WASHINGTON, Aug. 4 (UPI) — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is backing a new app to help officials better monitor and manage endangered species.
The GPS-enabled app will allow fishermen to log encounters with some 50 at-risk species while on fishing trips. These logs will be shared with conservation officials, improving their understanding of endangered fish — shedding light on their movements, preferred habitats and their overall health.
“The first step towards conservation is always education and engagement, and we are excited to work with FishBrain to help us reach a new audience,” Gary Frazer, assistant director of the FWS Ecological Services Program, said in a press release.
“Anglers are extremely important to protecting and maintaining healthy aquatic habitats,” Frazer added. “This is a unique opportunity to synthesize recreational anglers’ information and knowledge in local waterways and expand our understanding of various species.”
Biologists and ecologists with FWS had to narrow the pool of species included in the app — from thousands down to just 50. Researchers focused on the most vulnerable species likely to be encountered by anglers in and around significant bodies of water.
“Of all the different hobbyists, anglers are among the best when it comes to being aware of the need for conservation,” said Johan Attby, CEO of FishBrain.
“Our users marvel at the beauty of animals and fish as a matter of course; the fact they can now channel this interest into something as constructive and helpful as data collection is a very special opportunity indeed,” Attby added. “We are proud to be reaching our dedicated angling audience to help the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service carry on the amazing work they do.”
Not all of the 50 included species are fish. Anglers and outdoor enthusiasts will be able to use the app to log sightings of whooping cranes, Kemp’s ridley sea turtle, California red-legged frog and Columbia white-tailed deer.