Wisconsin Sturgeon Biologist Charged In Illegal Caviar Bust
This story is so Wisconsin. While it may be bizarre and a little bit of weird news, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources isn't laughing about it. Recently and investigation led to charges against one of Wisconsin's top sturgeon biologists nicked named the "Sturgeon General."
A criminal complaint has been made against Ryan Koenigs alleging that he lied to investigators about his involvement in collecting and providing sturgeon roe eggs to processors. An investigation began in 2017, and Koenigs was interviewed on January 27, 2020. Koenigs has been a well respected biologist for the Winnebago Lake System. His duties included being in charge of registration stations, quotas, and egg numbers.
According to WBAY.com, when asked by investigators why there were fisheries staff were collecting sturgeon eggs for caviar, Koenigs denied said he didn't know the processor. Phone records show he called on May 10, and 11, and Koenigs said he doesn't remember what the calls were about. He also said he was unaware of DNR staff providing eggs to processors.
In a later phone interview Koenigs admitted on the phone that staff were bringing eggs to processors after research instead of throwing the eggs away. He also admitted that processors give him 20-30 jars a year for colleagues and personal consumption.
A search warrant was issued at his home and his phone was seized. There had been a factory reset recently done on the phone. There also was a note in a notebook that warned about Wardens listening on radio waves.
Koenigs is set to appear in court on March 29. He could be fined up to $10,000 and up to 9 months behind bars.
As anyone knows, the DNR is very serious when it comes to violations like this. On an editorial note, is this crime really harming anyone? The eggs were going to be thrown out anyway, and instead they made caviar out of them and shared it with friends and family. If there was no financial gain, I don't really see the harm caused. It would seem like a waste to throw out the eggs after the research was done. But obviously laws are laws, and it allegedly Koenigs knew what he was doing was illegal. We'll have to see what comes out of this.