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Wildlife News - April 20, 2012

Posted in: Wildlife News
Apr 20, 2012
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  • Mountain lakes open up as triple-digit heat hits deserts
  • Spring ferret spotlighting effort a success
  • Be “bear aware” as weather warms up
  • Smallmouth bass posing a threat to native fish in Fossil Creek
  • Nominations sought for Arizona Outdoor Hall of Fame
  • Pena Blanca Lake bolstered with bass, sunfish and catfish
  • Reward offered for information in Mexican wolf shooting in Arizona
  • Game and Fish to host wildlife fair in Kingman
  • Still time for license holders to get discounted Suns tickets 

Mountain lakes open up as triple-digit heat hits deserts

Arizona’s premier trout lakes in the cool mountains are now accessible and ice-free just in time for the first onslaught of triple-digit temperatures in the deserts, advised Arizona Game and Fish Department officials.

“The sparkling trout lakes along the Mogollon Rim are accessible. Plus all the roads are open into Big Lake in the White Mountains, as well,” said Rory Aikens, the weekly fishing report editor for Game and Fish.

The trout stockings are also well underway in the popular mountain fisheries. For instance, the gurgling streams below the Mogollon Rim, including Christopher Creek, Tonto Creek, Haigler Creek and the East Verde River, are all being stocked this week.

“I talked with the good folks who run the stores at both Woods Canyon Lake and Big Lake. They are both open for business, boat rentals are available, and the fishing is terrific right now. You might even catch some larger hold-over trout,” Aikens said.

There is even something new this year to assist trout anglers – the 2012 Stocking Schedule posted on the Game and Fish website is now interactive. Simply click on the name of the fishery that strikes your fancy and you will not only see a map of the fishery, but where appropriate, the map also will show the exact locations where trout are stocked. The site can even provide you directions to the fishery.

That’s not the only new online information tool for anglers. The Game and Fish website also has an interactive fishing map showing around 300 fishing sites across Arizona.

“This interactive online map is Google based and has all kinds of great information on the lakes, rivers and streams. My advice is get onto the interactive fishing map, explore, and have fun figuring out where to go for family fishing adventures,” Aikens said.

Don’t forget that you can also sign up to have the weekly fishing report sent directly to your computer at

In addition, there is a new Arizona Fishing Guide available that was a joint project between Game and Fish and Arizona Highways magazine.

The informative fishing guide is available at all Game and Fish offices, the Arizona Highways store, and has been distributed to Barnes & Noble bookstores, Costco stores, and other book-selling locations. You also may buy it online at or at

“Besides providing lots of fishing tips, we tried to capture the character of each fishery. You’ll even find some interesting historical anecdotes on many of the waters,” said Aikens, who wrote the fishing guide.

Be sure to get your 2012 fishing license. In fact, you might even become eligible for a rebate from Shakespeare on the purchase of your license.

From now through August, if you buy any two Shakespeare products that total $40 and show proof you have a 2012 fishing license, you may submit proof of those by mail and receive a $10 rebate. The mail-in rebate form can be found at

“I think everything is coming together for a fun-packed fishing season in Arizona,” Aikens said. “It’s time to catch some memories with your family.”

Spring ferret spotlighting effort a success
52 individual black-footed ferrets documented

The endangered black-footed ferret continues to shrug off its near extinction as it climbs the steep hill toward recovery.

The small, specialist carnivore once numbered just 18 in the world when captive breeding efforts began in 1985. Efforts in Arizona’s Aubrey Valley, near Seligman in northwestern Arizona, are showing promise as this animal continues to baffle the odds makers.

Spring spotlighting efforts – the method used to find the nocturnal animal – resulted in the documentation of 52 individual ferrets, 28 of which had never before been captured.

“This spring effort was a little earlier than we’d like, but we conduct spotlighting in conjunction with a full moon,” said Jennifer Cordova, a biologist with the recovery effort. “The full moon is when predatory animals are most active. Despite being a bit earlier in the year, we still had good results.”

