WILD ROSE - It's the only Department of Natural Resources hatchery in the state that raises lake sturgeon.
But up until now, all the work in Wild Rose was being done away from the public view.
On Monday, five sturgeon were released into a display pond at the hatchery.
The DNR hopes the fish can highlight the work that has been going on at the hatchery for decades.
Leo Zamzow and his grandsons were the first to see.
"Do you guys know what kind of fish those are at all?" asked Wild Rose Fish Hatchery supervisor Randy Larson.
"They are lake sturgeon," said Benjamin Parsons, Zamzow's grandson.
"Very good," said Larson.
"We used to come here in the '60s and '70s. The more I start thinking about that, then I can remember that big sturgeon they had here," said Leo Zamsow of Princeton.
After almost 40 years, lake sturgeon are back in this pond at the Wild Rose Fish Hatchery.
"DNR regulations, DATCAP, disease purposes, health concerns, things like that. Since we have the new hatchery renovated now, we're able to put these fish in our display pond," said Larson.
The sturgeon on display are two and a half years old, and were raised on site.
A $17 million dollar state-of-the-art facility is part of $34 million in renovations at the hatchery.
Thirty sturgeon tanks are each filled with more than a thousand fingerlings.
"This guy was spawned this spring. He's running a little over five inches," said Coolwater Hatchery foreman Rich Klett.
The sturgeon feed on shrimp, worms, and ocean krill. In a few months they will be shipped out. It's part of a fifteen year effort to restore the fish to inland waters across the state.
"These were in the Wisconsin River, sturgeon which were spawned below the Wisconsin Dells dam, and will be reintroduced up close to the dam, and Stevens Point flowage, and up in the Merrill area," said Klett.
"We have gone back to these segments of the rivers, and actually have been finding fish 15, 18, 20, 24 inches, so we know that the program is a success, and these fish are actually surviving and growing in these sections that have been cut off by dams," said Larson.
About 30,000 sturgeon will be stocked by the end of the year. Only a couple of underwater ambassadors will stay behind.
"I thought it was a trout hatchery, but I guess they do have other fish here too. Kind of neat to see the sturgeon? Yes," said Parsons.
The Wild Rose Hatchery was built in 1908. In addition to sturgeon, the facility also raises trout, salmon, as well as muskies.
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