Idaho Power Gathers Sturgeon Data


By Jay Michaels

Hagerman, Idaho ( KMVT-TV / KTWT-TV ) Fish and game workers across the nation are tracking animals and fish. Locally that includes giant fish like sturgeon.

In the last 15 years, 1700 white sturgeon have been raised and planted in this stretch of the Snake River.

Many of those were raised by the College of Southern Idaho, Idaho Fish and Game, and the University of Idaho. Now Idaho Power workers are measuring these white sturgeon and determining if they are already tagged.

Brandon Bentz, White Sturgeon Biologist from Idaho Power, says, "From that information we collect, we'll be able to look at abundance, stock structure of the population, overall fish condition and fish health, growth rates, and maturation of fish."

Bentz estimates there are now between 300 and 400 white sturgeon between Shoshone Falls and Upper Salmon Falls Dam. Many of them are already tagged with passive integrated transponders, or "PIT" tags. Those tags emit radio frequencies to identify individual sturgeon. That helps workers see how often the fish have been captured and track their growth rate, as well.

Bentz says, "If they're a fish over five feet long, we'll make an incision in their abdominal wall, and try to determine their gender. Because on sturgeon, there's no external indication of their gender."

Bentz explains that more than 90 percent of the sturgeon planted here are grown in local hatcheries, instead of reproducing naturally.

Bentz says, "The lack of natural recruitment or natural production occurring in this reach. We're still assessing that. At this point, it looks like there's very little, if any."

Idaho Power will give the information they gather to Idaho Fish and Game. That will help them make the decisions to manage these sturgeon effectively.

May 15, 2013.

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