Cordova credits the continued support of the public and the Heritage Fund in the recovery of the black-footed ferret. The spring effort included 139 volunteers, while the Heritage Fund provides the financial means for the Arizona Game and Fish Department to be the lead agency for the program with no cost to state taxpayers.

“These volunteers are committed to wildlife conservation efforts,” Cordova stated. “We would not be where we are today without their support.”

The current population numbers have Arizona meeting the original goals established for the recovery site, which boasts a self-sustaining population.

“There is reason for optimism for the species, but there’s a long way to go,” Cordova said. “Continued support from the public will play a pivotal role. Volunteers are crucial to help document ferret population trends throughout Aubrey Valley.”

A second spotlighting effort will be held in October. For anyone interested in obtaining additional information, write to or call (928) 422-0155. To receive current information from Game and Fish's Kingman regional office, search for Azgfd Kingman on Facebook.

Be “bear aware” as weather warms up 

As spring temperatures continue to warm in our state, the Arizona Game and Fish Department advises people who camp, recreate or live in bear habitat to be “bear aware,” as bears are coming out of their winter dens and becoming more active.

Consecutive dry winters and intermittent seasonal rains, coupled with the impacts from last year’s large fires, suggest there may be more cases of bears visiting residential areas this year in some parts of the state.  

Bears in search of food are often attracted to homes and into proximity with people. This close contact puts both humans and bears at risk. Most conflicts are the result of people unintentionally feeding bears, most often by allowing them access to household garbage, bird feeders, garden areas or trees bearing fruit.

“Bears may visit areas of human use because they find food. They are particularly attracted to household garbage continuously stored outside. Birdseed, pet food and fruit trees are common attractants,” said Regional Supervisor Raul Vega of the Game and Fish Tucson region. “Fed bears can lose their fear of humans and begin to associate people with food, sometimes causing property damage and even injuring people. But conflicts between humans and bears are preventable.”

Since garbage stored outside is the biggest attractant, storing garbage in a secure garage or shed until the morning of collection will virtually eliminate the chances of a bear visit. If a bear does not find a food source, it will move on. Fences, lighting and dogs have not been found to be effective, long-term deterrents when foods are available. Bears are good climbers, so to reduce a bear’s ability to get over a fence, it should be at least six feet tall and constructed of non-climbable material.

Recognizing the potential risk to both humans and bears, Game and Fish spends considerable time and money each year relocating bears. Unfortunately, this effort does little for the bears or homeowners. Some bears must be destroyed because they are considered too dangerous, have lost their fear of humans, or continue to get into conflicts with people. Following removal or relocation, the homeowner might experience more problems from a different bear if the identified attractant is not eliminated. Relocating a bear is also traumatic for the animal and does not guarantee it will live. Some are killed by larger, older bears that have established territory in an area.

If a bear is in your yard or neighborhood and refuses to leave, immediately contact your closest Game and Fish office during business hours, or call 1-800-352-0700 evenings, weekends and holidays. Depending on what the bear is doing, department personnel may respond if it remains in the area.

If you see a bear in the distance, go in a different direction to avoid it. Bears rarely approach people. If a bear does approach you, discourage it by:

  • Giving the bear a chance to leave the area.
  • Staying calm if the bear does not leave, continuing to face it, and slowly backing away.
  • NEVER running and NEVER playing dead.

Black bears are the only species of bear in Arizona. Although they are called black bears, their fur color can vary widely and include brown, cinnamon and blond bears. These are the smallest and most common type of bear in North America. Other black bear facts include that they:

  • Weigh 125-400 pounds; males are larger than females.
  • Are 3 to 3-1/2 feet high when standing on all four feet.
  • Usually live in forests, woodlands, chaparral areas, and desert areas with water sources like streams and springs.
  • Roam an area of seven to 15 square miles.
  • Produce two to three cubs born in January or February.
  • Live up to 25 years in the wild. 
  • Are most active between dawn and dusk.

