Could Sturgeon Spearing Be Eliminated? It Will If A Nature Activist Group Gets Their Way

Could the Lake Sturgeon Spearing Season be discontinued in Lake Winnebago and the up river lakes of Poygan, Winneconne and Butte des Morts? That’s what will happen if a group of nature lovers gets their wish.

The group, Center for Biological Diversity, has fought to get the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list the prehistoric fish as endangered, which would stop the hook and line season and spearing season everywhere, including the Lake Winnebago waters where the fish has flourished for years.

The group introduced their fight in 2018, but because of lack of movement of the motion, they brought the Federal Courts into the process in 2020 by filing a lawsuit to speed up the process. Now, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has until June 30th of 2024 to present their findings and make a decision.

Lake sturgeon, while once abundant in the Great Lakes, are estimated to be at less than 1% of its historical numbers. Causes for the decline include European settlers in the area constructing dams and other barriers that cut the fish off from their spawning areas, which can be hundreds of miles upriver. Also, overharvesting for food and caviar and pollution also played a role in their decline.

The group not only wants to eliminate the hunting of the fish, but are also pushing to have dams that have been constructed in certain areas removed for the sturgeon’s benefit as well.

The Lake Winnebago system is home to one of North America’s largest lake sturgeon populations and hosts the unique winter spearing season. The event brings a huge economic boom to the area and includes the Fond du Lac Festival, Sturgeon Stampede.

The open comments period for this bill ends Wednesday and the group “Lake Winnebago Junkies” on Facebook recommends contacting Senator Duey Stroebel of Wisconsin’s 20th District by then to voice your concerns over this issue.