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June 1 Wildlife News

Posted in: Wildlife News
Jun 1, 2012
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  • Bear attack at Ponderosa Campground near Payson
  • Be Bear Aware tips for campers and others
  • Whirling disease re-confirmed at renowned Lees Ferry
  • Game and Fish taking hunt-permit applications online
  • Your views sought on proposed fishing regulation changes
  • Arizona Free Fishing Days are on June 2 and 9
  • Game and Fish applauds forest restoration contract
  • You can sign up for Kingman bighorn sheep workshops


Bear attack at Ponderosa Campground near Payson
One camper sustains non-life-threatening injuries

An Arizona woman was injured Thursday morning when a bear ripped a hole in the tent where she, her husband and their dog had been sleeping at Ponderosa Campground in Tonto National Forest, just off Highway 260 about 10 miles east of Payson. The attack occurred around 4:30 a.m. 

After tearing open the tent, the bear reportedly stuck its head in and clawed at the 74-year-old woman, leaving her with bruises and a laceration on her scalp. She was treated at Payson Regional Medical Center for non-life-threatening injuries and released. The woman’s husband and dog were not hurt. 

A large adult bear had recently been seen hanging around the campsite dumpsters. A wildlife manager with Arizona Game and Fish Department visited Ponderosa Campground on Wednesday looking for the bear, but it was not found. A culvert-style trap was set. The wildlife manager talked to the campground host about precautions, and all campers were informed of the bear threat.

The bear returned to the campground sometime during the night. The campground host chased the bear, which retreated. It returned a short time later and attacked the campers in their tent.

Personnel from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services are on scene and working with Game and Fish officers, using dogs to track the bear from the scene of the attack.

“Public safety is our first priority,” said Jim Paxon, information chief with Arizona Game and Fish Department. “This bear poses a threat to public safety and therefore needs to be lethally removed.”

The department will conduct a forensic necropsy to confirm that the captured bear is the one responsible for the attack. Disease testing, including rabies, will also be conducted by an outside laboratory.

Officials have evacuated campers and closed Ponderosa Campground. Lower Tonto Creek/Bear Flat/Forest Road 405A have also been closed to entry. An official closure will be put into effect by the Forest Service until the bear danger lessens.

“The bear was probably looking for food, which is scarce this summer because of drought,” Paxon said. “These campers secured their food in the cab of their truck, and there was no food in the tent. While the campers were with the campground host and medical personnel, the bear came back to the tent a second time, ripped another hole in it, and then went after a pillow that had blood on it from the woman’s wounds.”

Bears are very active during the summer, Paxon added. “It’s important to stay alert. Bears are attracted to places like dumpsters, trash bins and campsites. Whether folks live here or are just visiting, they need to remember this is bear country. Never leave food out, and never take food into a tent.” 

Bear attacks on humans are rare. There have only been seven documented cases of bear attacks in Arizona since 1990, including this one.


Be Bear Aware tips for campers and others

What Should I Do If I See a Bear?

Black bears should always be considered unpredictable and potentially dangerous – at all times.

A black bear will usually detect you and leave the area before you notice, unless the bear has been conditioned to people and their food. If you live in black bear country, take responsibility for not attracting them.

It is essential to keep a clean camp. Store all food items away from your sleeping area. Wash up before going to bed to remove food odors. Do not keep toiletries in your sleeping area, they might also attract bears. Avoid sleeping in the same area where you prepare or eat food. Never intentionally feed wildlife.

If you prepare desserts, such as S’mores, be sure those eating this delicious concoction wash up afterwards because marshmallows and chocolate are superb bear attractants.

To discourage a black bear, immediately:

  • Alter your route to avoid a bear in the distance. 
  • Make yourself as large and imposing as possible, such as spreading out your jacket like a set of wings.
  • If the bear continues to approach, stand upright and wave your arms, jacket or other items.
  • Make loud noises, such as yelling, whistles, and banging pots and pans.
  • Do not run, that could prompt the bear to chase and catch you.
  • Never play dead. 
  • Give the bear a chance to leave the area. 
  • If the bear does not leave, stay calm, continue facing it, and slowly back away. 
  • If a black bear attacks, fight back with everything in your power – fists, sticks, rocks and E.P.A. registered bear pepper spray. While household black and cayenne pepper is not as potent as bear pepper spray, they can still provide a slight deterrent factor.

