“The Sturgeon Guard:” Protecting Wisconsin’s prehistoric fish

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SHIOCTON (WITI) -- It's a love story -- even though the main characters aren't much to look at. In their defense, they've been around since the days of the dinosaurs! The sturgeon just wrapped up their spawning season, and while nature took its course, human volunteers certainly helped the process along.

Dick Breaker and his long-time friend, Bernie Bessler sit along the Wolf River playing cribbage in Breaker’s pickup truck.  The banter is light-hearted and humorous. They joke easily about the game but are very serious about why they are there. The two are part of "The Sturgeon Guard." Their job: Watch and protect the sturgeon during spawning season.

Breaker and Bessler are volunteer members of The Sturgeon Guard, a group dedicated to protecting sturgeon during their annual spring spawning season.

They are the volunteer lookouts for DNR wardens who can’t be everywhere they need to be.

Each spring, as many as 20,000 sturgeon will move up the Wolf River to spawn.  They don’t need human help with that -- but they do need protection.

Too often, curious onlookers will try to disturb the fish whose mating ritual is marked by a lot of flopping in shallow waters along the river bank.

Sometimes poachers will pick up the fish and haul them away.  This is why The Sturgeon Guard is needed.

Working 12-hour shifts but having no arrest powers, the volunteers will watch the watchers -- the tourists who like to witness the annual ritual.

Usually, there are few problems but the DNR likes having the extra set of eyes.

If you're interested in volunteering -- CLICK HERE for additional details.