Illinois angler arrested for harvesting and selling sturgeon eggs

An Illinois man has been arrested for harvesting shovelnose sturgeon from the Wabash River and selling the sturgeon eggs.

DNR announced today that Aaron Taylor, 34, of Darwin, is being held in the Clark County jail on charges of unlawful sale of protected aquatic life. Taylor did not possess a valid Illinois roe harvester permit. The arrest was made as part of a joint operation with the Indiana DNR. Another man, Larry L. Bryan, 66, also of Darwin, received several citations for boating violations and was released.

According to DNR, female shovelnose sturgeon living in the Wabash River, are targeted by commercial fisherman in both states for the eggs that they produce. Shovelnose sturgeon migrate upstream annually to spawn, or to lay their eggs. These eggs, referred to as roe, are eventually sold, processed, and distributed as caviar. A dedicated license to harvest shovelnose sturgeon using commercial fishing devices is required by both Indiana and Illinois. This license allows the license holder to harvest shovelnose sturgeon for the roe, and to sell the roe to a licensed roe dealer. The established season for taking sturgeon with commercial fishing devices in both Indiana and Illinois is from Oct. 1 to May 31.

Additional misdemeanor charges against Taylor include 2 counts of fishing without a valid commercial fishing license, 2 counts of taking shovelnose sturgeon without a roe harvesters permit, 8 counts of failing to properly tag commercial fishing nets, 12 counts of unlawful sale of aquatic life, 1 count of unlawful possession of protected aquatic life, and 1 count of failure to maintain records of commercial catch.

Taylor’s commercial fishing nets, as well as the boat that Taylor and Bryan were using to transport the illegally taken fish, were seized by Illinois CPOs.

Read more about this case in the April 5 issue of Illinois Outdoor News.

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