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As an angler, I understand why some sturgeon fishers are concerned by the possibility of these irreplaceable fish getting Endangered Species Act protections ("State's sturgeon fishery awaits federal decision," April 12). But without these safeguards, the lake sturgeon's future is bleak — and a listing wouldn't end sturgeon fishing, as the law allows for sustainable harvest.

While lake sturgeon in some areas are doing better than others, only nine lake sturgeon populations with more than 1,000 adult fish remain. Lake sturgeon once thrived throughout the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River basin. But these once-abundant fish have suffered a 90% range-wide decline since the late 1800s.

In Minnesota, the Rainy River/Lake of the Woods population is robust, with recent counts of around 100,000 fish, and recently the Ottertail River saw the first sturgeon spawning in 125 years. But throughout their range, lake sturgeon remain in trouble.

Concerned with low overall numbers, the Center for Biological Diversity, where I work, petitioned to protect lake sturgeon as "threatened" under the Endangered Species Act. This would allow the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to rank each population's health. Based on those rankings, the agency would have the flexibility to assign different levels of protection.

We all want the same thing — waters teeming with abundant lake sturgeon and a future where sustainable sturgeon fishing thrives. A federal listing would provide a range-wide recovery plan and ongoing federal funding. It's the only way to ensure a comeback for the cherished lake sturgeon.

Margaret E. Townsend, Portland, Ore.

The writer is senior freshwater attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity.


No to assault on Rafah

There is pressure from the current ultranationalist Israeli government on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to implement an all-out assault on Rafah, the southernmost city in Gaza with over a million civilians and refugees. Netanyahu has signaled to Washington that he must eliminate Hamas, which Israel says has thousands of fighters there. This could be a false premise and an excuse to continue the war and keep Netanyahu in office, but if true, an assault could trigger some disastrous unknowns.

President Joe Biden must, with all his influence, take direct action to prevent any military operations intended for Rafah. If he has to withhold military aid or our support he must convey this to Israel as a deterrence to furthering the war. Biden's verbal disapproval of Netanyahu's Gaza military incursion is disregarded by Israel as the "red line" keeps moving.

Biden gave Israel a blank check and materiel to go to war. If he fails to stop Israel, we will see a large number of civilian deaths and an uncontrollable, chaotic and extremely destructive invasion of Rafah. The potential for an all-out Middle Eastern war grows greater each day as Israel breaches Syrian, Iranian and Lebanese borders to kill combatants, enemy leaders and, yes, civilians. The prevention of a regional war needs to be a priority for all nations and could be avoided by a cease-fire, but that in itself is an elusive goal.

Kamel Aossey, Minnetonka


Too easily forgotten

Martin Kuz observed accurately that today's GOP has abandoned Ronald Reagan's foreign policy ("American retreat," Opinion Exchange, April 16). His astute observations were reflected in an educational field trip I took to Ukraine and the USSR in the summer of 1989 with a bus full of high school students interested in the area's historical tensions. We spent 10 days exploring communities in Ukraine and the Soviet Union as Mikhail Gorbachev began to consider democratizing the Soviet system. Reagan's strength and clarity during his presidency that had ended earlier that year helped provide American support for Gorby's leadership and courage.

Unfortunately, Republican Reps. Tom Emmer, Michelle Fischbach, Brad Finstad and Pete Stauber have ignored this foreign policy support from Reagan, who opposed Russian despotism. Trump's GOP has abandoned an informed and collaborative foreign policy. With help from Fox News, the GOP seems to support Vladimir Putin's murderous threats to a Russian democracy. This abandonment of Reagan's foreign policy concerns our European allies. This MAGA ignorance may be tragic. NATO and the European Union could unify our democratic partners, if the GOP could abandon our nation's only insurrectionist.

Our tour's interaction with Ukrainian and Russian citizens made us feel similar to Kuz's parents. There could be a stronger and more united Europe without Russian despotism. GOP despots fail to recognize the hopes for rights and liberty in Ukraine and Russia. Their ignorance of Reagan's tacit support for Gorbachev's hopes have left both the EU and NATO leaders wondering what happened to America's commitment to European security and markets.

Bill Mittlefehldt, Duluth


Kuz, in his commentary, praises Reagan for his stance against the Soviets in 1983. He is obviously not aware that Reagan was treated in much the same way former President Donald Trump is being treated today — constant media criticism and vilification. The only thing that was missing in Reagan's time was the use of the legal system to go after him, which is currently being used to go after Trump.

Regarding Trump's comment about Russia "do[ing] whatever the hell they want": The context was Trump's annoyance with Europe and NATO not taking responsibility dealing with Putin's Russia and placing too much reliance on the U.S. (If Putin makes a move, there is no doubt that under Trump the U.S. will stand with Europe.)

In the 1950s and '60s, I, along with a couple million other guys were in Europe to prevent the Soviets moving into Western Europe. It was necessary at the time because Europe was still rebuilding after World War II. That rebuilding process was completed many decades ago, and Trump is telling them they should now be flexing their muscles.

Keith Wilkening, Bloomington


Not divine but still pretty cool

The moon is locked in its orbit around the Earth, and astronomers measure it with such precision that they can predict eclipses decades in advance. And yet a lot of people still see a total eclipse as an act of God, a "sign," perhaps. But how? If the moon were to abruptly take a left turn, it would cause consternation in the astronomical community.

It's understandable that the ancients saw great religious significance in eclipses — they're spectacular and infrequent. But by now we know the underlying causes of natural events, and there's no sign of any magic involved. It's just a shadow, and in fact is always there — but in space near the Earth and only occasionally on it.

If scientific evidence came to light of an actual miracle, it would be the news story of the century. And yet people — not just grown-up adults but elected officials — make claims of divine intervention with tremendous frivolousness.

I am not an atheist, and there are still plenty in mysteries in the universe where the presence of higher powers cannot be ruled out. But with the orbits of celestial bodies it can be. So can't we change our minds about one thing?

Patrick McCauley, Edina