Bears are classified as big game animals in Arizona and are protected by state law. It is unlawful to feed wildlife, including bears, in many places.

Smallmouth bass posing a threat to native fish in Fossil Creek

Non-native smallmouth bass have been detected above both the permanent and temporary man-made fish barriers along Fossil Creek, which is a unique fishery and haven for native fish including roundtail and headwater chub, said Arizona Game and Fish Department officials. 

"Right now we can’t say for certain how the smallmouth bass got above the upstream temporary barrier at Fossil Creek,” Fisheries Chief Kirk Young said. "These bass definitely pose a threat to the native fish in this rare stream."

The bass could have migrated upstream before the temporary barrier was constructed, possibly gotten past the temporary barrier, or somebody could have illegally introduced them.
Six of the nine smallmouth bass observed recently have been removed, and biologists are back at the creek this week going after the remaining known non-native fish.

“There are lots of places for fish to hide in this rare travertine stream, so while we will work hard to physically remove the smallmouth, there aren’t any guarantees,” Young said.

Game and Fish biologists are working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, and Bureau of Reclamation to address the long-term goal of removing any smallmouth bass and ensuring the fish barrier works as intended.

Shaula Hedwall, a fishery biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said the best strategy is to take one step at a time and have everyone working together on common objectives. “In fact, at Fossil Creek, a multitude of agencies and partners have a remarkable history of working together to overcome obstacles.”

Fossil Creek is located near Strawberry in north-central Arizona. The fish barrier on the lower end of the creek was built in 2004, and at that time, a large multi-agency effort involving many stakeholders successfully removed all non-native fish from the stream. Before the renovation, non-native fish were one of the primary causes for the decline of native fish in Fossil Creek, and their presence now threatens all of the native aquatic species in the creek, including the native sport fishery.

It also took a major effort to restore the historical flows to Fossil Creek – a significant portion of those flows had been diverted for hydro-electric generating purposes for almost 100 years to help Arizona grow and flourish.

Not long after the fish barrier was built, the non-native fishes removed, and the flows restored, the Game and Fish Commission established a seasonal catch-and-release-only roundtail fishery along a section of Fossil Creek.

For years, the fish barrier worked as designed. However, a flood in the winter of 2010 affected the barrier. An attempt was made to fix the barrier; however in July 2011, non-native smallmouth bass were detected above the barrier.

A temporary fish barrier was constructed about two miles upstream of the original barrier in August of 2011. This temporary barrier was placed at a site believed to be upstream of the known distribution of the smallmouth bass that had gotten above the downstream barrier.

“Obviously our primary goal at this time is to remove non-native fish from above the fish barriers at Fossil Creek. The one guarantee we have is there are lots of folks willing to work diligently together to make that happen,” Young said.

Nominations sought for Arizona Outdoor Hall of Fame

Nominations for induction into the Arizona Outdoor Hall of Fame are being sought by Wildlife for Tomorrow. The deadline is May 11, 2012, at 5 p.m.

The nonprofit foundation established the award and induction event in 1998 to recognize individuals, corporations, organizations and others who have made significant, consistent and lasting contributions to benefit Arizona’s wildlife, the welfare of its natural resources, and the state’s outdoor heritage. Nominations for the award will be reviewed by the foundation’s board of directors and the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

This year’s inductees will be honored Aug. 25 at the foundation’s 15th annual banquet at the Chaparral Suites Scottsdale, 5001 N. Scottsdale Road.

Past inductees have been individuals with backgrounds in wildlife volunteerism, corporate leadership, politics, wildlife art, and the media, including Ben Avery, Barry Goldwater, Morris K. Udall, Bill Quimby and Tom Woods, as well as groups and organizations such as Adobe Mountain Wildlife Center Volunteers, Rio Salado Sportsman’s Club, Arizona Public Service and Salt River Project.

