Sturgeons making a comeback in Coosa River system

photo A young lake sturgeon in is shown in the palm of a hand.

CALHOUN, Ga. - For eons, seven-foot long lake sturgeons cruised the muddy bottoms of Northwest Georgia rivers until they were wiped out 50 years ago.

But if scientists and volunteers have their way, the ancient fish will be cruising again.

A crew from Georgia's Fisheries Management section dumped 4,200 French fry-sized sturgeon into the Oostanaula River on Friday, the latest step in the decades-long plan to reintroduce the prehistoric species.

The last sighting of the sturgeon in the Coosa River system -- which includes the Conasauga, Coosawattee, Cartecay, Etowah, Oostanaula and Chattooga rivers -- occurred in 1960. Scientists believe pollution and habitat degradation doomed the native fish, but now that rivers have been cleared up, they believe the sturgeon -- hatched from eggs laid in Wisconsin -- can make a comeback.