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Hundreds of sturgeon to be released into Lake Michigan: “They can live for over 125 years!”

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MILWAUKEE -- Hundreds of sturgeon are about to be released into Lake Michigan from Milwaukee. It's a big step in the Department of Natural Resources' efforts to bring the fish back into the Milwaukee River -- water they have not been found in for more than 100 years.

Sturgeon to be released into Lake Michigan

Sturgeon to be released into Lake Michigan

Young sturgeon are born and raised at the Riveredge Nature Center in Newburg. Their time there comes to an end Saturday, September 26th at Sturgeon Fest.

"We're taking 1,000 baby sturgeon and we're releasing them into Lake Michigan, where they can live for over 125 years," said Jessica Jens, Riveredge Nature Center executive director.

Over-fishing, pollution and dams have kept sturgeon out of the Milwaukee River. But Sturgeon Fest is part of the DNR's 25-year "Lake Sturgeon Reintroduction Project."

Their eggs were from the Wolf River, but they hatched in tanks filled with Milwaukee River water, allowing them to imprint and return to reproduce when they are mature.

"The DNR has set up breeding and spawning grounds for them, so when they do come back, there will be places for them to go," said Jerome Zeiger, Riveredge Nature Center volunteer.

Since the project started 10 years ago, there is evidence it's working.

"There have been reports that we have been able to see some male sturgeon in the very lower realms of the Milwaukee River," said Jens.

Sturgeon to be released into Lake Michigan

Sturgeon to be released into Lake Michigan

Each one of these sturgeon has been tagged by the DNR with a microchip and part of one of their fins has been clipped. That way the DNR can monitor the population and find out if these sturgeon are the same ones that come back to the Milwaukee River.

This weekend, you can sponsor a sturgeon and help restore the ecosystem.

Sturgeon Fest runs this weekend from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at Lakeshore State Park. The $10 donation to sponsor a sturgeon goes to support the project. If a sturgeon with your tag is captured some day, you'll be notified.

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