A Literature Review on Alligator Gar and Implications for a Reintroduction Project at Mingo National Wildlife Refuge in Southeast Missouri

We performed a literature review on alligator gar (Atractosteus spatula). It revealed that habitat loss and over-harvest has caused this species to decline throughout the southern United States. The literature contained information about range, status, growth, sex determination, ecological roles in various habitats, and the public's perception of this fish. This information leads us to believe that alligator gar could be successfully reintroduced at Mingo National Wildlife Refuge. A fish community sample will be conducted prior to releasing alligator gar into Mingo NWR. We will employ a multi-gear approach to assess fish species richness and community structure. Sampling will include enough effort to detect changes in fish population size structure for selected species of interest (e.g., crappies, shad, buffalo, and carp) which may be affected by alligator gar predation. Stocking is planned for summer 2007. All alligator gar will be PIT- and floy-tagged to obtain reliable recapture data and to assess the efficacy of each tagging method. Ten alligator gar will be radio-tagged prior to release. We will attempt to sample alligator gar twice a year during one-week periods in spring and fall to obtain age/growth data, tag retention, gear efficiency, movement, and habitat use. Before and during this project we will conduct outreach and education efforts. This will include public meetings, small informational meetings, identification posters for anglers, outreach activities for youth, and a three page brochures, news releases, magazine articles, and a DVD.

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