The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says the shovelnose sturgeon should receive protection as a threatened species in certain areas because of its appearance.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch said Monday shovelnose sturgeon are sometimes confused with young pallid sturgeon, which are an endangered species.
Fish and Wildlife Service officials proposed last week that due to physical similarities between the two species the shovelnose should also be federally protected in areas where the species overlap.
The federal agency’s proposal is based on an Endangered Species Act section that can protect a species if its appearance is very similar to that of a protected or endangered species.
The targeted areas include the Mississippi River, starting in Alton, Ill., and going downstream, and the Missouri River from Montana to the Mississippi.
The shovelnose sturgeon is already protected from commercial fishing in Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi.
The Post-Dispatch said shovelnose sturgeon are primarily caught for their eggs, which are used for caviar.