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Wildlife News -- June 15, 2012

Posted in: Wildlife News
Jun 15, 2012
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  • Interactive fishing map upgraded in time for Father's Day
  • Wildlife’s use of Highway 93 overpasses gets passed to the next generation
  • Reserve your spot to view bighorn sheep with wildlife biologists on Canyon Lake  
  • Commission to discuss dove seasons at upcoming meeting
  • Comments sought on reptile, raptor, amphibian and mollusk regulations
  • 2012 Arizona Wildlife Views television show now available on the web
  • Arizona Wildlife Views producer wins national award
  • Wildlife photographers: Enter your best images in the wildlife photo contest
  • Nonnative turtle numbers up from 2011 at Phoenix Zoo trapping event
  • In remembrance of fallen firefighter Anthony Polk


Interactive fishing map upgraded in time for Father's Day

Are you looking for a great place to take your dad fishing to celebrate Father's Day on June 17?

If so, then the Arizona Game and Fish Department has some great news for you.

The department’s new web-based interactive fishing map has been upgraded to include easier navigation features, Google-based travel directions, and links to stocking schedules.

Finding out where to fish and lots of other great information is just a mouse click away at gis.azgfd.gov/fishandboat, where you will discover 150 of Arizona’s best fishing lakes, streams and urban ponds.

“The Fish&Boat site has been a real hit with anglers since its first release in March. We are pleased to bring new improvements to the fishing map, making it even more helpful and fun for anglers to use,” says Eric Swanson, the urban fishing program manager who spearheaded creating the new site.

Besides showing how to get to each fishing spot, the interactive fishing map also provides information on the type of fish species there, the available facilities and concessions, and even special fishing regulations that might apply.

You can also sign up at www.azgfd.gov to have the weekly fishing report sent directly to your computer, smart phone or other Internet-friendly device.


Wildlife’s use of Highway 93 overpasses gets passed to the next generation

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A remote camera recently captured a photo of a bighorn sheep ewe and her lamb crossing one of the innovative overpasses along Highway 93 near Hoover Dam, showing the sheep have adapted to using the overpasses and are now teaching their young to use them at an early age.

There have been more than 500 bighorn sheep crossings at the three wildlife overpasses in northwestern Arizona in the past 15 months, 229 in the last month alone. Compare this with 32 crossings at the three underpasses along Highway 68 during a two-year study.

Completed in 2010, the Highway 93 overpasses represent a historic collaboration between state and federal agencies and other partners to develop an innovative approach to protect the Black Mountains bighorn sheep herd in northwestern Arizona, the largest contiguous desert bighorn sheep herd in the nation.

The overpasses were designed to reduce habitat fragmentation – which splits the herd apart and diminishes overall genetic viability – and decrease the number of vehicle collisions with wildlife, making the highway safer for motorists. Overpasses were chosen instead of underpasses because research indicates that bighorn sheep are reluctant to use underpasses due to vulnerability to predators.

The overpasses were a cooperative effort between the Arizona Game and Fish Department, Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT), Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), and the Arizona Desert Bighorn Sheep Society (ADBSS).


Reserve your spot to view bighorn sheep with wildlife biologists on Canyon Lake  

The Arizona Game and Fish Department, in cooperation with the Dolly Steamboat and the Arizona Desert Bighorn Sheep Society, is hosting a workshop for the public to view and learn more about one of Arizona’s iconic species -- desert bighorn sheep.

The workshop consists of two parts. The first is an evening classroom session where participants learn about bighorn sheep, their natural history, management, and historical significance from a Game and Fish biologist. The classroom session will take place on Friday, July 13 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Game and Fish’s regional office located at 7200 E. University in Mesa. 

The second part of the workshop is a morning tour on Canyon Lake aboard the Dolly Steamboat. The on-the-water portion of the workshop will provide participants an opportunity to view sheep in their native environment accompanied by expert wildlife biologists and members of the Arizona Desert Bighorn Sheep Society. The boat ride will begin at 8 a.m. on Saturday, July 14 and last three hours.

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“In June, bighorn sheep stay pretty close to water,” said John Dickson, wildlife manager in the Canyon Lake District. “The hotter it is, the better the opportunity will be to see the sheep along the water’s edge.”

The workshops are open to the public on a first-come, first-served basis. Space is limited to 139 people, the number of passengers the boat can hold. The cost is $30 per person and $27 for those over 60 years of age. To register, call the Dolly Steamboat at (480) 827-9144.

Participants are strongly encouraged to attend the classroom program to enhance the viewing opportunity the following day. To reserve your space for the classroom presentation, call Randy Babb at (480) 324-3546. The classroom program is limited to 70 people due to facility restrictions. 

Participants are encouraged to bring a camera, hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, and binoculars.  Snacks and drinks may be purchased from the Dolly Steamboat.

“It will be hot on the lake,” Dickson advised, “but that’s when bighorn come down for a drink. There is limited shade on the boats, and the temperatures will likely be in the triple digits.”