Wildlife for Tomorrow was created in 1990 to enhance the management, protection and enjoyment of Arizona’s fish and wildlife resources. The foundation is an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that works with Game and Fish to provide additional support for projects and education activities where traditional resources are not adequate.

For a nomination form and requirements (people submitting nominations are asked to include a detailed biographical sketch of the nominee) and a look at previous winners, please go to:

You may mail your nomination to:

Wildlife for Tomorrow Foundation
c/o Arizona Game and Fish Department
Attn: Ben Alteneder, DOHQ
5000 W. Carefree Highway
Phoenix, AZ 85086

Nominations also may be submitted by fax to (623) 236-7903, or by e-mail to Ben Alteneder at For further information, call (623) 236-7334.

For more information about Wildlife for Tomorrow, visit

Pena Blanca Lake bolstered with bass, sunfish and catfish

The Arizona Game and Fish Department stocked a total of nearly 2,000 largemouth bass, channel catfish, and redear and bluegill sunfish last week to Pena Blanca Lake near Nogales in southern Arizona, marking the beginning of an effort to re-establish those populations there after a dredging project by the U.S. Forest Service.

“Timing is everything when stocking fish, and the timing could not have been better in this case,” said Fish Program Supervisor Don Mitchell of Game and Fish in Tucson. “It just so happens that the department is ready to begin the renovation of its Bubbling Pond warmwater fish hatchery, and the current resident population of warmwater fish had to be moved to facilitate the project. Luckily, we were first in line to receive these fish, and I think the anglers are going to be very excited about the quality of the fish we were able to stock.”

The stocked fish included several channel catfish weighing between 15 and 20 pounds each, largemouth bass of various sizes, and even a redear sunfish that may be a new state record.

Game and Fish is reminding anglers that all largemouth bass caught there must be released alive immediately. This regulation change was made to allow for stocked fish to mature and reproduce, speeding up their re-establishment at Pena Blanca.

“One of the major challenges with this project is balancing the needs of the angling public with that of native Chiricahua leopard frogs found in and around Pena Blanca Lake,” said Regional Supervisor Raul Vega of Game and Fish in Tucson. “We are committed to protecting Chiricahua leopard frog populations, and it is imperative that American bullfrogs not become reestablished at the lake.”

Game and Fish is taking steps to prevent bullfrog reestablishment there, and it is asking for the public’s help, as well.

Suspected illegal stocking of any aquatic species to Pena Blanca Lake should be reported immediately to Operation Game Thief at 1-800-352-0700.  
In addition, all health advisories against eating warmwater fish caught at Pena Blanca Lake remain in effect. It is not known when those advisories will be lifted, and will depend on decisions made by the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality.

Reward offered for information in Mexican wolf shooting in Arizona
Joint announcement from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Arizona Game and Fish Department

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service special agents and Arizona Game and Fish Department law enforcement personnel recovered the carcass of a Mexican wolf pup on March 27, 2012, found next to Forest Road 249 west of Alpine, Ariz. They identified it as female pup fp1247, produced by the Hawks Nest Pack in 2011.

A preliminary exam failed to reveal an obvious cause of death. The carcass was shipped to the National Fish and Wildlife Service forensics lab in Oregon for a complete necropsy, where it was determined the wolf died of a single gunshot wound.

If anyone has information regarding this incident, they are requested to contact the Fish and Wildlife Service special agent at (928) 213-8017 or Game and Fish's Operation Game Thief at (800) 352-0700.

The Fish and Wildlife Service is offering a reward of up to $10,000 and Arizona Game and Fish Operation Game Thief is offering a reward of up to $1,000 for information leading to the conviction of the individual(s) responsible for the illegal shooting death of this wolf or any other Mexican wolf. Other nongovernmental organizations and private individuals have pledged an additional $46,000 for a total reward amount of up to $57,000, depending on the information provided.

