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Wildlife News - Dec. 18, 2009

Posted in: Wildlife News
Dec 18, 2009
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  • New state record striper caught during major winter storm
  • Applications being accepted for 2010 Arizona elk, pronghorn hunts
  • Provide input to the State Wildlife Action Plan via an online survey
  • Bald Eagle Nestwatch program earns “Showcase in Excellence” award
  • Urban Fishing Program celebrates 25th anniversary in 2010
  • Stop by your local Game and Fish office to wrap up your holiday shopping
  • Commission Awards Banquet is Jan. 16
  • AGFD, NSSF work together to grow hunting and shooting sports
  • Volunteers remove 10 tons of trash from wildlife habitat

New state record striper caught during major winter storm
Angler reels in a fishing bonanza at Lake Pleasant

While most people were huddled indoors out of the torrential rain on Dec. 7 while a major winter storm pummeled the state, John Davis was enjoying a fishing bonanza at Lake Pleasant, including landing a new inland state record striped bass.

“I’ve never experienced anything quite like it, they were hitting topwater all day long in the rain. It was really something,” Davis said.

Arizona Game and Fish Department officials say John’s monster striper weighed in at 28.58 pounds and measured 45.7 inches long. He caught the behemoth on a Zara Super Spook, which is a topwater lure.

What’s more, he was the only angler out there braving the storm, and reaping the benefits.

John said the behemoth striper actually hit the lure twice without being hooked, but came back a third time. John was amazed he could even land the fish – it ran like a runaway freight train, tearing off line and it took him some time to subdue the giant.

Davis would like to have the striper mounted, or at least have a replica of it created.

Davis, a Phoenix resident, routinely fishes Lake Pleasant, but said he has never seen such phenomenal topwater action before. “The stripers were in a feeding frenzy in Humbug Cove. I was getting multiple hits on my topwater lures, all day long. It was amazing.”

John said that sometimes it rained very hard, but the wind didn’t blow, so it wasn’t too bad out there. “Actually, it was kind of nice.”

It’s always nice when you hit the jackpot. John caught and mostly released around 50 stripers during his rain-soaked, day-long fishing bonanza.

Game and Fish biologists said research studies at Lake Pleasant have shown that the majority of striped bass congregate in the northern coves during winter, especially over submerged creek and river channels.

“The striper fishing at Lake Pleasant has really taken off the past several years. In fact, the striper bite last winter was pretty remarkable – anglers were routinely catching dozens of fish. It looks like we are off to a good start again this winter,” said Fisheries Chief Kirk Young.

Lake Pleasant has not always had stripers, but it is the only lake in the state with white bass. However, when the Waddell Dam was raised in the early nineties, Central Arizona Project water from the Colorado River began being pumped into this popular desert reservoir on the Agua Fria River. Eventually, striped bass from the Colorado River got into the lake.

Applications being accepted for 2010 Arizona elk, pronghorn hunts
Regulations and forms now available at

The regulations for Arizona’s 2010 elk and pronghorn antelope seasons are available online at, and hunters interested in obtaining a hunt permit-tag via the draw process can start applying now.

Applications must be submitted to the Arizona Game and Fish Department by U.S. mail to P.O. Box 74020, Phoenix, AZ 85087-1052 or hand-delivered to any department office by Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2010 by 7 p.m. (MST) – postmarks do not count.

Hunters are reminded that a 2010 hunting license is required to apply. Department officials encourage hunters to get their license before applying for an elk or antelope hunt permit-tag if they wish to do any other hunting in early 2010. Licenses purchased through the draw process will not be mailed out until after the draw is completed.

Those who submit an application that is received by Jan. 21, 2010 (the end of the “correction period”) will receive up to three calls from the department in a 24-hour period if an error is found on the application. If the applicant is reached by phone, the department will try to help fix the error to prevent it from being rejected.

Arizona Game and Fish Department officials said printed copies of the regulations and application forms should be available at license dealers across the state in early January 2010.

The Arizona Game and Fish Commission set the 2010 elk and pronghorn antelope hunt orders during their regularly scheduled meeting on Dec. 5, authorizing a grand total of 952 pronghorn and 26,702 elk permits.

There were a couple of changes made to the proposed recommendations during the meeting for both elk and antelope.

Unit 19B antelope hunters can be thankful for an agreement arranged by Commissioner Robert “Robbie” Woodhouse with the Chino Grande Ranch that will continue to allow hunters access on the ranch during the 2010 season. Closure of the property to the public would have resulted in a reduction of 45 antelope permits in the unit.

