Lake Sturgeon Find a Home at Concordia

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One of 12 lake sturgeon that have found a new home at the CCES.
One of 12 lake sturgeon that have found a new home at the CCES.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has granted Concordia University Wisconsin a rare opportunity to provide a home for 12 lake sturgeon, a species of fish that is endangered in some parts of the world.

Concordia’s new director of the Concordia Center for Environmental Stewardship, Mark Schmitz, obtained the fish on Tuesday, Sept. 20, with the help of Brad Eggold of the WI-DNR.  The fish were transported from a stream-side rearing facility at Riveredge Nature Center in Newberg to their new home—a 450-gallon aquarium in the entrance of the CCES.

Concordia is one of only three sites in the state that has been granted permission to host lake sturgeon in captivity. Because of sturgeon’s threatened status, the DNR closely monitors the distribution of permits for such requests. Lake sturgeon are listed as either threatened or endangered by 19 of the 20 states in which they are found in the U.S.

Concordia employees in the Concordia Center for Environmental Stewardship, along with Drew Gloede of Aquarium Architects, admire the CCES’s newest residents: 12 lake sturgeon fingerlings.
Dinese Farrington, CCES environmental education outreach coordinator, handles a sturgeon.
Drew Gloede of Aquarium Architects hands a batch of sturgeon to Mark Schmitz, the new director of the Concordia Center for Environmental Stewardship.
CBS 58 and WISN 12 captured the arrival of the lake sturgeon.

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Cameramen from CBS 58 and WISN 12 captured the arrival of the lake sturgeon. Read more on CBS58.com.

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Lake sturgeon are often referred to as “living fossils” because their origin dates back more than 130 million years; a time when dinosaurs roamed the earth. Despite this impressive history, the species have become threatened over the past century due to habitat destruction, over-fishing and pollution. Wisconsin boasts the largest population of lake sturgeon in the world, thanks largely to the DNR’s conservation efforts and management of the Lake Winnebago system.

In the wild, sturgeon can easily grow larger than 8 feet in length. Currently, the sturgeon fingerlings at the CCES measure about 5 inches each.

“We’re really thrilled to have these unique fish on display at the Concordia Center for Environmental Stewardship,” said Schmitz. “One of the goals of the CCES is to educate students and the community on a variety of environmentally related topics. The story of the sturgeon and their addition at our center helps us foster an awareness of the need for good stewardship of God’s creation.”

The CCES is open, free of charge, to the public from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. For more information on programs and facilities, email swccces@cuw.edu or visit www.cuw.edu/cces.