While commercial fishing decimated sturgeon populations, other developments prevented the species from reproducing. Newly constructed dams blocked access to river spawning habitat, while other spawning locations were destroyed by sedimentation from farming and logging and increasing industrial pollution.
These changes, combined with the sturgeon’s slow maturity rate, led to its dramatic decline throughout the great lakes. Today scientists estimate that the sturgeon population to be one percent of its historic average. Today it is estimated that 2,000 adult sturgeons remain in Lake Michigan of the 2 million that lived in the waters during the early 1800s. In the Milwaukee River lake sturgeon haven’t been sighted since the 1890s.
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