- Associated Press - Sunday, June 28, 2015

NEOSHO, Mo. (AP) - An annual effort to help save the endangered pallid sturgeon brought biologists from across the state to Neosho, where they tagged 3,300 of the fish to prepare them for release into the Missouri River.

Thirteen fish biologists tagged the pallid sturgeon at the Neosho National Fish Hatchery in a joint venture of the Missouri Department of Conservation and the Pallid Sturgeon Population Assessment Project. It is funded by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The goal of the program is to monitor the fish along the length of the Missouri River from Montana to St. Louis, The Neosho Daily News reported (http://bit.ly/1eMy52K ).

The species became endangered in the early 1990s and efforts to save it gained traction about 10 years ago, said Kasey Whiteman, a resource science supervisor for the conservation department.

“We’ve made great gains in learning what’s going on with the pallid sturgeon,” he said, adding much is still unknown about some stages of the species’ life cycle, particularly the larvae stage. “There still are a lot of questions we still need to focus on.”

To help answer those questions, fish biologists go to Neosho every year to tag fish for release into the wild. The two-step process starts with “tagging” a fish by removing a scute, or plated armor. Then a passive integrated transponder tag is inserted under the skin to give the fish a unique identifier for tracking.

The fish in Neosho were separated among 32 tanks by mother-father lineage and by which Missouri River boat ramp they will be released. That allows even stocking of family groups along three to 10 locations.

The fish tagged on Tuesday were spawned last year at Blind Pony State Fish Hatchery in Sweet Springs, said Jake Colehour, hatchery manager at Blind Pony. They are shipped to Neosho because Blind Pony’s 200-acre lake has limited space and isn’t able to keep fish in the winter. The Neosho hatchery is fed by warm-water springs and a sturgeon building’s solar water-heating system.

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Information from: Neosho Daily News, http://www.neoshodailynews.com

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