Technology is changing the way the company tracks spawning native chinook salmon and steelhead populations.

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RIGGINS, Idaho — It used to be biologist Phil Groves’ job to assess fish population from a helicopter as it flew down Idaho’s Snake River, but technology has changed that.

KTVB-TV reports that for the first time in 25 years, Groves is sitting at the controls of a drone instead of hanging out the side of a helicopter in a windy canyon.

Groves works for Idaho Power, which put dams on the Snake River 60 years ago. Fish hatcheries have helped reduce the impact of those dams, and the company has kept track of the spawning native chinook salmon and steelhead populations for more than two decades.

Groves says this is the first year the count will be by drone only. Idaho Power will use a program developed by the University of Idaho to analyze the drone video.