MDC seeks volunteers for pallid sturgeon sampling in St. Joe area

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St. Joseph, Mo. – The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) seeks volunteers to help with pallid sturgeon collection on the Missouri River near St. Joseph. The pallid sturgeon is a primitive fish that swam when the dinosaurs roamed the earth. They are an endangered species. MDC biologists are doing fish population studies on the river, and any wild pallid sturgeon collected are taken to fish hatcheries and provide brood stock for spawning. Hatchery-reared pallids will be released in the river.

Volunteers will help MDC staff set and run trotlines used for sampling and to collect mature fish for pallid restoration efforts.

On a typical collection day, participants will meet at a boat ramp. The workday usually is from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Chores include baiting hooks with nightcrawlers, setting and pulling trotlines, and handling fish. Participants will need to bring their own water bottle, rain gear, water shoes or knee boots, and lunch. MDC will provide lifejackets, gloves, drinking water, sunscreen, a free t-shirt and a fun day on the river.

The fish collection will embark March 23 to April 15 at the French Bottom boat access in St. Joseph, and from March 30 to April 15 at the Nodaway Island boat ramp north of St. Joseph. There will be no sampling during Easter weekend April 4-5.

Volunteers must register by March 13. To register, contact Darby Niswonger, MDC resource staff scientist, at or 660-646-3140, ext. 1378.

Field work is based on weather and river conditions, so day-to-day cancellations may happen. Participants under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.

For more information about brood stock collection, visit To learn more about pallid sturgeon natural history and about other MDC conservation programs, visit