Yellowstone Lake: Tagging Begins

The Sheepshead on Yellowstone Lake collecting trap nets for the hydro-acoustic telemetry study.

This past Thursday, August 18th, signaled a milestone in fisheries conservation in Yellowstone National Park.

Dr. Robert Gresswell of the USGS, with the support and encouragement of the fisheries team in Yellowstone, has launched a hydro-acoustic telemetry study on Yellowstone Lake. On this last Thursday the first of 140 hydro-acoustic tags were implanted in adult lake trout aboard the Sheepshead that were taken from the trap nets. Twenty six receivers will be deployed at depth around the lake this coming week to collect data and monitoring will begin. As these lake trout move, and especially as they congregate to spawn around the middle of September, their travel corridors and spawning beds will be located and confirmed. A portable receiver will also be deployed in a boat to further pinpoint these locations. This information will lead to more accurate gill net placements and targeting of spawning lake trout. The implementation of the study is great news for the effort to recover the Yellowstone Cutthroat trout.

One of the first hydro-acoustic tags being implanted into a female lake trout by a NPS fisheries biologist.

This has been made possible by several groups coming together in support of the study. First, the NPS made $25,000 available to buy some of the telemetry tags and, in addition, donated man-power, equipment, housing, etc. to run the study; the USGS wrote the study plan and arranged for the loan of receivers that can be placed around the Lake to monitor the movements; and finally, the NGO’s committed to funding about one half of the telemetry tags ($27,000 from the Save The Yellowstone Cutthroat campaign spearheaded by the East Yellowstone Chapter of TU and supported by both the Wyoming Council of TU and several Wyoming Chapters) and to funding about $10,000 worth of travel costs and mooring hardware (Montana Trout Unlimited, Greater Yellowstone Coalition, and the National Parks Conservation Association). This cooperation is monumental and integral to future success on the Lake.

However, the study won’t end this fall. The hydro-acoustic tags have a battery life of three years so they will continue to “ping” for at least two more full seasons. The plan is to add 110 more tags next spring (cost: $44,000) and possibly 24 more receivers (cost: $33,600). Of course, support costs will also be required in subsequent years. Years two and three of the study will provide refinement and expansion of the data collected to be sure we have the entire system covered and all spawning areas identified.

Corey Suski, of the University of Illinois, implants a tag into another large female lake trout.

WYTU is proud that the Save The Yellowstone Cutthroat fund is a major player in making this telemetry study a reality. Again, contributions allowed the fund to purchase 73 hydro-acoustic tags at a cost of $27,000. Without your support, this study would not be happening.

However, we need your help as our financial commitments to aid in this valuable effort have just begun! To enable years two and three of the study, private individuals and groups are being asked to “buy” a single or multiple telemetry tag(s) at a cost of $400 each. Others can “buy” a receiver for $1400 each. If you value Yellowstone cutthroat trout in their native range, please consider making a donation to the fund. We’d like to thank those who have supported this effort in the past and encourage the future support of this pivotal study.

Donations are currently being accepted at:
Save The Yellowstone Cutthroat
PO Box 3008, Cody, WY 82414.

For more information contact:
Dave Sweet
Yellowstone Lake Project Manager for the Wyoming Council of TU

Scott Christy
TU Wyoming Coordinator

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3 Responses to Yellowstone Lake: Tagging Begins

  1. Pingback: Yellowstone Cutthroat Recovery: Yellowstone Lake Tagging Project Underway…..

  2. WYTU says:

    More photos of this effort can be found at the WYTU Facebook page at:

  3. Pingback: Lake Trout Problem In YellowstoneDubois Anglers and Wildlife Group: DAWGS

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