Missouri Caviar-Paddlefish Special Investigation

One of Missouri's largest and most unique game fish, the paddlefish, faced a threat that potentially was as great as the loss of spawning grounds resulting from construction ofdams. Poachers, well aware of Missouri's reputation for large concentrations of these primitive filter feeders, were reaping huge profits by illegally netting the fish and selling the roe as caviar. Covert investigators with the Missouri Department of Conservation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service infiltrated groups operating on the Osage River in Warsaw, Missouri, as well as another group based on the James River of Table Rock Lake. After 18 months of work, the network that moved eggs from Missouri streams to caviar dealers throughout the country was uncovered and prosecuted.

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