Feds Will Spend $472,150 to Teach Survival Skills to Sucker Fish

May 14, 2013 - 12:53 PM

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An undated photo of a male Guppy. (AP Photo/Clelia Gasparini)

(CNSNews.com) – The Department of Interior will be spending $472,150 to teach survival skills to bonytails and sucker fish.

“The objective of the proposed project is to determine if training increases Bonytail and Razorback Sucker survival when exposed to predators,” the grant abstract states.

“This proposal builds upon the 2012 Bureau of Reclamation assistance agreement with the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) tasked with investigating the potential for training Bonytail and Razorback Suckers to recognize and avoid predators," says the abstract for the program.

“One of the early conclusions of the prior work is that the schooling behavior of Bonytail may allow untrained fish to show improved survival because they recognize predator avoidance behaviors exhibited by trained individuals,” the abstract states.

The funds, announced on Grants.gov on May 9, 2013 and set for a June 22, 2013 activation, will be given to the Bureau of Reclamation, Lower Colorado Region. The two species--the Bonytail and Razorback Sucker--are found in the Colorado River.

The grant abstract says that the funding is for the Lower Colorado River Multi-Species Conservation Program, and the Habitat Conservation Plan.

The abstract gives the three “components” of the almost half-a-million dollar project:

1) Pond restoration

2) Intensive predator avoidance training and marking

3) Remote sensing of marked fish to assess short-term post-training survival

“The effort will be coordinated with Valle Vista Golf Course (VVGC) in Kingman, Arizona, with whom AZGFD is establishing a long-term memorandum of agreement,” the abstract states. “The VVGC will provide a location for the ponds and access to the site for experimentation purposes.”

Inquiries by CNSNews.com to the Grants Officer in charge of the project seeking details about how fish are trained were not answered.