ALBANY — The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, under Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s NY Open for Hunting and Fishing Initiative, has adopted a conservation management plan for one of New York’s most imperiled fish species, the sauger.
Sauger are uniquely adapted to thrive in large turbid rivers and lakes and were once common in New York portions of Lake Erie, Lake Ontario, the St. Lawrence River and Lake Champlain.
Only the Lake Champlain sauger population remains and even in this area the recent records of their occurrence are scarce. Sauger are also native to the Allegheny River, however pollution in the late 19th and much of the 20th centuries led to their extirpation. The population in the lower river is recovering; however access to much of the New York portion of the watershed is blocked by a dam.
“Sauger were once prominent members of New York’s fish fauna, but are now at risk of being extirpated from the state,” DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said in a press release. “Actions including stocking, habitat assessments, population monitoring, and public outreach will be implemented under this plan, which will start the process of restoring sauger to its native range in New York waters.”
The goal of the plan is to establish and maintain sauger populations in all suitable waters of native watersheds by 2030.
The three objectives of the plan include:
▶ Establishing a self-sustaining sauger population in the upper Allegheny River watershed.
▶ Determining sauger population status and documenting and improving habitat suitability in Lake Champlain.
▶ Determining the suitability of Lake Erie’s eastern basin watershed for sauger restoration.
These objectives are designed to be implemented through 2020. Progress made toward meeting these objectives will serve as guidance in the development of new objectives and management recommendations for the period 2021 through 2030.
The NY Open for Hunting and Fishing Initiative is an effort to improve recreational activities for in-state and out-of-state sportsmen and sportswomen and to boost tourism opportunities throughout the state, the press release states. This initiative includes the streamlining of hunting and fishing licensing and reducing license fees; improved access for fishing at various sites across the state; stocking as much as 900,000 pounds of fish; expanding fishing clinics; and increasing hunting opportunities in various regions.
ON THE WEB
The final Sauger conservation management plan is available on the DEC website at www.dec.ny.gov.