Anyone with questions about the workshop may contact Randy Babb at (480) 324-3546 or e-mail rbabb@azgfd.gov.


Commission to discuss dove seasons at upcoming meeting

The Arizona Game and Fish Commission will consider the commission orders setting upcoming dove, band-tailed pigeon and sandhill crane hunts during the Saturday, June 23 portion of its June 22-23 meeting at the Game and Fish Department headquarters at 5000 W. Carefree Highway in Phoenix (1.5 miles west of I-17). The commission orders establish seasons and season dates, bag and possession limits, and open/closed areas. The meeting begins at 8 a.m.

Also on June 23, the commission will consider the commission order for special big game license-tag seasons for 2013-14 for mule deer, white-tailed deer, pronghorn antelope, elk, turkey, javelina, bighorn sheep, buffalo, black bear and mountain lion. The commission will also consider applications from organizations for the 2013-14 special big game license-tags as per R12-4-120. 

The Friday, June 22 portion of the commission meeting will begin at 8 a.m. and include the following agenda items:

  • Updates on state and federal legislation, shooting sports activities, information/education and wildlife recreation activities, recreational access issues, lands and habitat program, and law enforcement program activities.
  • A briefing on the budget development process for fiscal years 2014 and 2015.
  • Consideration of Shooting Range Grant requests for fiscal year 2013.
  • An update on The Nature Conservancy’s programs and accomplishments.
  • Proposed dates and locations of Arizona Game and Fish Commission meetings for 2013.
  • An update on the categories for the 2012 Commission Awards.
  • Consideration of several consent agenda items.
  • Hearings on license revocations for violations of Game and Fish codes and civil assessments for the illegal taking and/or possession of wildlife (time certain at 2 p.m.).

The public can view the meeting any of three ways: (1) attending the meeting in person in Phoenix; (2) viewing it via video stream at any of six Game and Fish regional offices; or, (3) viewing it over the Web at www.azgfd.gov/commissioncam.

Those wishing to submit “blue slips” to present oral comment during the meeting must do so either at the Phoenix meeting or at any of the regional Game and Fish offices (Pinetop, Flagstaff, Kingman, Yuma, Tucson and Mesa). For office addresses and contact information, visit www.azgfd.gov/offices.

The Arizona Game and Fish Commission is the policy-setting board overseeing the Arizona Game and Fish Department. It consists of five members (serving staggered five-year terms) appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate. No more than one commissioner may be from any one county. No more than three may be from the same political party. Since its inception in 1929, this organizational structure has served as a buffer for the best interests of science-driven wildlife conservation during eight decades of back-and-forth political change.
   
For a complete meeting agenda or to learn more about the Game and Fish Commission, visit www.azgfd.gov/commission.


Comments sought on reptile, raptor, amphibian and mollusk regulations

The Arizona Game and Fish Department is seeking public comments on draft 2013-2014 regulations for reptiles, raptors, crustaceans and mollusks, and amphibians.

Public comment will be accepted until July 11, 2012. If warranted, public meetings on the proposed changes to these commission orders may be held in Phoenix, Tucson and/or Flagstaff.

Most of the proposed changes being considered for the 2013-2014 commission orders involve compliance with a new Commission Rule that will become effective January 1, 2013. Another notable change is the removal of an open season for Aspidoscelis arizonae (Arizona whiptail).

To see the draft commission orders, click here.

For more information, call (623) 236-7500. To provide written comments, send correspondences to: Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program, Arizona Game and Fish Department, 5000 W. Carefree Highway, Phoenix, Arizona 85086, or by e-mail to: CommOrd25@azgfd.gov  (Raptors); CommOrd41&43@azgfd.gov (Amphibians and Reptiles); and CommOrd42@azgfd.gov  (Crustaceans and Mollusks).


2012 Arizona Wildlife Views television show now available on the web

You can now watch all of the latest episodes of Arizona Wildlife Views with host Jim Paxon whenever you want by visiting www.azgfd.gov/video

Our 2012 season contains 13 new episodes highlighting the best in Arizona outdoor recreation and conservation activities. You’ll see the extraordinary measures biologists take to assist Arizona’s bald eagles, get fishing tips from a bass pro, go on a rollicking duck hunt, experience a day in the life of an Arizona game ranger, and so much more. There are more than 40 new stories to view, and the 2012 season is easily accessed in one playlist.

Arizona Wildlife Views is an Emmy-winning program that is produced by the Information Branch of the Arizona Game and Fish Department. The show airs on local PBS and city cable channels across the state. Check local listings for dates and times.

By using the new, updated video page on the Arizona Game and Fish website, you can search for new programs, old favorites, or any topic in our video files. 

Please check us out at www.azgfd.gov/video.


