The Center for Biological Diversity is petitioning the federal government to protect lake sturgeon under the Endangered Species Act.
The Center's Mark Finc says there used to be 15 million lake sturgeon in the U.S. There's now just a few thousand.
While Michigan and some other states have taken steps to protect lake sturgeon, Finc says it's not enough.
"What we have found is it's fairly haphazard," says Finc, "and that it really needs to be more consistent across the board, instead of just a couple spots here and there."
Lake sturgeon can live up to 100 years, and grow to a massive size, up to eight feet long and 300 pounds. The fish only reaches sexual maturity at about age 15, and doesn't reproduce every year, one of the reasons it's been so threatened by loss of habitat and severe over harvesting that began about 100 years ago.
Finc says the fish is unique in another way -- it's lived on the Earth for a very long time.
"They've been around for some say up to 200 million years, which means they would have been around when the dinosaurs were here," says Finc. "They've survived all this time and we want to make sure they're here for future generations as well."
The Center's petition says in some states, like Michigan, lake sturgeon could be listed as threatened, and in others where the populations are teetering on the edge of vanishing, they could be listed as endangered.