Fish and Game salvaged the fish, which most likely leaked from a private hatchery upstream, from a lake scheduled to be drained and renovated.
"Given their unknown genetic status, [the sturgeon] could not be planted around Jerome or any other native waters," regional fishery manager Dan Garren said in the release.
Instead, the fish were released in a stretch of the Snake River running through Idaho Falls. The news release states because that stretch of waters has never been home to sturgeon, the fish can be released there without concern for harming native stock. The fish also enhance a recreational fishery near downtown Idaho Falls.
Fish and Game started stocking the recreational fishery with sturgeon from the College of Southern Idaho in 2007—they are trucked from Twin Falls to Idaho Falls. The trucked sturgeon are about 18-inches long, although the last release included fish ranging from 2- to more than 4-feet long. The first year the fishery started, Fish and Game released 74 sturgeon. Another 401 were released in 2010, 201 were released in 2013, 230 were released in 2014, and 179 were released this year.
The white sturgeon
is native only to the lower Snake River complex. Though they must be released when caught, the sturgeon are planted in other locations to help create a unique recreational fishing opportunity. Sturgeon can grow to weigh hundreds of pounds and can live for up to 100 years.
While these sturgeon were successfully removed from the lake scheduled to be drained near Jerome, Boise Weekly
reported earlier this month on a population of bullhead fish
that have proliferated in Horsethief Reservoir. Because the catfish-like creatures are invasive and causing problems with the local trout population, Fish and Game plans to drain Horsethief Reservoir in the fall.
Until then, fishing restrictions have been lifted for the lake, and anglers can catch more than the usual six fish per person. A valid Idaho fishing license is required.
Fish and Game will begin draining the 500-acre reservoir on Tuesday, Sept. 8. It will take approximately 45 days for the reservoir to drain completely into the Payette River, and an estimated 1,000 trout will be lost in the draining process. It's not the first time Horsethief Reservoir has been drained because of invasive fish: In 2006, Fish and Game did the same thing when yellow perch took over.
"It's frustrating to have to spend any sportsmen's dollars in this manner because of a thoughtless, criminal act by one person," regional fishery manager Dale Allen told BW
, referring to the person who probably introduced the bullheads by bringing them to the lake in a cooler or a bucket.
"Whoever did that ... their mothers didn't raise them right," Allen said. "That's as polite as I can be."
The Idaho Department of Fish and Game gave 160 white sturgeon living in a lake near Jerome a "new lease on life and a chance to make up for past deeds," according to a July 24 Fish and Game