Species Profile

White Sturgeon Upper Kootenay River population

Scientific Name: Acipenser transmontanus
Taxonomy Group: Fishes
COSEWIC Range: British Columbia
COSEWIC Assessment Date and Status Change: November 2012
COSEWIC Status: Endangered
COSEWIC Status Criteria: A3bc+4bc; C1+2a(ii); E
COSEWIC Reason for Designation: This large-bodied fish occurs at only one or two locations in the upper Kootenay River. The species has declined considerably over the last century, to fewer than 1,000 adults, owing to habitat fragmentation and degradation, and recruitment failure. Modeling predicts an 80% chance of extinction of the population within the next two generations.
COSEWIC History of Status Designation: The species was considered a single unit and designated Special Concern in April 1990. Status re-examined and designated Endangered in November 2003. Split into four populations in November 2012. The Upper Kootenay River population was designated Endangered in November 2012.
SARA Status: Schedule 1, Endangered
Date of Listing (yyyy-mm-dd): 2006-08-15

Please note that this information is provided for general information purposes only. For the most up to date and accurate list of species listed under the Species at Risk Act, please see the Justice Laws Website.

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Related Species

Species COSEWIC
Status
SARA
Status
White Sturgeon Non-active Special Concern
White Sturgeon Non-active Endangered
White Sturgeon Non-active Endangered
White Sturgeon Non-active Endangered

Quick Links: | Protection | National Recovery Program | Documents

Protection

Federal Protection

The White Sturgeon, Upper Kootenay River population, is protected under the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA). More information about SARA, including how it protects individual species, is available in the Species at Risk Act: A Guide.

Provincial and Territorial Protection

To know if this species is protected by provincial or territorial laws, consult the provinces' and territories' websites.

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Documents

PLEASE NOTE: Not all COSEWIC reports are currently available on the SARA Public Registry. Most of the reports not yet available are status reports for species assessed by COSEWIC prior to May 2002. Other COSEWIC reports not yet available may include those species assessed as Extinct, Data Deficient or Not at Risk. In the meantime, they are available on request from the COSEWIC Secretariat.

21 record(s) found.

COSEWIC Status Reports

  • COSEWIC Assessment and Update Status Report on the White Sturgeon Acipenser transmontanus in Canada (2013-11-13)

    Sturgeons are part of an ancient lineage of ray-finned fishes. Most of their internal skeleton (including the skull) is composed of cartilage; however, there are superficial bones on the surface of the head and several distinct rows of diamond-shaped bony projections (scutes) on the body. Sturgeons have conspicuous barbels on their snouts. Two species occur along the Pacific Coast of Canada: the Green Sturgeon, Acipenser medirostris, and the White Sturgeon, Acipenser transmontanus. They are distinguished by colour: the lower flanks are greenish in the Green Sturgeon and dark grey shading into white in the White Sturgeon. Usually there is a dark stripe along the ventral midline of the Green Sturgeon, whereas the ventral surface of the White Sturgeon is white. Although the White Sturgeon is primarily a freshwater species, some individuals enter the sea. In contrast, in Canada, the Green Sturgeon is primarily a marine fish but occasionally occurs in estuaries and the tidal areas of large rivers. The White Sturgeon is the largest freshwater fish in Canada, and is the focus of an important recreational fishery in the Lower Fraser River, British Columbia (BC).

Response Statements

  • Response Statement - White Sturgeon, Upper Kootenay River population (2013-12-18)

    This large-bodied fish occurs at only one or two locations in the upper Kootenay River. The species has declined considerably over the last century, to fewer than 1,000 adults, owing to habitat fragmentation and degradation, and recruitment failure. Modeling predicts an 80% chance of extinction of the population within the next two generations.