Remember, removal is usually a last resort: Bears can be common at high elevations where food is plentiful. Different bears will visit the same area if attractants are not removed. Bears that must be removed are relocated or may have to be destroyed if they are considered too dangerous, have lost their fear of humans, or continue to get into conflicts with people.

So be bear aware while visiting the state’s diverse outdoor habitats.


Whirling disease re-confirmed at renowned Lees Ferry
Anglers and boaters being asked not to spread this disease

The parasite known to cause whirling disease – that can affect trout but is not harmful to humans – has been reconfirmed at the renowned Lees Ferry fishery within Glen Canyon National Recreation Area in northern Arizona, advised Arizona Game and Fish Department officials.

“Although the parasite has been confirmed in fish samples from Lees Ferry, to date no trout have displayed any disease symptoms such as the classic whirling motion,” said Fisheries Chief Kirk Young. “In fact, just the opposite is true; the Ferry is currently providing some of its best fishing in more than a decade.”

Young emphasized that there are no human health implications for this fish parasite.

Whirling disease is caused by a microscopic parasite that damages cartilage and compromises the nervous system of trout and other salmonids, but no other fish species. The disease takes its name because it can cause fish to swim in an uncontrolled whirling motion.

This is the second detection of the whirling disease parasite in trout at the Ferry; the first was in 2007. While the parasite was detected in 2007, it did not become established in the trout population and until now was absent from annual samples taken since then.

“It’s pretty clear from the recent tests that this parasite is back again in the trout population at the Ferry,” Young said. “What we don’t know is how the parasite got to the Ferry, nor do we know how it may manifest itself.”

There have been no fish die offs detected due to the whirling disease parasite at Lees Ferry. “Its presence can, but does not always cause significant trout population losses and typically affects young or immature trout the most,” Young advised.

The whirling disease parasite is found at hundreds of waters in 25 states across the nation, including Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada. “We have been very fortunate in Arizona – we don’t have this parasite showing up anywhere else in Arizona. We want to keep it that way,” Young said.

It’s critical to have the conscientious cooperation of boaters, anglers and other recreational users along this stretch of the Colorado River and at other waters as well.

“The life cycle of this parasite, which involves both trout and tubifex worms along with microscopic spores, results in this parasite being readily transportable unless anglers and boaters are conscientious about cleaning and decontaminating their equipment,” Young said.

Anglers and boaters are asked to:

  • Never transport live fish from one body of water to another – anywhere, not just from the Ferry;
  • Do not dispose of fish heads, skeletons or entrails in any body of water, this can spread the disease-causing parasites;
  • Do not discard entrails or heads of fish down a garbage disposal. The whirling disease parasite can survive most water treatment plants and infect areas downstream;
  • Carefully clean mud and vegetation from all equipment, such as boats, trailers, waders, boots, float tubes and fins. Rinse all mud and debris from equipment and wading gear, and drain water from boats before leaving the area where you’ve been fishing;
  • Drain and dry boat bilges, live wells, and lower units.

BEFORE using waders, wading shoes, or fishing gear at another waterway, clean equipment with one of the following:

  • Saturate waders and other gear with full-strength "Commercial Solutions Formula 409® Cleaner Degreaser Disinfectant" or "Formula 409® All Purpose Cleaner Antibacterial Kitchen Lemon Fresh" or other cleaners, that contain at least 0.3 percent of the quaternary ammonium compound alkyl dimethyl benzyl ammonium chloride for at least 10 minutes or,
  • Dip, wipe, or spray waders and other gear with 50-percent bleach solution (one part household chlorine bleach to one part water) or,
  • Soak waders and other gear for 10 minutes in a 10-percent bleach solution (one part household chlorine bleach to nine parts water) or,
  • Pour boiling water (at least 200°F) over your gear and allow to cool.

“The spores of the whirling disease parasite are known to adhere to these kinds of materials and can potentially be carried on gear from one water to another,” Young advised.

Young added that there are also other reasons to clean and decontaminate equipment and boats.

“We have a long list of potential invasive species from New Zealand mudsnails, rock snot, to invasive mussels that can be spread from one body of water to another if simple precautions are not taken. Please make it a habit to Clean, Drain, and Dry, and don’t give any of these invaders a free ride to a new water.”


