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Wildlife News - March 7, 2014

Posted in: Wildlife News
Mar 7, 2014
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  • It’s almost time for the Outdoor Expo
  • AZGFD comments on recent jaguar critical habitat announcement 
  • New season of Arizona Wildlife Views to air on Eight, Arizona PBS 
  • Public fishing clinics to be held at Bonsall, Copper Sky parks 
  • First eggs signal start of 2014 breeding season for endangered condors 
  • Arivaca Lake closed to vehicular traffic during construction 
  • Arizonans can help wildlife at tax time 
  • Adobe Mountain Wildlife Center receives baby bighorn sheep taken from the wild

It’s almost time for the Outdoor Expo
Family fun for everyone on March 29 and 30

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The Arizona Game and Fish Department Outdoor Expo will showcase outdoor sports and fun, shooting sports and wildlife on Saturday, March 29 and Sunday, March 30, at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility in Phoenix. There will be plenty of hands-on fun for all ages. Admission and parking are free.

Check out the huge kids’ fishing tanks and take home a free photo of your child. Learn target archery and try other shooting sports in a safe, supervised, controlled environment on the range. Try specialty shooting disciplines like clay target, cowboy action, practical pistol, black powder, air gun and more. See all sorts of live wildlife.

Don’t miss the always popular cowboy mounted shooting competition. See OHV and ATV exhibits. Get a feel for kayaking at the “Lake Paddlemore” kayaking tank. Hike a field course and learn cool camping tips. Learn about boating and how to stay safe on the water. Talk to experts about Arizona’s raptors, the Community Fishing program, quail hunting, Arizona’s reptiles, game calling, optics, wildlife tracking research, and more. Visit with more than 150 exhibitors, including outdoor recreation and conservation groups, shooting clubs, government agencies, and commercial vendors of outdoor products and services.

Concessionaires will have food and beverages available for purchase (some accept only cash). There is a nominal charge for ammunition at some of the target shooting venues.

Expo hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, March 29, and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, March 30. The 2014 Outdoor Expo is easy to get to, located on Carefree Highway, about 1/2 mile west of I-17 in Phoenix.

Gold sponsors of this year's Outdoor Expo are Cabela's, Arizona State Credit Union, and Waste Management. Silver sponsors are Sportsman's Warehouse, Arizona State Parks, Iron City Polaris, Mule Deer Foundation, AWC Silencers, National Rifle Association, U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance Foundation and the Weatherby Foundation.

For more information, visit www.azgfd.gov/expo.

AZGFD comments on recent jaguar critical habitat announcement

On March 4, 2014, the Southwest Region of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) notified the public that the Service had designated 764,207 acres of land in southern Arizona as critical habitat for the rarely-present jaguar. This action completed the third review by the Service that examines the need for jaguar critical habitat in Arizona. The two prior reviews found that designation of critical habitat in Arizona-New Mexico was not warranted. The Arizona Game and Fish Department does not support the latest finding of the Service that designating critical habitat is essential to the conservation of the jaguar.

Game and Fish Assistant Director for Wildlife Management Jim deVos states, "I find it difficult to justify designating critical habitat for a species that is so rarely found in Arizona. In looking at the available data on the presence of jaguars, there has been no documentation of a female jaguar in Arizona for nearly a century. There have been long periods when no jaguar was even found in the state. Such designations should be based on good science and effective conservation, which are both lacking with this designation. This designation does nothing to further the conservation of the jaguar."

Based on the current information from Mexico, the closest breeding population of jaguars is approximately 130 miles south of the international border between Arizona and Sonora, Mexico. Further, for many decades, the observations of jaguars in Arizona have been individual males, which clearly do not constitute a "population" given the lack of females and/or breeding pairs.

The American public has a reasonable expectation that when the Service lists a species or designates critical habitat for a species that the restrictions posed by these designations are in fact essential to that species’ conservation.

"With the absence of any documented breeding pairs in the U.S. for many decades and with an estimated population of no less than 30,000 jaguars and more than 99 percent of the jaguar’s range occurring outside of the United States, the Service's recent declaration of critical habitat undermines the congressional intent for the Endangered Species Act (ESA)," says Larry Voyles, Arizona Game and Fish Department Director.

In the department's comment letters submitted to the Service in 2012 and 2013 (posted at www.azgfd.gov/jaguar), the department opposed this designation, based on several points including:

  • The ESA defines critical habitat as that which is essential to the conservation of the species.
  • Lone males that disperse to the edge of the species' range are not essential to species preservation, particularly in the absence of any documented jaguar breeding pairs in the region.
  • That designation of critical habitat is not warranted and indeed sets an unacceptable precedent of using poor science to designate critical habitat.
  • To be declared critical, habitat should be occupied. However, in 35 of the 49 years between 1962-2011, no jaguars were detected in Arizona. In the other 14 years, no more than one or two male jaguars were detected per year, failing to demonstrate occupancy as required.

