The Gun Lake Tribe of Pottawatomi Indians has organized the annual release of juvenile lake sturgeon into the Kalamazoo River on Wednesday, Aug. 29 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
The eight-inch sturgeon set for release were reared in a streamside hatchery and will be hand-released back into the river at the New Richmond Bridge County Park, 5700 Old Allegan Road in Hamilton. A welcome will be provided by the Tribal Council and the tribal drum group, Sons of the Three Fires, will perform. The event includes hatchery tours and light dinner for up to 200 visitors.
The public is encouraged to attend the event coordinated by the tribe, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Fish & Wildlife, Kalamazoo River chapter of Sturgeon for Tomorrow, and Grand Valley State University.
Sturgeon, or Nmé in Pottawatomi, is culturally important to the tribe as the fish represents an animal clan in traditional beliefs. Sturgeon clan people have spiritual knowledge offered as guidance to others and they live to an old age, just like lake sturgeon.
The rehabilitation of lake sturgeon is a reflection of the tribe’s present-day progression as a community and a tribal government.
Lake sturgeon is a unique fish species in Michigan and an important biological component of the Great Lakes fish community. Lake sturgeon can grow to weights of up to 200 pounds and lengths of seven feet, with females longer and heavier than males, according to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.
A typical lifespan is 55 years for males and 70 to 100 years for females.
The species is listed as threatened in Michigan, commercial fishing is prohibited and sport fishing is closely regulated. There are many specific regulations for recreational fishing for lake sturgeon in Michigan, the MDNR said.