“We are very glad that Chino Grande Ranch decided to keep their property open to sportsmen,” said Commissioner Woodhouse. “This is a great example of how teamwork and cooperation can resolve an issue. Open communication and cooperation between the commission, department, sportsmen, and landowners are critical to preserving our hunting heritage in Arizona.”

Sportsmen are reminded that access to private land is a privilege, and their conduct and behavior can have an effect on their ability to hunt in these areas in the future.

Unit 1 elk hunters will see an increase in the number of available antlerless permits compared to the proposed recommendations in an effort to stabilize that growing herd. One hundred and forty more permits will be available in this unit through a number of hunts.

An agreement with the Hopi Tribe will allow 2010 antelope and elk hunters from the general populace access to sovereign Hopi Trust Lands within Units 4A, 5A, and 5B. Through the agreement, a proportion of the available permits will be exclusively for Hopi tribal members.

To learn more about the big game draw lottery process, bonus points, and available leftover spring javelina hunting permits, visit

Provide input to the State Wildlife Action Plan via an online survey
Public meetings will continue in January and February

You can now provide your input into Arizona’s State Wildlife Action Plan (SWAP) by accessing an online survey at

The survey solicits your opinions on (1) the importance of various criteria used to identify species of greatest conservation need, (2) your opinions on the importance of various criteria used to identify habitat for wildlife conservation, (3) your opinions on how much of a threat certain factors pose to Arizona wildlife.

The survey is part of a public review process for updating the plan.

The department will continue its series of public meetings in January and February (one meeting was already held Dec. 15 in Kingman). At each meeting, presentations on the proposed revision will begin at 3 p.m. and will be followed by active work tables until 7 p.m., if needed. The meeting will end early if the needs of the participants have been met prior to 7 p.m.

The remaining meetings are scheduled from 3-7 p.m. on these dates:

  • Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2010, Tucson, Arizona Game and Fish Department Tucson regional office, 555 N. Greasewood Road.

  • Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2010, Yuma, Arizona Game and Fish Department Yuma regional office, 9140 E. 28th St.

  • Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2010, Mesa, Arizona Game and Fish Department Mesa regional office, 7200 E. University Drive.

  • Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2010, Pinetop, Arizona Game and Fish Department Pinetop regional office, 2878 E. White Mountain Blvd.

  • Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2010, Flagstaff, Radisson Woodlands Hotel,1175 West Route 66.

  • Thursday, Feb. 25, 2010, Phoenix, Arizona Game and Fish Department Headquarters, 5000 W. Carefree Highway.

Arizona’s SWAP, previously known as the Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy, builds on and complements existing plans and wildlife conservation projects and provides a vision for managing Arizona’s fish, wildlife, and wildlife habitats over the next 10 years. It is a means to receive federal funding for wildlife conservation in the form of state wildlife grants.

The plan outlines strategies and conservation actions aimed at promoting partnerships and coordinating efforts among all who hold a stake in conserving Arizona’s wildlife.

The existing SWAP document, along with some new maps and documents, is posted at A DVD of the complete set of SWAP maps (there are more than 340) can be requested through

Bald Eagle Nestwatch program earns “Showcase in Excellence” award

The Bald Eagle Nestwatch Program operated by the Arizona Game and Fish Department has received a Showcase in Excellence award from the Arizona Quality Alliance (AQA).

We are thrilled to have received another Showcase in Excellence Award for one of our most innovative processes,” said Assistant Director Mike Senn, head of the department’s Wildlife Management Division.

Senn said the quality award shows the department is not only doing the right thing for our national symbol, the bald eagle, but also doing it in the right way with an eye toward continuous improvement.

“We strive to have some of the most innovative and progressive wildlife programs around, so it is nice to receive this recognition affirming our commitment to quality,” Senn said.

This is not the department’s first award on its quality journey.

In 2008, the Game and Fish Department received a Showcase In Excellence Award for its Hunt Recommendation process. In 2007, the department received two Showcase In Excellence Awards – one for its Endangered Species Recovery process and another for its Urban Lake Stocking process. The Arizona Quality Alliance also awarded the Department the Pioneer Award for Quality in 2005.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Arizona Bald Eagle Nestwatch Program (ABENWP) is a unique, cost-effective process that involves cooperation from federal, state, local, and tribal agencies as well as nongovernmental organizations and private landowners.

The Nestwatch Program helps conserve Arizona’s small bald eagle population in areas with high recreation pressures. “Nestwatchers” contracted annually by the department monitor bald eagle nests from February to June. They act as a safeguard to the bald eagle’s breeding activities by directing people away from the sensitive areas where they nest, and notifying department biologists when bald eagles are in life-threatening situations.

Due in part to the long-term success of the Nestwatch Program, the bald eagle numbers over the past 30 years have grown nearly 600 percent in the state.

