Poached Sturgeon Bigger, Older

June 14, 2004

A sturgeon head recently found dumped along Interstate 84 east of Mountain Home came from a fish that may have been as long as eight feet, weighed up to 200 pounds and was between 40 and 60 years old.

The head belonged to the second large sturgeon illegally taken from the Snake River in recent weeks. In May, witnesses reported seeing two men catch a nine-foot sturgeon below Swan Falls Dam, load it into an older blue Ford pickup and drive off with it.

Fish and Game officials do not know if the incidents are connected but they are concerned about possible motives. "Some people are poaching for meat, some people are poaching for their ego," resident fisheries coordinator Fred Partridge said. "But there's additional value in caviar and there's some concern there could be some black market harvesting of sturgeon, looking for caviar."

It is illegal to harvest sturgeon in Idaho no matter what the size. Unlike many other species, the prehistoric fish does not spawn every year, so rebuilding the Snake River population has been a challenge for Fish and Game. Losing two big fish is a real blow to those efforts.

One of the conservation officers investigating the latest incident said he is hearing plenty from citizens. "Mostly outrage," Jeff Day said. "The sturgeon's an icon; it belongs to all the people of the state."

But Fish and Game really needs to hear solid leads. "We haven't gotten any information yet to lead to anything but we are hoping the publicity will help. We'd like to find who did this and put a stop to it," Day said.

Anyone with any information is urged to call the poaching hotline at

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