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Lake sturgeon stockings show promise for return of prehistoric fish to Lake Erie

The resilient Cuyahoga River could be established as a spawning area for these giants that once roamed Lake Erie.

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Lake sturgeon once thrived in Lake Erie, but that was a long, long time ago.

"There were an estimated one million adult sturgeon in the lake prior to 1860," says Travis Hartman. He is the Lake Erie Fisheries Administrator for the Ohio Division of Wildlife. 

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There's a work in progress to bring a sustained population of sturgeon back to Lake Erie.

"For river spawners they need access to the best habitat," explains Hartman.

One of the best habitats for spawning? The Cuyahoga River.

Yes, the same one that burned and inspired The Clean Water Act

"What we've seen in the Cuyahoga watershed is lots of barriers be removed, and there's even a move underway to remove The Gorge Dam," Hartman adds.

The Maumee River has been stocked with thousands of sturgeon with an 80-97% return rate. "We worked with fish and wildlife, and then other local partners like the Lake Erie Waterkeepers and the Toledo Zoo, also," say Hartman.

With such improved water quality here in Northeast Ohio, sturgeon could be stocked and even spawn in the Crooked River.

"Quite frankly, I expect it to turn into a success story," Hartman predicts.

And that's no fish tale.

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