Recovery Progress Report for the Endangered Kootenai River White Sturgeon, Acipenser transmontanus

Stephen D. Duke
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1387 South Vinnell Way, Room 368, Boise, ID, 83709; 208-378-5243; 208-378-5262 (fax);
Robert Hallock,
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Upper Columbia River Basin Office, 11103 East Montgomery Dr., Suite #2, Spokane, WA, 99206; 509-891-6839; 509-891-6748 (fax);

The Kootenai River population of white sturgeon (Acipenser transmontanus) was listed as endangered in the United States on September 6, 1994 by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This transboundary population, residing in the Kootenai River of the United States and Kootenay Lake in British Columbia, Canada, was isolated from other white sturgeon in the Columbia River basin approximately 10,000 years ago during the last glacial age. The unique population of white sturgeon has been in general decline since the mid-1960s primarily due to low recruitment from natural reproduction. Human activities have changed the natural flow regime of the Kootenai River, altering the white sturgeon's spawning, egg incubation, nursery, and rearing habitats, and reducing overall biological productivity. A recovery plan, developed in cooperation with several State, Federal, Tribal and Provincial agencies in the United States and Canada, was completed in
1999. This paper provides a progress report on recent recovery efforts, focusing on Kootenai River flow augmentation during the spring reproduction period; a conservation aquaculture program to prevent extirpation; and habitat restoration including fertilization of Kootenay Lake in British Columbia, Canada.