Game and Fish taking hunt-permit applications online
Application deadline is Tuesday, June 12

The Arizona Game and Fish Department is once again taking hunt-permit applications online for Arizona’s 2012 hunts for deer, fall turkey, fall javelina, bighorn sheep, fall buffalo, and pheasant.

Hunters who haven’t yet submitted an application now have the option of applying online by visiting https://phx.az.gov/app/huntdraw/home.xhtml and scrolling down to the “Apply for a Draw” option.

The application deadline is Tuesday, June 12, 2012 by 7 p.m. (MST). Online applicants are advised to apply early and not wait until the last minute, in case any technical issues arise on deadline day.

Those applying online will have to pay the non-refundable $7.50 application fee (which is charged as part of the tag fee whether applying online or with a paper application). Also, a 2012 hunting license is required of all applicants to apply in the draw. If you haven’t already purchased your license, you can do so through the draw application process.

Please keep in mind that if you are purchasing your license online, you must have a working printer handy and print your license out at the time of purchase. The department does not mail out licenses that are purchased online. 

Licenses are also available for purchase at Arizona Game and Fish offices and from more than 300 hunting license dealers statewide.

The online application service allows payment with a credit card (VISA and Mastercard only). The cost of the hunt permit-tag won’t be charged unless and until you are drawn.

In addition to applying online, there are two other ways to submit hunt applications.
  
1. By mail, addressed to Arizona Game and Fish Department, Attn. Drawing Section, P.O. Box 74020, Phoenix, AZ 85087-1052. (Applications sent by mail must be received by the deadline -- postmarks do not count).

2. In person at any Arizona Game and Fish office. Office addresses can be found at www.azgfd.gov/offices.

Department office locations will be open until 7 p.m. on deadline day (June 12) to receive hand-delivered applications; however, the front counter customer service for regular business transactions, including buying licenses, still closes at 5 p.m.

The 2012-13 Arizona Hunting and Trapping Regulations and applications are available at Arizona Game and Fish offices, at more than 300 hunting license dealers statewide, and online at www.azgfd.gov/draw.

The online service works with the following browsers: Microsoft Internet Explorer, Firefox, Google Chrome and Safari (If you use Safari, it is recommended that you upgrade to the latest version of the OS and Safari browser; a few problems have been reported with older Safari versions). This application service currently does not work with mobile devices such as iPad, iPhone or other Smartphones.

Please keep in mind that the drawing process for elk and pronghorn antelope occurred earlier this year.


Your views sought on proposed fishing regulation changes

Should the slot limit for largemouth bass be removed at Alamo Lake? Should bag limits for bass, catfish and trout be reduced at Cataract and Kaibab lakes?

The Arizona Game and Fish Department wants your input on these and other proposed changes for the 2013-14 Arizona fishing regulations. There are five proposed changes:

1. Remove the special regulation slot limit for largemouth bass at Alamo Lake. Alamo currently has a six-bass limit, of which no more than one can be between 13 and 16 inches long. It is the only body of water in Arizona that still has a slot limit for largemouth bass. The regulation for bass at Alamo Lake will revert to the statewide limit of six bass (no slot restriction).

2. Extend the “no harvest of largemouth bass” restriction at Pena Blanca Lake (currently set to expire on Dec. 31, 2012) to instead expire on Dec. 31, 2016. All largemouth bass must be immediately released.

3. Reduce bag limits for bass (from six to two), catfish (from 25 to four), and trout (from six to four) and add a minimum size (13 inches) for bass at Cataract Lake and Kaibab Lake.

4. Allow gizzard shad as a legal live baitfish on Colorado River-connected waters from Separation Canyon downstream to the Mexico Border, including the Gila and Salt rivers and their impounded reservoirs. Gizzard shad can be collected on site only, and may not be transported to or from other waters.

5. Reduce the bag and possession limits on channel catfish at Parker Canyon Lake from 25 to four.

The proposed changes and the rationale behind them can be found at www.azgfd.gov/fishregs.

Written comments can be submitted by e-mail to fishregscomments@azgfd.gov through July 24, 2012. Comments can also be submitted by U.S. mail to Arizona Game and Fish Department, Attn: Fish Regulation Comments, 5000 W. Carefree Highway, Phoenix, AZ 85086.