Game and Fish staff on the Mexican wolf Interagency Field Team (IFT) documented that the Hawks Nest Pack produced at least six pups last spring. Hawks Nest was one of three packs in Arizona directly affected by the Wallow Fire in the summer of 2011. The fire burned over the pack’s primary den site; however, pack members were able to move all the pups to safety.

The IFT believes at least four wolves remain in the pack, including the alpha pair AM1038 and f1208, male pup mp1244 (litter mate to fp1247) and an uncollared pup. This pack has had no documented livestock depredations or nuisance incidents with humans. These wolves have been able to live and breed in an area including livestock production, hunting, camping, hiking, woodcutting and OHV use with little to no interaction with the people that also use the area.

Mexican wolf reintroduction is a joint effort by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Arizona Game and Fish Department, White Mountain Apache Tribe, USDA Forest Service, USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service - Wildlife Services, and other stakeholders. The counties of Graham, Greenlee and Navajo are additional cooperators in the reintroduction.

For more information on the Mexican wolf in Arizona, visit, or the Mexican Wolf Recovery Program at

Game and Fish to host wildlife fair in Kingman
Free event features interactive efforts and live critters

It’s often been said that the best things in life are free.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Kingman region will serve as host to the 2012 Wildlife Fair, May 5, at Kingman Academy of Learning High School, 3420 N. Burbank St. The event, free and open to the public, will run from 1-5 p.m.

“One day only,” said Zen Mocarski, information and education program manager at the Kingman office. “There are going to be interactive booths, live wildlife, educational materials, and much more.”

Mocarski said all the materials are free and Game and Fish personnel will be on hand to answer questions.

The fair will have both indoor and outdoor activities, and will feature booths for off-highway vehicles, boating, wildlife, archery, hunter education, Operation Game Thief, casting games, fisheries, reptiles, and invasive species.

Joining Game and Fish in this effort will be the Game and Fish Department’s Adobe Mountain Wildlife Center, Arizona Falconer’s Association, Bureau of Land Management, Havasu National Wildlife Refuge, Lake Mead National Recreation Area (National Park Service), U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance, Arizona Antelope Foundation, and the Arizona Wildlife Federation.

“Along with the interactive activities and information, this fair provides the public an opportunity to come and speak to department personnel and the other agencies and organizations,” Mocarski said. “It’s critical for adults and youth to have an understanding of wildlife: the behavior of animals, their value, and potential risks of specific human behaviors.”

Mocarski added there will be plenty of photo opportunities and encourages those planning to attend to bring a camera.

“Kingman Academy has been kind enough to open their doors for this event,” Mocarski said. “The willingness of the school to provide a facility is the only way we can provide such an event for the public.”

If you have questions or wish additional information, please contact Zen Mocarski at (928) 692-7700, Ext. 2301 or via e-mail at

Still time for license holders to get discounted Suns tickets 

As the Phoenix Suns continue their fight to make the NBA playoffs, there's still time for Arizona hunting or fishing license holders to take advantage of a special offer from the Suns.

If you have a current Arizona hunting or fishing license, you can buy tickets at discounted prices for two upcoming games. If you haven’t already obtained your license for 2012, this is a great incentive to purchase one.

Discounted tickets will be available for the following games:

  • Saturday, April 21, 2:30 p.m. vs. Denver Nuggets
    200 level curve (regularly 44.75) for only $27
    100 level baseline (regularly $119.75) for only $92

  • Wednesday, April 25, 7:30 p.m. vs. San Antonio Spurs
    200 level curve (regularly $28.75) for only $22
    100 level baseline (regularly $104.75) for only $57

Those who take advantage of this deal will receive a free Suns camo hat and drawstring backpack with each ticket purchase.

Tickets can be ordered online at (use Promo Code: AZGFD).

For an informational flier, visit

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