A lot of new info is emerging about this species, and some of it is pretty mind-blowing. Lives longer than any other freshwater teleost--4x as long as previously thought. Some populations are mostly made up of individuals over 80 years old--alive but not effectively spawning since before dams were built in the 1930s. But the species is poorly studied and mostly unregulated, and bowfishers can shoot them in unlimited numbers.
New research just published:
"Bigmouth Buffalo Ictiobus cyprinellus sets freshwater teleost record as improved age analysis reveals centenarian longevity"
Here's the abstract:
Understanding the age structure and population dynamics of harvested species is crucial forsustainability, especially infisheries. The Bigmouth Buffalo (Ictiobus cyprinellus)isafishendemic to the Mississippi and Hudson Bay drainages. A valued food-fish for centuries, theyare now a prized sportfish as night bowfishing has become a million-dollar industry in thepast decade. All harvest is virtually unregulated and unstudied, and Bigmouth Buffalo aredeclining while little is known about their biology. Using thin-sectioned otoliths and bomb-radiocarbon dating, wefind Bigmouth Buffalo can reach 112 years of age, more than quad-rupling previous longevity estimates, making this the oldest known freshwater teleost(~12,000 species). We document numerous populations that are comprised largely(85–90%) of individuals over 80 years old, suggesting long-term recruitment failuresince dam construction in the 1930s. Ourfindings indicate Bigmouth Buffalo require urgentattention, while other understudiedfishes may be threatened by similar ecological neglect
A Minnesota Public Radio story about Bigmouths, bowfishing, etc.:
A petition to urge the Minnesota DNR to protect and help Bigmouth Buffalo:
Please sign it and spread the word.