Arizona Wildlife Views producer wins national award

Carol Lynde, a producer of the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s award-winning Arizona Wildlife Views television show, has earned a prestigious Excellence in Craft award from the Outdoor Writers Association of America (OWAA). She will be recognized at OWAA’s annual conference in Fairbanks, Alaska on Sept. 6, 2012.

Lynde was awarded first place in the TV/Video division of the Family Participation/Youth Outdoor Education category for “Junior Jack Kamp”. This category recognizes excellence in communcating the value and enjoyment of family participation and youth education in the outdoors.

Junior Jack Kamp is a fun camping and hunting experience sponsored by the Arizona Game and Fish Department and its partners. The free camp allowed 18 youngsters between the ages of 10 to 14 and their adult partners to spend the weekend together enjoying the great outdoors. 

In addition to being a producer for Arizona Wildlife Views, Lynde produces a variety of wildlife and outdoor recreation videos for Arizona Game and Fish. 

The 1,100-member Outdoor Writers Association of America is the oldest and largest association of professional outdoor communicators in the United States.


Wildlife photographers: Enter your best images in the wildlife photo contest

2012_WLV_Calendar_web.jpg
Have you captured a fabulous wildlife photo? Would you like to share it with others who love Arizona wildlife? Submit it to our annual photo contest.

Entry is easy: send up to three photos via email to photocontest@azgfd.gov or use the file-sharing website YouSendIt. For full details, visit www.azgfd.gov/photocontest.

Your photo could be showcased in the 2013 Arizona Wildlife Calendar, in the November–December issue of Arizona Wildlife Views magazine. Winners also receive cash prizes and courtesy copies of the magazine. All pictures must be of Arizona wildlife and must be taken in Arizona. We’re looking for images of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish; no insects (including butterflies), please!

Some people have expressed concern about how photos are judged. The judging process is “blind,” meaning entrants are assigned a number and their pictures are evaluated anonymously.

Personal information is not attached to images or revealed before the judging process begins.
Photos are evaluated on creativity, photographic quality, effectiveness in conveying the unique character of the subject, and whether or not submitted images meet basic size and formatting requirements.

Deadline for submissions to this year’s wildlife photo contest is July 9 at 5 p.m. MST. There is no fee to enter. Mark your calendar and start shooting!


Nonnative turtle numbers up from 2011 at Phoenix Zoo trapping event

After a three-day management effort to remove nonnative turtles from a Papago Park pond near the entrance of the Phoenix Zoo, biologists trapped a total of 142 turtles, including 139 pond sliders, one spiny softshell, one painted turtle, and one eastern redbelly turtle. None of these species are native to Arizona. 

Since the annual trapping event began in 1999, trapping totals had been going down each year. However, 2012 represented the second year that trapping totals increased. Biologists believe this indicates an increase in the number of people releasing unwanted pet turtles since many of the non-native turtles that were trapped showed evidence of being in captivity. 

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Every year, it is estimated that hundreds of unwanted pet turtles are released into the Papago Park pond by their owners. Owners often purchase turtles when they are small without considering how large they become. Believing they are doing the best thing for their unwanted pet, they release them in public ponds. 

Since 1999, more than 900 turtles have been captured at this pond, representing 15 species, and almost 500 turtles have been permanently removed. The Phoenix Herpetological Society takes the female non-native turtles to their sanctuary in Scottsdale, where the turtles will remain until adopted; males were returned to the pond.

Federal regulations prohibit the sale of turtles smaller than four inches long as pets to help prevent salmonella, an infection that young children are especially prone to contract. Arizona also has a law prohibiting the sale of any animal, including turtles, on or adjacent to public streets and parks in Maricopa and Pima counties.

The trapping program was a joint effort of the Arizona Game and Fish Department, Phoenix Zoo, Phoenix Herpetological Society and more than 100 volunteers.


In remembrance of fallen firefighter Anthony Polk

The Arizona Game and Fish Department joins Arizonans in mourning the loss of Anthony Polk, the first wildland firefighter killed in the state this season.

Polk, 31, an engine boss from Yuma, lost his life on June 8 when his brush fire engine rolled over while en route to the Montezuma Fire in southern Arizona.

A member of the Quechan/San Carolos Apache Indian Tribe, Polk attended the Fort Yuma Academy for Firefighters and subsequently obtained a position with the Fort Yuma Agency, where he became a leader of the Prescribed Fire Operations/Fuels Program.

He was a firing boss and incident commander Type 4 as well as an engine boss, and training to be a fire investigator and a burn boss. He worked with several organizations, including U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, and local fire departments. His responsibility was to all five tribes along the Colorado River regarding the fuels program.

Polk served 10 years with the Bureau of Indian Affairs and will be remembered as a teacher among his coworkers and as a dedicated firefighter in the community, said Agency Superintendent Irene Herder.

“Anthony devoted his life to assuring the safety of others before himself,” said Quechan Tribal President Keeny Escalanti, Sr., in the news release.

Polk is survived by a five-year-old daughter, his mother, his grandmother, and numerous relatives and friends.

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