Searching for madtom cats



August 27, 2010 - 12:00 AM

HUMBOLDT — Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks representative Vernon Tabor was in Humboldt Wednesday to research numbers of Neosho River madtom catfish. 
Tabor, fish and wildlife biologist, said KDWP started Monday on its annual madtom research. 
“The madtom is a small catfish that only grows to about 2 inches long,” Tabor said. “They live only in the Neosho River system and live only two years. The fish will spawn this year and again next year, then die. If they have two or three bad years it makes a big impact on the numbers.”
State agents have been tracking the madtom since 1991. 
“We go to the same sites in the Neosho and Spring rivers each year,” Tabor said. “We start near Miami, Okla., and work upstream. We used to go farther down but when they built Grand Lake, the madtoms all died out down there.”
This year, overall fish numbers are down, re-searchers said.
“We’ve found a moderate number here, which I was glad to see,” said Tabor.
The researchers typically spend about two hours at each site.
In addition to searching for the tiny toms, researchers this year “are helping Mark Wildhaber with research he is doing for the Peoria Tribe,” Tabor said.
The tribe “received a U.S. Geological Survey grant to study the difference between the Neosho and Spring rivers” ecosystems, Tabor said. 
Spring River fish numbers are low and the tribe is looking into the possibility harvesting live madtoms from the Neosho for a hatchery to restock the Spring River system, Tabor explained.
The research will show if the water temperature and quality is compatible enough for the fish to survive in the Spring River, Tabor said.

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