A series of public meetings will be held from June 5-13 at various locations around the state to discuss the proposed changes. Each meeting will start at the time indicated; end times are listed but will vary (earlier or later) depending on attendance and interest. Meeting dates and locations are:

  • June 5, 7-9 p.m., Tucson, Arizona Game and Fish Department Tucson regional office, 555 N. Greasewood Road.

  • June 6, 7-9 p.m., Yuma, American Legion Hall, 2575 South Virginia Drive.

  • June 11, 6:30-8:30 p.m., Mesa, Arizona Game and Fish Department Mesa regional office, 7200 E. University Drive.

  • June 11, 6:30-8:30 p.m., Flagstaff, Arizona Game and Fish Department Flagstaff regional office, 3500 S. Lake Mary Road.

  • June 13, 6-8 p.m., Kingman, Arizona Game and Fish Department Kingman regional office, 5325 N. Stockton Hill Road.

The regulations changes are scheduled to be presented to the Arizona Game and Fish Commission at its meeting set for Sept. 7-8, 2012 in Phoenix. The public is welcome to attend. An agenda will be posted in advance of the meeting at www.azgfd.gov/commission.

For more information on the proposed regulation changes, visit www.azgfd.gov/fishregs.


Arizona Free Fishing Days are on June 2 and 9

Arizona’s annual free fishing days will be celebrated this year on June 2 and June 9 as part of National Fishing and Boating Week. On each of these Saturdays, no fishing licenses are required for persons fishing state public waters or any of the Urban Fishing Program lakes.

This is a great chance to grab some poles, gather up some friends and family members, and head out to your nearest urban lake or to the cooler country to fish a lake or stream.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department, in cooperation with other partners, is conducting several free fishing day events. There will be loaner rods, free bait, and experts who can provide tips. The event schedule is:

* Saturday, June 2, 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. – Yuma West Wetlands Pond. Be part of the City of Yuma Family Fish Fiesta, a fun fishing competition for the entire family. Plaques will be awarded in both youth and adult “Biggest” and “Littlest” fish categories. Catfish will be stocked in the pond prior to the event. For more information, visit www.ci.yuma.az.us/events_26399.htm.

* Saturday, June 2, 8 a.m. to noon – Dead Horse Ranch State Park (located near Cottonwood). Come on out to Verde Valley Fishing Fun Day and try your hand at catching catfish in the stocked lagoon. Free admission to the fishing event; must check in at park office. Sponsored by the Arizona Game and Fish Department, the U.S. Forest Service, and Dead Horse Ranch State Park. For more information, visit http://azstateparks.com/parks/deho/index.html.

* Saturday, June 2, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. – Riggs Flat Lake (located on top of Mount Graham near Safford). This small, picturesque lake is stocked during summer months with rainbow, brown and brook trout. Boats are permitted on the lake, but only single electric motors may be used. There are no stores at the lake and no drinking water available, so bring your own food and water. For more information, contact Joe Fagan, AZGFD sport fishing education, at (520) 730-6398.

* Saturday, June 9, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. – Parker Canyon Lake. Arizona Game and Fish will host a free fishing clinic at Parker Canyon Lake as part of the U.S. Forest Service’s celebration of National Get Outdoors Day. Types of fish in Parker Canyon Lake include rainbow trout, largemouth bass, sunfish and channel catfish. Parker Canyon Lake Marina will offer a discount on fishing tackle. For a list of other activities and partners at this event, visit www.fs.usda.gov/detail/coronado/news-events/?cid=STELPRDB5370907. For more information, contact Mark Hart, Arizona Game and Fish Department Tucson office, at (520) 388-4445.

* Saturday, June 9, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. – Garrett Tank (about 12 miles east of Seligman off Crookton Road). For more information, contact the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Kingman office at (928) 692-7700.

* Saturday, June 9, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. – Goldwater Lake (located near Prescott). This is a great spot to get out of the heat and have a nice morning of fishing. For more information, contact the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Kingman office at (928) 692-7700.