The Showcase in Excellence Award is a specific award within the AQA’s Arizona Performance Excellence Award Program. It recognizes organizations for excellence in specific processes. Organizations may apply on behalf of any organizational process they believe is exceptional.

The department will be presented this prestigious award at a banquet to be held on Feb. 2, 2010 at the Chaparral Suites Resort, 5001 N. Scottsdale Road.

Urban Fishing Program celebrates 25th anniversary in 2010
Newly designed guidebook now available

2010 marks the 25th anniversary of the Urban Fishing Program. A new program Guidebook has been created to enable the public to take even greater advantage of this wonderful recreational resource. The attractive, high-quality book helps anglers of all ages figure out where to fish, when to fish, how to fish, what to fish with, and much more.

Major features of the new Guidebook include:

  • The 2010 fish stocking calendar
  • How the Urban Fishing Program works
  • Fishing regulations at a glance
  • Timeline of the program over the past 25 years
  • All new lake and park maps
  • Listings of family-friendly park amenities
  • Fishing tips section
  • Fishing equipment checklist 
  • What you need to get started

The 2010 Guidebooks are free and available at Game and Fish Department offices or any of our 300+ license dealers. So, pick up a Guidebook and get ready to celebrate your Urban Fishing Program in 2010.

There are 21 lakes in the Urban Fishing Program (16 in the Phoenix metro area, 4 in the Tucson vicinity, and one in Payson). A 2010 urban license is required to fish these lakes, costs $18.50 for residents and nonresidents, and is good from Jan. 1 through Dec. 31, 2010.

For more information, visit

Stop by your local Game and Fish office to wrap up your holiday shopping

The Arizona Game and Fish Department offers many unique and must-have gifts for the outdoor enthusiast and wildlife lovers in your life.

The seven offices around the state are open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday – Friday, except on Friday, Dec. 25 and Friday, Jan. 1, 2010 (all offices will be closed those days).

Outdoor holiday gift picks include:

  • Fishin_Holes_cover_web.jpg
    Arizona Fishing Holes updated edition, $8 –
    The long-awaited, updated guide to public fishing waters and facilities in Arizona is hot off the presses, just in time for the holidays. Modernized to include GPS coordinates for each lake, up-to-date resource telephone numbers, and even Internet addresses so you can easily get the latest fishing information, even as you travel to your favorite fishery. Will be available in department offices next week. A must-have for any angler in Arizona!

  • Arizona Wildlife Viewing Guide, $14.95 – This guide loaded with beautiful photographs takes you through 128 unique locations and the wildlife found at them. Readers will enjoy tips for wildlife watching, a tiered rating system that highlights “can’t miss” locations, site features and driving directions. Can also be ordered by visiting

  • Arizona Wildlife Views magazine, $8.50 – Published bimonthly by the Arizona Game and Fish Department, the magazine offers a variety of articles on hunting, fishing, boating, wildlife viewing and conservation in our state, as well as “Focus Wild” children’s articles. Can also be ordered by visiting

  • 2010 Arizona Wildlife calendar, $3 – Enjoy the spectacular photos take by you of Arizona’s wildlife selected from our annual photo contest. The calendar will provide daily enjoyment, as well as note key wildlife events and approved hunting and fishing season dates. Can also be ordered by visiting

  • Sponsor-a-Turtle Program, starting at $25 – Support Arizona’s turtle conservation by sponsoring a turtle in the name of a friend or loved one. All sponsors will receive a Turtles Project sponsor kit, which includes a personalized sponsorship certificate and a photo of a turtle in the chosen sponsorship level. Details at

  • Javelina hunting permit-tag, $28.50 residents/$22.50 juniors – There are thousands of remaining spring javelina hunting permits, including general, HAM, archery-only and juniors-only hunts that can be purchased in person at any department office, so take to the field and build some memories. Details at

  • Lifetime Arizona Fishing and Hunting Licenses $200 and up (depending on age) – No longer will you worry about last-minute license purchases, expiration deadlines, license fee increases or residency requirements. Privileges are retained for life. For more information, visit and select the licenses icon. 

For more information on purchasing these gifts that are sure to please, visit the department’s Web site at

Commission Awards Banquet is Jan. 16

Make plans to honor your fellow conservationists at the annual Arizona Game and Fish Commission Awards Banquet on Saturday, Jan. 16, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel at 2532 W. Peoria Ave. in Phoenix.

The banquet recognizes individuals and organizations that have contributed to Arizona's wildlife resources and the mission of the Arizona Game and Fish Department. The event begins at 5:30 p.m., followed by dinner and presentation of the commission awards.

