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Poachers tie ‘living fossils’ to dock, get caught with a 7-footer

For The Win logo For The Win 3/18/2022 David Strege
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Poachers face felony charges in Oregon after getting caught in possession of five white sturgeon that they failed to release, as required by law. Instead, four were tied to a dock they moored their boat to and another, a 7-footer, was discovered in their boat.

Earlier this month, fishermen along the banks of Scappoose Bay witnessed people fishing from a boat had caught but not released a white sturgeon and reported them to the Oregon State Police and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife troopers, according to the ODFW.

After two days of monitoring the area, troopers Scott Bernardi and Justin Morgan approached the men where they were moored at the dock.

The poachers claimed they had not caught any fish, but the troopers noticed two lines extending from the dock into the water. Upon pulling the lines up, they found four live white sturgeon. When inspecting the boat, the troopers discovered the 7-foot white sturgeon, pictured below lying on the dock.

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“It takes between 50 and 80 years for sturgeon to reach that length,” the ODFW stated. “The biggest sturgeon are usually females because they require more room for increased egg production, according to ODFW Columbia River program manager, Tucker Jones. “This fish was most likely a female.”

From the ODFW:

One angler admitted to retaining all the fish and was cited and released for Take/Possession of Oversized White Sturgeon, which is a class C Felony under new charge classifications, according to officials. In addition, Troopers issued citations for misdemeanor crimes including Take/Possession of White Sturgeon, No Resident Angling License and Angling Prohibited Method-Barbed Hooks, No Resident Angling License and No Combined Angling Tag. Troopers seized Two rods with reels, along with a barbed hook as evidence…

White sturgeon, once plentiful in Oregon waterways, are culturally and ecologically significant, and are a Pacific Northwest icon. Referred to as a living-dinosaur among fish, the sturgeon is long-lived and revered as “living fossils” because they have remained nearly unchanged since they first evolved around 200 million years ago.


Video: Man accused of stealing $25,000 in dinosaur fossils (USA TODAY)

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The report didn’t name to perpetrators nor did it specify the number of poachers or size of the other sturgeon.

Fortunately, all five sturgeon were released alive back into the bay, which is a lake connected to the Columbia River north of Portland.

Also on FTW Outdoors: Catch of enormous ‘living dinosaur’ had anglers in disbelief

“Sturgeon are a long-lived, slow-growing, and late-maturing species,” said Tucker Jones, ODFW Columbia River Program manager. “Management actions taken today can have repercussions long into the future and rebuilding efforts can be quite prolonged. They already face numerous ecological, environmental, and other human-caused challenges on the road to recovery—poaching, especially of adult over-size sturgeon, is a huge issue.”

The sportsmen who reported the poaching qualify for rewards through the Turn in Poachers (TIP) Reward Program. The reward money for reporting game fish is $100.

Photo of 7-foot giant white sturgeon on dock courtesy of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

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