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Antenna to be installed in White River to monitor endangered fish

Published: Monday, Aug. 6 2012 12:16 p.m. MDT

LAKEWOOD, Colo. — Researchers will have a new way to track the presence and movement of endangered fish in the White River in eastern Utah following the mid-August installation of a 120-foot-long, 3-foot-wide remote-sensing antenna. 

Researchers with the Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program will join representatives of Questar Pipeline Company and Biomark Inc. to place the thermoplastic antenna on the bed of the river during low flows.

Once installed, the antenna will operate year-round and use radio frequencies to capture the movement of any fish implanted with a passive integrated transponder tag as they pass within 15-18 inches of the antenna’s surface. A PIT tag is a small microchip in a glass capsule. 

The antenna will detect any endangered Colorado pikeminnow, razorback sucker, bonytail and humpback chub, as well as a variety of other native fishes that are PIT tagged. This will enable researchers to document fish movement, calculate population size, and obtain weight, length and age data.

The antenna will enable researchers to gain valuable insight into the movement patterns of tagged endangered and other native fishes, and eliminate the stress associated with repeated capture and release.

Utah’s Questar Pipeline Company will fund the $125,000 project to help monitor potential impacts to endangered fish and their habitat that might occur when the company constructs a pipe across the White River as part of its Mainline 103 Extension Project.

The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service offices in Verna will operate and maintain the antenna, including data retrieval.

UDWR will use detection data of non-listed native fish species to understand the complete fish community in the White River.

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