Wildlife officers go a step beyond in order to save nearly dead white sturgeon.
Officers from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife recently saved a life by performing emergency resuscitation. The victim was a 66-inch white sturgeon that had been illegally taken from the Sacramento River near Clarksburg.
An alleged poacher was observed by officers fishing along the river on February 27, when he hooked a very large fish, quickly placed the fish into the bed of his pickup truck and drove away from the scene. Officers stopped the suspect and discovered that the fish was a large, white sturgeon. They documented the fish and cited the 34-year old suspect for offenses connected to the illegal capture and possession of a white sturgeon.
Officers then returned the sturgeon to the Sacramento River and spent 20 to 30 minutes attempting to revive the severely weakened fish. Officers and onlookers observed the fish throughout the rescue attempt, with at least one onlooker video recording part of the effort.
One of the officers repeatedly attempted to resuscitate the big fish by gently moving it back and forth in the river in order to flush its gills with oxygenated water. The sturgeon appeared to make small, brief movements and was able to maintain its upright stability throughout the procedure, but it took approximately 20 minutes of steady effort by the officers before the fish was able to move off under its own power.
California strictly regulates white sturgeon harvest. Only three sturgeon per year may be harvested by anglers and each must be properly recorded on a non-transferable Sturgeon Fishing Report Card that must be in the angler’s possession at time of capture.
White sturgeon must also meet slot limit length regulations of between 40 and 60 inches. Any fish more than 68 inches in length may not be removed from the water at any time and must be released while still in the water. Also, sturgeon may be caught only with a single barbless hook.
It is because of such regulations and the efforts of officers as exhibited in this case that the long-term survival of sturgeon remains hopeful.