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Dakota Midday: New Research Explains Endangered Pallid Sturgeon Decline

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Photo by Ken Bouc; Nebraska Game and Parks Commission
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Weighing up to 80 pounds and growing up to a length of six feet, the pallid sturgeon is one of the largest fresh water fish species in North America. It can also live 50 years or more. But even though pallid sturgeon come from a genetic line going back tens of millions of years, it’s been decades since there has been documentation of the large fish successfully producing young that survive into adulthood on the upper Missouri River basin. The pallid sturgeon was placed on the endangered species list 25 years ago.

A new paper published in the journal, Fisheries, explains why pallid sturgeon in the Missouri have been declining. The lead author on the paper is Christopher Guy, assistant unit leader with the USGS Montana Cooperative Fishery Unit and professor at Montana State University. He joined Dakota Midday and explained why the finding is significant and what it means for conservation efforts.

Karl was born to northeastern South Dakota crouton farmers, but was orphaned as a toddler during the Great Salad War (1966-67). Rescued by a flock of chickadees, he grew up in the woodlands of Sica Hollow. Legends of a bird boy living in the trees attracted the interest of renowned ornithologist and amateur bandoneon repairman Dr. Vogel Gehrke. With a handful of suet, Dr. Gehrke coaxed the timid boy down from the trees. He adopted him, named him Karl and taught him not to molt on the carpet. Dr. Gehrke’s book, The Bird Boy of Sica Hollow, was a best seller and Karl became a minor celebrity and teen idol. He appeared as a guest star on numerous television programs, most notably an awkward role on The Love Boat as the boyfriend of Captain Stubing’s daughter, Vicki. After critics panned his 1980 album, Bird Boy Does Disco, Karl retreated from public life and returned to Sica Hollow. Living in an isolated tree house, Karl achieved a reputation as a mystic. Pilgrims and seekers from around the world came to ask him about the meaning of life and for vinaigrette recipes. Growing tired of answering questions, he climbed down from his tree, shaved his massive white beard and took a job as the host of SDPB Radio’s Dakota Midday where he could ask the questions instead. After three years in that position, he ran out of questions and became host of Jazz Nightly instead. Karl makes his home in Vermillion with his charming wife Kari and three delightful children, Kodey, Kasey and Spatula. His hobbies include reciting the alphabet, combing his hair and doing volunteer work with delinquent songbirds.
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