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TVA tracking sturgeon comeback in the Tennessee River system

After dying out in the '60s, 220,000 sturgeon were stocked in the upper Tennessee River and the population is doing well

KINGSTON, Tenn. — This TVA fish tale is a real success story.

A fish species that's been around since the time of the dinosaurs is making a comeback in the Tennessee River

Sturgeon, a native fish species in Tennessee, died out here in the 1960s, but in 2001, TVA was part of a project to bring them back.

Since 2001, 220,000 sturgeon have been stocked in the upper Tennessee River, and every year, teams from TVA, TWRA, U.S. Fish and Wildlife and UT go out to check on how they're doing.

The researchers use a trotline to catch sturgeon in different reservoirs to weigh, measure, and check their general health.

So far, the prognosis is good.

"Just to have these fish back in the river, swimming freely between our dams, hopefully spawning in the near future. It's just a great feeling. We must be doing something right," said David Matthews, a TVA Aquatics Zoologist.

The teams are also tagging the fish so they can track their progress. Sturgeon can live up to 150 years.

Sturgeon are protected in Tennessee, so if you catch one you have to throw it back.

Even though you can't keep it, TWRA encourages anglers to take a picture of the fish and send them pertinent information, such as time and location of capture, and the length of the lake sturgeon by emailing sturgeon.reports@tn.gov. That information will also be used in the tracking studies.

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