Helping Mother Nature

Personnel from the Kansas Department of Wildlife & Parks were at Marion Reservoir last week to gather and fertilize walleye eggs during the spawning season of the popular sport fish. By artificially fertilizing the eggs, then taking them to the fish hatchery at Milford Reservoir, the rate of successful births increases from around 10 percent in the wild to more than 40 percent, according to KDWP biologist Ron Marteney of El Dorado.

Once caught, the fish are brought to the boat dock at Marion Cove, where a small crowd of onlookers watch Matt Phillips and Marvin Peterson, conservation officer from Lincolnville, begin the process of ?milking? the eggs and sperm from the walleye. By rubbing firmly on the underside of the female, a stream of eggs is emptied into a small bucket on the bench. When enough eggs are gathered, sperm from a male is added to the bucket in much the same manner. The fish are released once the procedure is concluded. When the buckets are sufficiently filled, they are removed from the bench and the contents stirred to enhance fertilization. Clay powder has been added to the water, which keeps the naturally sticky eggs from clumping together. After about three minutes of stirring, the eggs are poured a larger container for transport to the hatchery. The process, which has been conducted intermittently at Marion Reservoir for many years, will continue this week for as long as it is productive.

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