LA CROSSE, Wis. (WXOW) - COVID-19 is impacting the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's annual sturgeon spawning process.
Locally, the Genoa Fish Hatchery is one of the largest sturgeon culture facilities in the country. The program has restored sturgeon populations across the country.
According to the U.S. National Wildlife Service, the hatchery produced over 170,000 fish for stocking and nearly 100,000 in collected eggs in 2019 alone.
"The breadth of their program is just amazing. It's a wonderful program for the public," said Hatchery program advisor Kurt Schilling.
The spawning process requires multiple people working together in close proximity, and that's making it difficult for employees to social distance. The issue is forcing the FWS to cancel several spawning and egg taking procedures this year.
So what does that mean for future sturgeon populations?
"In the larger picture, it is not a huge impact," Schilling said. "Because the fish vary from year to year in terms of how well they do naturally."
Wildlife officials say the health and safety of their employees and the public is top priority right now.