After nearly 20 years of research, the recent discovery of a pair of mature female sturgeon in Oneida Lake was hailed as a sign of major progress in restoring fish to the area.
The fish were stocked by the state Department of Environmental Conservation in 1995 in an effort to revive threatened populations. The two were found in April carrying eggs downstream of the lake.
In a statement, DEC Commissioner Joseph J. Martens called the discovery a truly significant event.
The restoration of the species is a timely process, as DEC statistics about the species indicate that female sturgeon take 16 to 25 years to mature and breed once every four years. In comparison, male sturgeon take eight to 16 years to mature.
In addition to the pair found near Oneida Lake, another female sturgeon recently was found upstream of Black Lake in St. Lawrence County.
The sturgeon discoveries are positive given their overall decline, which has been linked to overfishing and the impact of dams and dredging. According to DEC, lake sturgeon are at about 1 percent of their total population levels prior to the 1850s.
DEC officials hope to catch some of the sturgeon produced this spring in a few years for further research.
More information about the states sturgeon can be found at www.dec.ny.gov/animals/7025.html.