Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: South Dakota
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

South Dakota Project

Lake Sturgeon Population Characteristics, Movements and Habitat Use in Namakan Reservoir

April 2008 - April 2012


Participating Agencies

  • National Park Service

he lake sturgeon (Acipenser fulvescens) is a Minnesota state-listed species of special concern. In Canada, western populations of lake sturgeon are considered to be endangered and the Rainy River-Lake of the Woods populations to be of special concern. Since the late 1800s lake sturgeon populations have declined in the Laurentian Great Lakes. These declines have been attributed to loss or fragmentation of crucial spawning, nursery, and feeding habitats. A new threat to sturgeon has emerged in the Namakan Reservoir. A private company in Ontario in collaboration with the Lac La Croix First Nation is proposing to generate hydroelectric power on at least three sites on the Namakan River, the major spawning tributary for sturgeon in the Namakan Reservoir. Historic information and preliminary data from the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (OMNR) suggests that movements of spawning sturgeon would be affected. Preliminary data also suggest that sturgeon that spawn in the Namakan River move throughout the Namakan Reservoir and therefore are an internationally shared stock. To best mitigate the potential impacts of this hydropower development, information is needed about relative importance of spawning locations and the movements of sturgeon within and between different parts of the reservoir.