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People of the Sturgeon; Wisconsin's Love Affair with an Ancient Fish

By Kathleen Schmitt Kline, Ronald M Bruch, Frederick P Binkowski, Bob Rashid

People of the Sturgeon tells the poignant story of an ancient fish. Wanton harvest and habitat loss took a heavy toll on these prehistoric creatures until they teetered on the brink of extinction. But in Wisconsin, lake sturgeon have flourished because of the dedicated work of Department of Natural Resources staff, university researchers, and a determined group of spearers known as Sturgeon For Tomorrow. Thanks to these efforts, spearers can still flock by the thousands to Lake Winnebago's frozen expanse each winter to take part in a ritual rooted in the traditions of the Menominee and other Wisconsin Indians. In spring sturgeon enthusiasts line east-central Wisconsin riverbanks to observe--and protect--the massive fish as they spawn. Ultimately, 100 years of sturgeon management on Wisconsin's Lake Winnebago has produced the world's largest and healthiest lake sturgeon population--and may hold answers for struggling sturgeon populations elsewhere. Through a fascinating collection of images, stories, and interviews, People of the Sturgeon chronicles the history of this remarkable fish (which can live for a century and grow to 300 pounds) and the cultural traditions it has spawned. The authors introduce a colorful cast of characters, from conservationists to spear makers to decoy carvers--many with a good fish tale to tell. Color photos by the late Bob Rashid and vintage images from the Wisconsin Historical Society evoke both the magical and the mundane. Weaving together myriad voices and examining the sturgeon's profound cultural impact, the authors reveal how a diverse group of people are now joined together as "people of the sturgeon."

  • Published: January 2009
  • Genre: Book
  • Minnesota Sea Grant product number: F35
  • Format: Printed Material
  • $29.95

 

 

 


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