Gaylord man faces jail time for poaching 55-inch sturgeon in Otsego Lake

This 55-inch sturgeon was seized by Michigan Department of Natural Resources conservation officers after it was illegally snagged in Otsego County. A tip from the public alerted officers to the illegal activity. A report has been forwarded to the Otsego County Prosecutor’s Office for review. (Photo Courtesy: Michigan Department of Natural Resources)

OTSEGO COUNTY, Mich., (WPBN/WGTU) -- A Gaylord man could face jail time after the Department of Natural Resources said he confessed to poaching a 55-inch sturgeon in Otsego County.

The DNR said a conservation officer was called to Otsego Lake on Monday, March 12, when a citizen reported about an individual in possession of an illegally taken sturgeon.

Investigators said surveillance and interviewing witnesses helped them identify the suspect.

Records show the man confessed to snagging the fish in the abdomen area and pulling it through the ice by hand after drilling several holes around the original holes to remove the sturgeon from the water.

According to the DNR, sturgeon can only be taken with a hook and line in Otsego Lake.

The fish and equipment used in the illegal taking were seized as evidence, according to the DNR.

“We appreciate the public’s vigilance as we work together to protect our shared natural resources,” said Lt. Jim Gorno, district supervisor for the DNR Law Enforcement Division. “Our conservation officer quickly followed up on the citizen’s information and identified the suspect through good police work. It’s this type of cooperation that will help us preserve our world-class resources for generations to come.”

The case is being sent to the Otsego County Prosecutor's Office for review and the suspect's name is being withheld arraignment.

According to the DNR, the taking or possessing a sturgeon in violation of Michigan law is punishable by 30 to 180 days in jail, a fine ranging from $500 to $2,000 or both.

Anyone with information regarding a poaching incident or other violations of the state's natural resources protection laws is asked to call or text the Report All Poaching (RAP) hotline at (800) 292-7800.

Lake sturgeon are listed as a threatened species in Michigan and can live up to 150 years.

To learn more about the regulations involved in the fishing surgeon, visit the DNR's website.

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