* Saturday, June 9, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. – Mormon Lake Lodge (located about 30 miles south of Flagstaff). Arizona Game and Fish will stock the pond with rainbow trout and offer free fishing. This event, part of the Mormon Lake Lodge Outdoor Festival, will also have displays and activities related to wildlife, reptiles, fishing, archery, hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking and more. For more information, visit http://foreverresorts.com/mediarelease.cfm?ContentKey=447878 or contact Larry Snead, environmental programs manager for Mormon Lake Lodge, at (602) 469-0408.

Even if you don’t take advantage of one of the fishing events, head on out to a lake and try your hand at fishing. Many waters are scheduled for fish stockings. Check the Game and Fish Department’s website at www.azgfd.gov/fishing for the latest fishing report and fish stocking schedules so you can prepare for your outing.

Remember that bag limits and other fishing regulations are in full effect and must be observed on Free Fishing Days. Kids under the age of 14 can fish for free all year long in Arizona, so this special fishing license exemption day means that the older kids and parents get a free pass for the day. Try fishing, you’ll like it!


Game and Fish applauds award of stewardship contract for forest restoration

The Arizona Game and Fish Department applauds the U.S. Forest Service’s recent action to advance much-needed forest thinning in Arizona through its award of a stewardship agreement.

The agreement, awarded after a lengthy review process, is the largest ever issued by the Forest Service, covering restoration thinning treatment of 300,000 acres on the Apache-Sitgreaves, Coconino, Kaibab and Tonto national forests over a 10-year period.

The winning bidder, Pioneer Forest Products, plans to build a plant near Winslow, Ariz., that will produce high-value lumber and finished wood products as well as biodiesel fuel from thinning slash and mill waste material.

The thinning treatments are a core element of the Four Forests Restoration Initiative (4FRI), a collaborative effort to improve forest health and wildlife habitat, reduce wildfirelife risk, and develop a new sustainable forest products industry in northern Arizona.

Game and Fish has supported and participated in 4FRI since its inception, working closely with the Forest Service and other stakeholders to ensure that restoration efforts yield the greatest possible benefit to forest ecosystems, wildlife habitat, and local economies.

“This is a critical step forward,” said Game and Fish Department Director Larry Voyles. “The forest products industry is an essential partner in the restoration equation. The 2012 fire season has once again brought a sobering reminder of the unhealthy conditions in Arizona forests and the need for large-scale restoration projects like 4FRI. It’s time to get to work.”

For more information about the Four Forests Restoration Initiative, visit www.fs.usda.gov/4fri or www.4fri.org.


You can sign up for Kingman bighorn sheep workshops

People interested in attending the popular desert bighorn sheep workshops conducted by the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Region III office in Kingman can still submit an application form.

There will be two separate, two-day workshops: July 27-28 and Aug. 3-4. The first night of each workshop is mandatory classroom education from 6-8 p.m. The second day provides the opportunity to view the majestic bighorns in their native environment during a four-hour boat ride beginning at 10:30 a.m. on the Colorado River between Willow Beach and Hoover Dam.

Because space is limited, applicants will be selected through a random drawing process. Attendance is limited to those age 14 and up. Preference will be given to those who have not attended the workshop in at least three years.

To apply, download an application form at www.azgfd.gov/bighornworkshop, print the form, and follow the instructions. Registration is by mail or in-person drop-off at the Kingman office only.
All applications must be received by noon on June 15, 2012. The drawing will take place immediately after the application deadline.

Applicants are asked to provide their e-mail address (if they have one) on the application form to receive follow-up instructions and information if they are selected.

For those without Internet access or who need additional information, contact Information/Education Program Manager Zen Mocarski at (928) 692-7700, ext. 2301 or e-mail zmocarski@azgfd.gov.

The workshops include an optional tour of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Willow Beach National Fish Hatchery prior to the Colorado River field trip. The 45-minute tour will begin at 9 a.m. Saturday (before the boat trip) and will feature both sport fish and endangered native fish.

Although the workshops are free, there is a $20 per person refundable deposit to help reduce the problem of no-shows. The money is refunded when a person either attends the workshop or calls to cancel at least 48 hours in advance.

Donations, which are not mandatory to participate, will be accepted at the workshop to help offset increasing costs for boat rentals and fuel. Please do not send cash donations prior to the event.

Participants are encouraged to bring a camera, water, snacks, a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen. No tripods will be allowed on the boats, but small coolers are OK.

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