Coded Wire Tags are really small. They are too small to incorporate technology that could transmit their codes. You usually can’t see them after they are implanted and even if you could, the code is much too small to read. So, how do you go about reading Coded Wire Tags? First, the tags are removed from the host and then tag reading is normally done under a microscope with 25X or higher magnification. With a little practice, this is simple and quick. The target area containing the tag is removed, and then an electronic detector is used to find the tags in successively smaller pieces of that tissue.
Large-scale Coded Wire Tag programs usually set up centralized labs dedicated to reading Coded Wire Tags and may process upwards of 20,000 tags per year. Learn more about Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s Tag Lab in Juneau.
Tag Reading Tools
Once the tag is removed from the tissue, handling and reading Coded Wire Tags is much easier with some simple tools.
Our newest tool for reading Coded Wire Tags is the Tag Viewer. It incorporates a camera, computer, tag reading pencil and jig, and monitor into a single package. The tag viewer offers the high quality images, the option of saving digital images of the tag. It is the best choice for reading Coded Wire Tags in the lab.
If you use a microscope, then we recommend using the Tag Reading Jig with Pencils to hold the Coded Wire Tags, along with the Illuminator to properly light them up under your microscope.
A Tag Reading Jig with two pencils is used under a microscope to handle Coded Wire Tags. The pencils have magnets with opposite polarity – one magnet holds the tag and the other is used to pull the tag straight in line with the pencil. The pencil holding the tag can be rotated to show all sides of the tag. Two versions of the pencil are available. The standard pencil has a moderately strong magnet and is the best choice when precut tags need to be read before tagging. The head lab version (HL) has a stronger magnet that will hold tags more securely to prevent dropped or lost tags.
The Illuminator sits over the Tag Reading Jig, and will fit under most microscopes. LED technology provides intense lighting and eliminates shadows to make tags much easier to read. The Illuminator has its own power supply.
No microscope? Heading into the field? In this case, we recommend using the MagniViewer to handle and read Coded Wire Tags. The MagniViewer incorporates a tag reading pencil, microsope and light in a small battery-operated tool. You can even use the MagniViewer with your smart phone to take some great pictures of the tags you recover. Two versions of the pencil are available. The standard pencil has a moderately strong magnet and is the best choice when precut tags need to be read before tagging. The head lab version (HL) has a stronger magnet to prevent dropped or lost tags.