Sunday, March 15, 2009

Volunteers Needed for Sturgeon Guard: Night shift volunteers especially in demand

OSHKOSH - Each Spring, hundreds of volunteers guard sturgeon at their spawning sites on the Wolf River to protect the fish from poaching. This rich tradition and partnership with the public is directed by Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement staff and funded, in part, by Sturgeon for Tomorrow, a local sturgeon conservation organization.

When sturgeon spawn along the rocky shorelines of the Wolf River they pay little attention to people and are very susceptible to illegal harvest. To protect them, "Sturgeon Guard" volunteers maintain a presence at the spawning sites 24-hours a day throughout the spawning season, which usually begins in late April and lasts through early May.

When spawning begins, pairs of sturgeon guards are assigned to sites along the river for 12-hour shifts. Prior to assignment, guards check in at "Sturgeon Camp" just north of Shiocton, where they are fed a good meal, given a generous sack lunch and an identification hat (that they keep), and directed to their site. At the end of their shift, guards return to camp for another hearty home-cooked meal before they make their way home.

Currently, Sturgeon Guard is much in need of volunteers to fill the overnight shifts. If you are interested in signing up for the Sturgeon Guard, send an email message to: (email is preferred), or call the Sturgeon Guard Coordinator at the DNR Oshkosh Service Center (920) 303-5444.

While it is impossible to predict the exact dates that spawning will occur each year, guards are routinely scheduled somewhere within a window from April 15 through May 5. Spawning generally occurs for a five to seven day period. DNR schedulers do their best to get all scheduled guards out on the riverbank to see fish, but since nature dictates the spawning activities timing and duration, schedulers cannot guarantee all volunteers will actually get a shift.

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