By Montana Grant

Posted: February 2, 2022

Wild game, fish, and fowl are often carrying tags. These radio collars, monitors, or simple labels carry important information and identification information.

It is important to retrieve this data and sportsmen are important with providing additional information about the tagged critter.

If you retrieve a tag from a goose, duck, or other critter, you probably shot it or found it dead. Tag a cell phone picture of the tag and submit them to the local DNR/FWP office. When you see a large Big Game critter with a collar or tag on it, you can legally shoot it or… Maybe it is a better choice to let them pass. The scientific data that they will contribute is worth more than a steak. Good Karma will lead you to another opportunity.

When you catch a fish, that is tagged, you have a choice. Releasing the fish is an option. I would and have released tagged fish. Before you turn them loose, use the cellphone or camera to take a picture. Maybe do a quick measure and record the date/ location of the catch.

I once caught a 12-inch brown trout in the East Gallatin River, near Bozeman, several years ago. I documented the catch and released the fish. I emailed the picture and info. To the Region 3 FWP office. A few months later, I received an email that stated the fish’s history. This trout was captured and tagged in the Jefferson River, near the Lewis and Clark caverns. It had migrated many miles to the Missouri headwaters and up the Gallatin River. Following the cold water, the brown was enjoying life under the roots of a stump, a few minutes from downtown Bozeman. This tagged fish confirmed what many suspected. Trout migrate great distances when water gets warmer and lower.

During a goose hunt, I picked a blue phase snow goose out of a flight of Canada geese. When I retrieved the bird, I discovered a band on the leg. Again, I photographed the bird and returned the info to the Federal waterfowl agency on the id tag. This bird had been tagged in northern Ontario and had flown down the Chesapeake Bay watershed to where my pit blind was located.

The future of hunting and fishing is based upon accurate Scientific Data. Tags are one way that Biologists can gather this vital information. Releasing tagged fish, letting collared critters pass, and recording and reporting data are just one way that we can help do our part.

You don’t always have to tag it and bag it!

Montana Grant

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