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Sensitive Species

Kootenai River White Sturgeon 

One of the oldest fish in North America, the Kootenai River white sturgeon has survived as a species for millions of years. Archaeologists have found sturgeon fossils over 200 million years old, meaning that they lived when dinosaurs roamed the earth.   These fish are light gray in color, with tube-like mouths located on the underside of their heads. Modification of the Kootenai River has dramatically altered the white sturgeon's life cycle. They are listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  There has been almost no reproduction in the Kootenai River white sturgeon population since 1974, and scientists worry they could be extinct in the next 20 years.    

 

Habitat: Kootenai River white sturgeon are landlocked, meaning that they do not travel to the ocean like salmon do. Scientists think that these fish developed unique characteristics (making them into a separate species) because they became isolated from a larger sturgeon population during the last glacial period at least 10,000 years ago. Now, these fish only dwell throughout the 168 miles of freshwater river between Kootenai Falls, 31 miles below Libby Dam, and Kootenay Lake in British Columbia. They live in the deepest waters of the river, which is where they lay their eggs as well.  

Food: Sturgeon are bottom feeders. Their young feed on the larvae of aquatic insects, crustaceans, and mollusks. 

Facts: A white sturgeon can grow to be over 200 pounds and live 100 years.

 



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Sensitive Species (not a complete list)

Greater sage-grouse
Pygmy rabbit
No. Idaho ground squirrel
So. Idaho ground squirrel
Canada lynx
Grizzly bear
Selkirk Mtns. woodland caribou
Kootenai White River sturgeon
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