May 01, 2014

Tag Code Mask Validation History and Changes

History of Tag Code Validation

Tag code validation was originally handled in the PTAGIS field software programs P3 and Minimon. Both of these programs checked each tag code against a list of known manufacturer codes – the first 3 characters of a PIT tag code. If the manufacturer’s code of the tag code being read did not match the list, it was rejected. In P3, the rejection was signaled by a pop-up error that would not allow the PIT tag to be entered into a detail record. In Minimon the rejection was silent and the detection of the non-matching tag went into the log file instead of the data file.

When the Bonneville corner collector interrogation site (BCC) came online, the size of the antenna and complexity of the transceiver caused spurious tag readings to be generated. In order to prevent these phantom tags from going into PTAGIS, a special version of Minimon was created that validated tags detected at BCC against a known list of tag code masks. These masks included the manufacturer code and the dye code – the first four characters after the period.


Current PIT Tag Code Mask Validation

The validation on tag code mask was removed from both P3 and Minimon in 2012 because of the following factors:

  • More efficient to maintain list of known tag masks on server and perform validation there
  • PTSC did not want to prevent data from being collected even if unknown tags were being used

When PTAGIS moved its primary interrogation platform from Minimon to M4, tag code mask validation was implemented on the server for all interrogation data. This validation process compares all PIT tag codes submitted via M4 or Minimon files against three lists: registered test tags, registered timer tags, and known tag code masks. If the PIT tag is a registered test tag or timer tag, that detection record is categorized appropriately. If the tag code does not match the known tag code mask list, that detection record is loaded into the database and categorized as an unknown tag record type. If a tag code does match the tag code mask, it is categorized as a real time tag. Only observation records with real time tags are available through the reporting system. See Figure 1 for a simplified flow chart of PIT tag code mask validation steps.

If you do not receive tags through the BPA Fish and Wildlife program, you should check that your tags are included in the tag mask validation codes: List of known tag code masks. If they are not on the list, you will need to request a new tag mask validation code through the PIT Tag Steering Committee.

Once a tag code mask is approved by the PTSC and added to the validation codes master list, any tags with that mask that may have already been uploaded will be moved from the Unknown tag category and will become available in Query Builder 2.


Figure 1. Flowchart for validating PIT tag codes in data submitted to PTAGIS.

New Tag Code Mask Validation

Several changes to tag mask validation will be implemented in June 2014:

  1. Tag Code Mask will officially become a validation code with the same request and governance procedures as other validation codes. The PIT Tag Steering Committee will have governance over the list of known tag code masks. Requests to add new masks to the list will be made through the PIT Tag Steering Committee.
  2. Tag code validation similar to that in Figure 1 will be implemented for tagging data
  3. Notifications will be sent to data contributors whenever a tag code is loaded that does not meet tag code validation