"The department has a long history of supporting endangered species, including designation of critical habitat, but designating critical habitat for the jaguar simply fails in both logic and biological foundation," says Voyles. "Further, recovery of jaguars is very important, so important that all conservation efforts and use of precious limited resources need to be focused where most jaguars actually exist."

Arizona Game and Fish has long been involved in jaguar conservation and has been a member of the Interagency Jaguar Conservation Team since 1996. For more information on jaguars, visit www.azgfd.gov/jaguar.

 

New season of Arizona Wildlife Views to air on Eight, Arizona PBS

Arizona Wildlife Views, the Emmy-winning outdoors and nature series produced by the Arizona Game and Fish Department, will now be seen weekly on Eight, Arizona PBS in Phoenix. Beginning March 18, new episodes of the show will air Tuesdays at 2 p.m. on the popular PBS station (Digital channel 8.1).

"We’re proud that Eight, Arizona PBS has aired Arizona Wildlife Views for more than 20 years as part of their commitment to original programs about Arizona," said Carol Lynde, video production supervisor at the Arizona Game and Fish Department. "The show brings Arizona’s unique habitat and wildlife right into your living room."

The new season of Arizona Wildlife Views, hosted by Jim Paxon, features a wide variety of beautifully photographed wildlife, conservation activities and recreation opportunities available across the state. Programs range from native fish in the depths of the Grand Canyon to a bald eagle nest in the heights of our northern pines.

Series producers David Majure and Ben Avechuco highlight Arizona’s efforts to conserve bighorn sheep, pronghorn, desert tortoises and other animals, and reveal insights from many of the dedicated biologists and wildlife managers who work for the Game and Fish Department.

Arizona Wildlife Views episodes will repeat Saturday mornings at 6:30 and again on Tuesday mornings at 5 a.m. The show also appears on municipal cable TV channels throughout the state.
 
For more information, or to see past episodes of Arizona Wildlife Views, visit www.azgfd.gov/video.

 

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Public fishing clinics to be held at Bonsall, Copper Sky parks

Two new additions to the Community Fishing Program, Bonsall Pond and Copper Sky Lake, will be the sites of public fishing clinics over the next two Saturdays.

If you have never fished, or know someone who hasn’t fished, this is a great opportunity to get out and try it for free. Fishing poles and bait will be available to borrow for free and no license is required during the clinic hours (must sign up upon arrival).

The Bonsall Pond fishing clinic will be held 9-11 a.m., Saturday, March 8. The park is located in Glendale at 59th Ave. and Bethany Home Road.

The Copper Sky Lake fishing clinic will be 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 15. The Copper Sky Recreation Complex is located in the City of Maricopa on Bowlin Road, just east of SR 347.

 

First eggs signal start of 2014 breeding season for endangered condors

The first eggs in both the wild flock of California condors in Arizona and Utah and a captive flock in Idaho were observed last week, marking the start of what biologists hope is another successful breeding season.

Last year, four young condors hatched in the Arizona-Utah wild population, the most ever in one season. Eddie Feltes, field manager for The Peregrine Fund's condor project, said there are as many active pairs in the wild population this year as last but with an exciting new twist.

"Two individuals among the observed active breeding pairs are wild-hatched condors, and with any luck, the Arizona-Utah population might have its first second-generation wild bird," Feltes said. "A wild-hatched condor producing wild-hatched young -- we have our fingers crossed!"

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The first egg in the wild Arizona-Utah flock was reported Feb. 11. The adults will incubate it for about two months in their nest at a remote location in Vermilion Cliffs National Monument. Biologists will continue to monitor all the wild pairs from afar to confirm when eggs hatch and nestlings take their first flight, or fledge. They will continue to observe the young birds as they are raised by their parents for about a year.

Breeding is also under way in the captive flock at The Peregrine Fund's World Center for Birds of Prey in Boise, Idaho. The first egg, which appeared Feb. 16, was small and yolkless. Eight eggs have been laid since then, and the center expects the captive flock to produce up to 20 young birds this season.

The World Center for Birds of Prey is home to the world's largest captive flock of condors. When an egg is two weeks old, biologists determine whether a chick is growing inside.

If it is fertile, the egg is artificially incubated until it is ready to hatch to increase the likelihood that the egg reaches the hatching stage. It is then returned to adult condors for hatching and the chick is raised by them for about a year. Juveniles join the wild population at various release sites, including the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument.

The recovery effort is a cooperative program by federal, state, and private partners, including The Peregrine Fund, Arizona Game and Fish Department, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Arizona Strip Field Office of the Bureau of Land Management, Grand Canyon and Zion national parks, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, and Kaibab and Dixie national forests.

 

Arivaca Lake closed to vehicular traffic during construction

Renovation has begun on the Arizona Game and Fish Department's (AZGFD) boat ramp and facilities at Arivaca Lake. The work is anticipated to last through March, and no vehicular access directly to the lake shore will be available until the construction is completed. The newly renovated facility will re-open in early April. 