COSEWIC Annual Reports

  • COSEWIC Annual Report – 2012-2013 (2013-09-24)

    Under Canada’s Species at Risk Act (SARA), the foremost function of COSEWIC is to “assess the status of each wildlife species considered by COSEWIC to be at risk and, as part of the assessment, identify existing and potential threats to the species”. COSEWIC held two Wildlife Species Assessment Meetings in this reporting year (October, 2012 to September 2013) from November 25 to November 30, 2012 and from April 28 to May 3, 2013. During the current reporting period, COSEWIC assessed the status or reviewed the classification of 73 wildlife species. The wildlife species assessment results for the 2012-2013 reporting period include the following: Extinct: 0 Extirpated: 2 Endangered: 28 Threatened: 19 Special Concern: 19 Data Deficient: 4 Not at Risk: 1 Total: 73 Of the 73 wildlife species examined, COSEWIC reviewed the classification of 50 species that had been previously assessed. The review of classification for 26 of those species resulted in a confirmation of the same status as the previous assessment.

Permits and Related Agreements

  • Explanation for issuing other simliar documents(#17-HPAC-01145 ), persuant to the provisions of section 74 of SARA (2018-03-12)

    The activity involves replacing a Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) navigational aid in Kootenay Lake. The site of work is located within the Creston Delta critical habitat polygon for White Sturgeon (Acipenser transmontanus), Kootenay River population. A dolphin composed of three 12-inch diameter steel piles will be installed in the lake substrate. Navigational aid infrastructure including light components will be installed on top of the dolphin. The existing navigational aid infrastructure and the nine supporting 12 inch treated wood piles will be removed. The works will be completed from an anchored spud barge. Pile removal and replacement works will be completed with mitigation as appropriate to limit White Sturgeon from temporary sediment disturbance and acoustic impacts. Mitigation methods alternative to fish salvage will be employed and thus capture and handling of White Sturgeon is not required. Offsetting will result in a reduction of pile footprint within White Sturgeon critical habitat.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#16-PPAC-00010), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2016-06-01)

    Activities consist of the following: a) capture of adult White Sturgeon (Kootenay River population) using set lines and hook and line angling, b) examination for previous markings, c) length and weight measurements, d) marking with PIT tags and removal of 2L scutes (for newly captured individuals, or those with failed markings), e) tagging with sonic transmitters (for females expected to spawn in the same or in the following year), f) surgically assessing adults for sexual development condition, and g) performing necropsies opportunistically.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#19-PPAC-00029), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2019-10-21)

    i. Capture of White Sturgeon (Upper Kootenay River population) in gillnets set in the Corra Linn Dam forebay, as part of scientific research to determine fish species presence, fish habitat use, and relative abundance. ii. Backpack or boat electroshocking of White Sturgeon (Upper Kootenay River population), as part of scientific research to determine fish species presence, fish habitat use, and relative abundance. iii. Recovery from handling of White Sturgeon in activities i and ii, followed by release.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#20-HPAC-00570 ), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2020-05-29)

    Fish sampling and stranding recovery activities are components of the post-construction monitoring requirements of Fisheries Act authorization 17-HPAC-00161. Side channel floodplain habitat with seasonal connectivity to Kootenay River was created as offsetting for the Fisheries Act authorization. Fish sampling is conducted annually in the side channel as flood waters recede to monitor habitat productivity and to assess offsetting habitat value. White Sturgeon (Acipenser transmontanus, Kootenay River Population) may be incidentally captured during fish sampling. In addition, the side channel habitat will be surveyed to identify any isolated pools that may have formed when flood waters receded. Any stranded White Sturgeon individuals will be captured, handled and released to suitable habitat within the adjacent Kootenay River main channel. Should isolated pools be found, the area will be re-graded to prevent future fish stranding.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#20-PPAC-00003 ), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2020-03-01)

    Retrieval of White Sturgeon carcasses from the Columbia or Kootenay river systems; transport of the carcasses to a Fisheries and Oceans Canada Fishery Officer or to an authorized animal health laboratory; and, disposal of the carcasses if so directed by a Fisheries and Oceans Canada Fishery Officer.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#DFO-16-HPAC-00822), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2016-08-10)

    An investigative study on juvenile white sturgeon use of seasonally-inundated mudflats in the Kootenay River Delta, for the purpose of supplementing the exploration of options for upgrades to the Kootenay Landing Bridge. The study will involve the capture and handling of white sturgeon individuals. Capture will be conducted through the use of fyke nets, which was determined to be the lowest impact capture method.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#DFO-17-PPAC-00003), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2017-03-27)

