JEFFERSON, Texas (KTAL/KMSS) – Since 1977, the paddlefish is a threatened species in Texas. The paddlefish is the oldest surviving species in North America. In addition, the paddlefish is older than dinosaurs by fifty million years. “The number of paddlefish has decreased in Texas because of damming rivers where water flows are interrupted and over fishing,” said Texas Parks and Wildlife Biologist Tim Bister.
With the building of the Lake O the Pines Dam, U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s Project Manager Mike Montagne belie the dam messed up the habitat for the paddlefish. As a result, wildlife officers were not seeing many paddlefish being reproduced. “In 2011, we instituted an environmental flows program coming out of Lake O the Pines to control the natural flows for the area,” said Montagne.
In 2018, officials came up with a ten year plan to help increase the numbers of paddlefish. Today, TPWD and USFWS released 2,000 paddlefish into Big Cypress Bayou in Jefferson, Texas. At the end of the ten year plan, they will have released over 100,000 paddlefish in area waterways. “We go back out and catch some of the fish. Later on, we put radio tags inside the fish and sow them up. In addition, we put out radio receivers out in the bayous where we believe they are going to reproduce,” said Montagne.