Improvements will include a new boat ramp and boat courtesy dock, new sidewalks and boat trailer parking spaces designed to provide barrier-free access to the new features. During the construction period, the boat ramp will be closed to vehicular access, but the lake shore will remain open to pedestrian access on unimproved trails. The existing restroom and parking area remain open to the public throughout the construction period.

AZGFD Boating Facilities Program Manager Ron Christofferson said this project is being undertaken using state and federal boating access funds specifically set aside for the improvement of boating facilities.

"Funding for this project came from Arizona boaters and anglers in the form of fees paid when they purchased fishing licenses, fishing equipment, fuel for their boat and even the boat itself," said Christofferson. "This is a good example of those fees being invested for our customers, while at the same time benefitting the local economy and Arizona businesses."

Below normal rainfall in the area has resulted in a very low water level at the lake, to the point that the boat ramp is currently completely out of the water. Although unfortunate for boaters, the lack of water has allowed AZGFD full access to the boat ramp for construction and renovation. Several feet of lake water will be required to return Arivaca to its normal levels, with more rainfall being the most critical factor.

 

Arizonans can help wildlife at tax time
Taxpayers can help conserve bald eagles, wolves, and tortoises, among others

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Did you know that your state taxes do not support the conservation of Arizona"s wildlife, but your donations do? Taxpayers can help the state"s wildlife at tax time by “making a mark” on their state income tax form.

The Arizona Wildlife Fund is a voluntary program that allows Arizona taxpayers to make a donation to specifically help imperiled and endangered wildlife, including majestic bald eagles, black-footed ferrets, California condors, Apache trout, Mexican wolves and desert tortoises, among other nongame species.

"Since Game and Fish does not receive any general fund dollars, the Arizona Wildlife Fund provides important support for managing and conserving some of the state's most iconic native species," says Mike Rabe, nongame branch chief for the Arizona Game and Fish Department. "The fund goes only to nongame species that are not hunted or fished, and the cumulative effect of even a dollar can have a tremendous impact on conserving one of Arizona’s greatest natural treasures -- its wildlife."

Arizona is one of 41 states that allow taxpayers to make a contribution to worthwhile causes. Since Arizona started the program more than 25 years ago, taxpayers have donated more than $5 million to the conservation of nongame animals. Nongame are wildlife species that are neither hunted nor fished in a traditional sense.

Last year, the average donation was more than $21. The Arizona Wildlife Fund box can be found on line "40" of the state's long income tax form, or line "33" of the short tax form. 

For more information on the Arizona Wildlife Fund, visit www.azgfd.gov/makeamark. To learn more about the conservation and reintroduction efforts the fund supports, visit www.azgfd.gov/w_c/nongame_species.shtml.

 

Adobe Mountain Wildlife Center receives baby bighorn sheep taken from wild
Public advised to leave wildlife "wild"
 

The Arizona Game and Fish Department's Adobe Mountain Wildlife Center received a baby desert bighorn sheep lamb on Feb. 25 that was confiscated from a Salome-area resident. The one-month-old lamb was removed from the wild for unknown reasons and lived at two residences, one of which was a domestic goat farm, before Game and Fish was notified.

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"While we don’t know why this lamb was taken from the wild, the end result is the same. It can no longer be placed back into the wild population because of potential disease risks that can be passed to wild bighorn sheep," said Mike Demlong, Arizona Game and Fish’s wildlife education program manager. "Thankfully in this case, the lamb is in good condition and we have found a home for it at Bearizona in Williams, but it is usually difficult to place wildlife at zoos and sanctuaries because they typically don't have the room."

It is illegal to keep wildlife as pets. It also is not a good idea to "rescue" wildlife that you believe has been orphaned or abandoned. The parent is usually nearby feeding and will return to her young after a period of time. The best and kindest option is to leave baby wildlife alone.

Spring is the season for young wildlife: Baby rabbits and birds abound, and elk calves and deer fawns hide in the brush while the mother forages. As hard as it is, usually the best thing to do the next time you see baby wildlife that appears orphaned is to leave it alone. Stand back and observe the situation, but most of the time the human desire to help or "rescue" baby, orphaned, or injured wildlife can have unintended consequences for the animal, including death. 

Removing a wild animal from its habitat and rearing it in captivity should only occur if absolutely necessary, like in cases where the animal is injured or attempts to encourage parental care have failed. Although it may seem more humane to "rescue" an animal, wildlife reared in captivity or babies raised without the benefit of learning from their parents, have a greatly reduced chance of survival when and if they are released back into the wild. 

If you find baby wildlife that may be injured or truly orphaned, contact the nearest AZGFD office or visit www.azgfd.gov/w_c/urban_injured_sick.shtml for guidance on what to do.

 

 

 

 

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