    A permit has been requested for two ongoing activities carried out by the applicant: 1) Carcass Collection: Provide on-call service for the retrieval, transport, examination and disposal of deceased White Sturgeon in the Upper Columbia River, Pend d'Oreille River and Kootenay River. 2) Live Rescue/Relocation: Provide on-call service for the retrieval, transport, and release of White Sturgeon trapped or stranded in hydro-electric facilities or elsewhere in the Upper Columbia River, Pend d'Oreille River and Kootenay River.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#DFO-17-PPAC-00024), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2017-08-23)

    Live Rescue/Relocation: The capture, collection of biological data, transport, and release of White Sturgeon trapped or stranded in hydro-electric facilities or elsewhere in the Upper Columbia River, Pend d'Oreille River and Kootenay River.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#DFO-PAF SARA 239), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2013-03-19)

    Authorized representatives of Golder Associates Ltd will carry out the retrieval and examination of White Sturgeon carcasses in order to collect information on the species. The ultimate goal of the activities is to assist in the recovery of this species by gathering data as to the deceased sturgeon's history and biological information.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#DFO-PAF SARA 267), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2013-06-09)

    Authorized representatives of Freshwater Fisheries Society of British Columbia receive up to 150,000 Kootenay River White Sturgeon eggs each year from the Kootenai Tribe of Idaho sturgeon hatchery, for rearing in the Kootenay Trout hatchery at Cranbrook, BC and eventual release. Up to 15,000 juveniles may be released annually in the Spring and Fall into US waters of the Kootenai River, in order to assist in population recovery. This activity is considered beneficial for maintaining the population in the wild because natural recruitment is low.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#DFO-PAF SARA 294), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2013-06-01)

    Authorized representatives of the BC Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations will carry out White Sturgeon sampling in order to assess the recovery progress of Kootenay River White Sturgeon within British Columbia. The ultimate goal of the activities is to assist in the recovery of this species by monitoring recovery efforts for White Sturgeon.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#DFO-PAF SARA 295), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2013-04-29)

    Authorized representatives of BC Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations will catch and implant ultrasonic tags in adult sturgeon in order to identify habitat usage. The ultimate goal of the activities is to assist in the recovery of this species by assessing the progress of recovery efforts and collect data on habitat usage.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#DFO-PAF SARA 309), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2013-10-09)

    Authorized representatives of SNC Lavalin, Environment and Water will carry out a fish monitoring. Activities will have minimal effects on the species at risk as per the pre-conditions outlined below.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#DFO-PAF SARA 310), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2014-02-14)

    Authorized representatives of Golder Associates Ltd. will carry out a White Sturgeon carcass recovery and live rescue/relocation program in order to assist government agencies with data collection on the species. The ultimate goal of the activities is to assist in the recovery of this species by gaining more information about White Sturgeon mortality causes and to ensure the survival of White Sturgeon caught in hydroelectric tubes.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#DFO-PAF SARA 337), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2014-07-01)

    Authorized representatives of the British Columbia Ministry of Environment will rear and study surplus White Sturgeon eggs in order to collect data on the effects that different conditions have on White Sturgeon. The ultimate goal of the activities is to assist in the recovery of this species by understanding how different substrate and rearing conditions affect the species' spawning behavior.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#DFO-PAF SARA 339), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2014-09-02)

    Authorized representatives of BC Hydro & Power Authority will capture and relocate White Sturgeon in order to dewater the Kootenay Canal for dam safety improvements and maintenance. Activities will have minimal effects on this species at risk as per the pre-conditions outlined below.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#DFO-PAF SARA 359), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2015-04-01)

    Authorized representatives of BC Hydro & Power Authority will conduct a monitoring program in order to collect fish stranding data to assess the impact of flow changes from Hugh L. Keenleyside Dam/Arrow Lakes Resevoir and Brilliant Dam/Expansion on the native fish species of the lower Columbia and Kootenay Rivers. Opportunistic sampling of salvaged white sturgeon will occur. If stranded white sturgeon are located they will be captured by electrofishing, dipnets, and beach seines. The ultimate goal of the activities is to assist in the recovery of this species by assessing the impact of flow reductions and flow ramping rates.
  • >> See more Permits and Related Agreements documents
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