Volunteers Needed to Help Stand Watch During Lake Sturgeon Spawning Runs

The DNR and the Black Lake Chapter of Sturgeon for Tomorrow are looking for volunteers to help protect lake sturgeon from poaching during the annual spawning run.

Every spring mature lake sturgeon briefly leave Black Lake in Cheboygan County for spawning sites upstream in the Black River.

Lake sturgeon is a fish species that is threatened in Michigan and rare throughout the United States, and they become vulnerable to poaching while on the spawning run.

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The DNR says hundreds of volunteers are needed to stand guard along the Black River during the spawning season, from mid-April through early June, to report any suspicious activity and deter the unlawful take of this iconic fish.

When spawning begins, sturgeon guards are assigned in shifts to sites along the river. The volunteers stand watch and, if suspicious activity occurs, use cellphones provided by Sturgeon for Tomorrow to contact DNR Conservation Officers who are actively patrolling the area in support of the guarding effort. Aerial surveillance is also deployed to help secure the area.

Many opportunities over the approximately six-week-long spawning season are available for those who wish to help. Coordinators will be on-site at the river to assist and answer questions. In addition to guarding the sturgeon, volunteers can also play a key role by recording the number and activity of fish they see. This has become a popular activity for families, scouting and church groups, as well as students interested in natural resource management. Often artists participate as well, especially photographers.

Individuals or groups interested in volunteering should contact Mark and Ann Feldhauser at 906.201.2484, or 906.346.9511.

Volunteers can also register online at www.sturgeonfortomorrow.org/guarding-program.php or web search Sturgeon for Tomorrow, Black Lake Chapter.