BONNERS FERRY, Idaho -- The Kootenai Tribe of Idaho has a long historical
dependence on the white sturgeon of the Kootenai River. Unfortunately, for
many years the sturgeon population has declined for a multitude of reasons,
one of them being dam construction that has altered river flows and
hindered reproduction. The changes caused sand and silt to cover gravels
needed for egg survival.
The fish's survival has become more dependent on the tribe, which has
responded by entering into agreements with other entities and agencies in
an attempt to restore sturgeon populations.
A new chapter in this effort has recently begun. The Kootenai, the Idaho
Department of Fish and Game, and several federal agencies are cooperating
in a program to place large rocks in the river in a section where sturgeon
have historically spawned in an attempt to improve egg and larval survival.
The rocks should provide incubating eggs and hatchlings a refuge from
smothering silt and sand and from predators.
This is a pilot program designed to test the results and to determine the
success it will have for egg and larval releases from the sturgeon hatchery
operated by the Kootenai Tribe. A side project will involve placing
electronic devices in sturgeon in order to monitor their movements in
response to the placement of large rocks.