Wildlife Officers Rescue Nearly-lifeless Sturgeon, Cite Poaching Suspect

sturgeon-in-truck

Contacts:
Capt. Patrick Foy, CDFW Law Enforcement Division, (916) 651-6692
Janice Mackey, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8908

California wildlife officers cited a Sacramento County man on poaching charges last week, prior to successfully resuscitating the fish and returning it to the Sacramento River.

Officers from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) were conducting surveillance on a suspected sturgeon poacher on the river near Clarksburg, when they watched him hook up on what appeared to be a very large fish. As the officers watched, the suspect immediately moved the fish to the bed of his pickup and left the scene.

An additional wildlife officer was called in and conducted a traffic stop. The fish was found to be a white sturgeon, oversized (at 66 inches) and untagged. Suspect Eric Solden, 34, of Hood, was cited accordingly.

CDFW officers quickly measured and photographed the fish for evidence purposes and then transported it back to the river’s edge in an attempt to resuscitate it and release it back to the wild. A group of nearby sturgeon fishermen shot video of the rescue effort while a wildlife officer patiently worked with the nearly dead fish in shallow water, rocking it back and forth to force water over its gills. After about 20 minutes, the fish gained the strength to swim away. The video has been posted on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l0QjxpfdVEM&sns=em.

Both white sturgeon (Acipenser transmontanus) and green sturgeon (Acipenser medirostris) are native to California. They are anadromous, meaning they move from the salt and brackish water to freshwater to spawn. Sturgeon can live to be 100 years or older. They reach sexual maturity at around 15 years old. Because the sturgeon life cycle makes them vulnerable to overharvest, fishing for them is highly regulated.

California’s white sturgeon population is stable enough to barely sustain a recreational fishery. They have a special size limit, called a slot limit, which requires anglers to release any fish caught shorter than 40 inches or greater than 60 inches measured from nose to the fork length of the tail. The larger fish are the most important to survival of the species as they are the most productive breeding fish. Sturgeon anglers are limited to three retained sturgeon per year and are issued three tags for each.

Green sturgeon are a federally threatened species and may not be retained.

CDFW appreciates honest sturgeon anglers’ patience with tagging requirements, as it helps differentiate between law-abiding fishermen and poachers. If you witness or have information about a poaching or polluting incident or any fish and wildlife violation, please report it to CalTIP (888 334-2258). The toll-free number is in operation 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You may also report tips via the CalTIP website (www.dfg.ca.gov/enforcement/caltip.aspx) or by sending an anonymous tip via text to 847411 (tip411). (The text should begin with “CALTIP,” followed by a space and the message).