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South Dakota hatchery to release 90K paddlefish

Posted September 8

— A fish hatchery in South Dakota will release more than 90,000 American paddlefish into two reservoirs over the next two weeks.

Gavins Point Fish Hatchery plans to release the fish in Lake Francis Case and Lake Sharpe, the Press and Dakotan reported . Both reservoirs are good for maintaining paddlefish populations, but the fish's reproductive habitats have diminished and created a need for stocking.

"Paddlefish grow well in reservoir systems, but they don't reproduce well," said Jeff Powell, project leader at the hatchery. "They lost a lot of their spawning habitat with the creation of the dams along the Missouri River, but these reservoirs still provide great habitats for them to live and grow because there are large plankton populations for the fish to feed on."

The hatchery has been stocking Lake Francis Case with paddlefish for three decades and Lake Sharpe for about three years. The hatchery said this year's release is its largest yet, with about 50,000 of the paddlefish to be released into Lake Sharpe to boost its population.

"We want to have healthy and genetically appropriate paddlefish populations everywhere," Powell said. "South Dakota is a big part of their natural habitat along the Missouri River."

The hatchery raises paddlefish from May through September. Brood adults are captured at the mouth of the White River and brought back to the hatchery for breeding. Once the eggs hatch, the ponds are stocked with the fish.

Paddlefish, considered a sport fish, are a prehistoric species and sometimes survive for more than 50 years.

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