covered with thin, scale-like plates.


Anglers catching a tagged lake, pallid or shovelnose sturgeon are encouraged to report the following information:

  1. Species caught
  2. Date caught
  3. Where caught (river mile/nearest town)
  4. Tag number, length, and weight.

This information will help us achieve our goal of restoring our sturgeon populations.

To report a tagged sturgeon, call toll free 866/762-3338. For more information about sturgeon identification, contact the Missouri Department of Conservation, Resource Science Center, 1110 S. College Ave., Columbia, MO, 65201, (573) 882-9880 or Central Region Office, 1907 Hillcrest Dr., Columbia, MO, 65201, (573) 884-6861.

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