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RUPERT — During the fall of 2018, Fish and Game Conservation Officer John Beer investigated a report about two Minidoka County men who had illegally harvested a large sturgeon. The men saw it while fishing on the south side spillway of the Minidoka Dam. They loaded the huge fish into the trunk of a Dodge Intrepid and left the area. The fish was approximately 5½ feet long, with the age and weight unknown.

White sturgeon is a highly regulated species in Idaho; there is no legal harvest. State law allows for catch-and-release fishing in much of the state. The fish are prohibited from being taken out of the water. White sturgeon is a very slow-growing species, and illegal removal can greatly impact sport fishery for all Idaho anglers.

Sturgeon

Poached white sturgeon. The fish is catch-and-release only in Idaho.

In October 2018, illegal possession of sturgeon charges were filed in Minidoka County court. Both men pleaded guilty to charges and were sentenced in April.

Michael Dewhirst of Rupert pleaded guilty to possession of a sturgeon during a closed season. He was sentenced to 180 days suspended jail time, a fine of $150, court costs of $165, 12 months probation and ordered to pay $250 in restitution to the state of Idaho for the sturgeon.

Anthony Eaton of Heyburn pled guilty to aiding in the commission of a misdemeanor. He was sentenced to 68 days suspended jail time and court costs of $165.

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