PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Several sturgeon, including one that was more than 7 feet long, were seized from poachers and released back into Scappoose Bay in March, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife said in a press release Thursday.
According to ODFW, the poachers were caught after troopers received a tip from sportsmen fishing along the banks of Scappoose Bay that people had caught but not released the protected fish.
Oregon State Police Fish & Wildlife Troopers Scott Bernardi and Justin Morgan responded to the call and spent two days monitoring the area before finding and approaching men who were moored at a dock, ODFW said.
The men said they didn’t catch any fish, but Bernardi and Morgan saw two fishing lines leading into the water, officials said. That’s when the troopers pulled up the lines and found four live sturgeon that were hitched underwater.
The troopers went to look in the boat and then found an 88-inch giant white sturgeon, the department said. According to state wildlife officials, it takes between 50 and 80 years for the fish to grow that large.
Officials said one of the anglers admitted to keeping all the fish. He was cited, released and faces a felony charge of Take/Possession of Oversized White Sturgeon. Several more citations for misdemeanors were issued, as well.
All five of the fish were freed back into the bay alive, officials said, including the giant white sturgeon.
State wildlife officials said although sturgeon were once plentiful in the Pacific Northwest, they’re now protected fish as they grow larger and take longer to mature than most others.
The state offers cash rewards to people like the fishermen who called in the tip through the Turn in Poachers program. ODFW said those fishermen qualify.