Award recipients who will be recognized are:

  • Awards of Excellence (4) – Phoenix Herpetological Society, Arizona Wildlife Federation, Rachel Bacalzo, Eric English
  • Youth Environmentalist of the Year – Shelby Miller
  • Outdoor Writer of the Year – Stephanie Rainey
  • Media of the Year – Outdoor Wires
  • Conservation Organization of the Year – Liberty Wildlife
  • Conservationist of the Year – Jim Unmacht
  • Natural Resource Professional of the Year – Heidi Blasius
  • Volunteer of the Year – Steve Clark
  • Educator of the Year – Dave Brown
  • Mentor of the Year – Scott Bonar
  • Advocate of the Year – Sandy Bahr
  • License Dealer of the Year – Sprague’s Sports
  • Wildlife Habitat Stewardship Award – Jim O’Haco

Individual tickets are $55 (tickets for award winners, spouses and immediate family are complimentary.) Tables of 10 are $500 - a discount of $50.

Organizations can purchase “award table sponsorships” for $550. These sponsorships include a table in the organization's name, logo advertisement in the event program, recognition in the introductory PowerPoint presentation and event press release, and five banquet tickets for the organization. Other sponsorships are available.

For more information or to obtain a reservation form, visit and click on the “commission awards” link, or contact the department ombudsman, Marty Fabritz, at (623) 236-7281 or

AGFD, NSSF work together to grow hunting and shooting sports

Steve Sanetti, president of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, addresses a gathering of reporters.
With the assistance of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the Arizona Fish and Game Department is working to secure the future of hunting by tapping the enthusiasm of youth and seniors.

The department and NSSF discussed hunter/angler/shooter recruitment and retention and new and existing programs at a Dec. 7 press conference at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility in Phoenix. Two of the initiatives have been made possible by grants provided by the National Shooting Sports Foundation totaling $82,500.

These are the first grants the department has received through NSSF's Hunting Heritage Partnership Program, which has provided nearly $3.4 million in assistance to wildlife agencies over the past seven years to create hunting and recreational shooting opportunities.

"NSSF's Hunting Heritage Partnership grants are awarded based on the potential for developing new hunters and shooters and reactivating inactive sportsmen and women," said Steve Sanetti, president of the National Shooting Sports Foundation. "Arizona's new programs show real promise for success, and NSSF is proud to support them."

A Senior Hunts program seeks to motivate sportsmen who have reduced their time spent afield or stopped hunting altogether to use their years of experience to pass on knowledge and skills to a new generation of hunters. Seniors can serve as mentors in the field and in the classroom to give newcomers and novices expertise that would take years to develop on their own.

Research being conducted by Mark Damian Duda, president of Responsive Management, is utilizing focus groups to obtain input on the role senior hunters can play as mentors.

A second mentoring program encourages sportsmen's organizations to develop small game camps to help get youth hunters started hunting and to utilize the state's new apprentice hunting license program that allows a youth to hunt with a licensed mentor before taking a hunter education course. A list of small game camps, including upcoming camps in January and in the spring, can be found at

"We have utilized the latest research on participation in developing these introductory hunting programs," said Larry Voyles, director of Arizona Fish & Game. "We thank NSSF for its generous support and for funding the Hunting Heritage Partnership. This is a great example of how state agencies and industry can work together to preserve hunting."

Nationally, apprentice hunting license programs pioneered by the Families Afield program (jointly supported by NSSF, the U.S. Sportsman's Alliance and National Wild Turkey Federation), have resulted in more than 300,000 new youth hunters over the last several years.

Apprentice hunting licenses are new to Arizona as of this year.

Arizona was one of nine state wildlife agencies to receive nearly $500,000 in grants through NSSF's Hunting Heritage Partnership in 2009. Since the inception of the Hunting Heritage Partnership, 37 states have received funding.

For more information about outdoor recreational activities in Arizona and ways you can participate, visit

Volunteers remove 10 tons of trash from wildlife habitat

Nearly 100 volunteers consisting of hunters, guides, sportsmen’s groups and other organizations joined Game and Fish Region V (southeastern Arizona) staff in cleaning up and removing an estimated 10 tons of trash left by illegal border crossers.

The Dec. 5-6 event was organized by Hunters Who Care, a group engaged in desert cleanup and restoration in support of landowners near the border impacted by illegal immigration issues. The participants filled approximately 200 large garbage bags with trash, personal possessions and other debris left behind by unauthorized entrants into the United States while they were en route through local ranches and hunting and fishing areas.

The U.S. Border Patrol estimates that there are between 400 and 500 illegal border crossings daily in its Tucson sector, ranging from the New Mexico state line to the Yuma County line.

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