Missouri scientists try to save alligator gar population

SAN ANGELO, TX - JULY 25: The carcass of an alligator gar rests along the shore at the edge of a small pool of red sludge-like water at the base of the dam at O.C. Fisher Lake on July 25, 2011 in San Angelo, Texas. The 5,440 acre lake which was established to provide flood control and serve as a secondary drinking water source for San Angelo and the surrounding communities is now dry following an extended drought in the region. The lake which has a maximum depth of 58 feet is also used for boating, fishing and swimming. The San Angelo area has seen only 2.5 inches of rain this year. The past nine months have been the driest in Texas since record keeping began in 1895, with 75% of the state classified as exceptional drought, the worst level. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. – Missouri scientists are trying to save the state’s dwindling population of alligator gar, one of the country’s largest and most feared fish species.

KWMU-FM reports that Missouri Department of Conservation officials have stocked the species in locations near the Mississippi River eight times in the last 12 years.

Alligator gar have declined in part because the state doesn’t have strict regulations to prevent overfishing of the species that’s known for its long body, large snout and numerous teeth.

Nicholls State University aquatic ecologist Solomon David says levees and dams separating the Mississippi River from the flood plain also block the species from reaching critical habitat.

State fisheries management biologist Salvador Mondragon says gar prey on Asian carp and other invasive species.

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