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Wildlife News - Jan. 13, 2012

Posted in: Wildlife News
Jan 13, 2012
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  • Apply for elk, pronghorn hunts by Jan. 20 to take advantage of correction period
  • Heritage Fund helps Arizona’s sandhill cranes and communities grow
  • Sonoran pronghorn return to King Valley
  • Bring the family fishing, see live wildlife at free event at Cortez Lake
  • Arizona’s Official Fishing Guide is now at Game and Fish offices
  • Public invited to “Meet the Commission” on Jan. 14
  • $1,250 reward offered in poaching of deer near Ft. Huachuca
  • Learn outdoor skills at BOW Deluxe program
  • Commission votes to oppose HB 2072 (sale of big game tags)
  • Rotenone Review Advisory Committee issues final report
  • Senate confirms appointment of Kurt Davis to commission
  • In remembrance of MCSO Deputy William “Bill” Coleman


Apply for elk, pronghorn hunts by Jan. 20 to take advantage of correction period
Online application service is available

Hunters who apply for Arizona’s 2012 elk and pronghorn antelope hunts are encouraged to apply early to take advantage of the correction period.

If your application has an error and is received before 5 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 20, you will receive up to three phone calls from Game and Fish in a 24-hour period to help get the application corrected. After that date, mistakes can cause your application to be rejected.

The application deadline for elk and pronghorn hunts is Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2012 by 7 p.m. (MST).

The online application service is now available. Visit www.azgfd.gov/draw and click on the online application service link.

For those not using the online process, paper applications can still be mailed to the Arizona Game and Fish Department, Attn: Drawing Section, PO Box 74020, Phoenix, AZ 85087-1052, or they can be hand-delivered to any of the seven Game and Fish offices located in Pinetop, Flagstaff, Kingman, Yuma, Tucson, Mesa and Phoenix. Mailed applications must be received by the department by the deadline; postmarks don’t count.

Remember, a 2012 hunting license is required 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 can also be purchased at Game and Fish offices and at hunting/fishing license dealers throughout the state.

Copies of the 2012 Pronghorn Antelope and Elk Hunt Draw Information Booklet are available at Game and Fish offices and at hunting license dealers throughout the state. The booklet is also available online at www.azgfd.gov/draw.


Heritage Fund helps Arizona’s sandhill cranes and communities grow
Cranes increase by more than 30,000 and provide spectacular viewing opportunities

From just over 4,000 in the late 1970s to over 34,000 today, more sandhill cranes are calling Arizona their winter home, in part thanks to the Heritage Fund. The Heritage Fund, which was created by a voter initiative to use Arizona Lottery dollars to support wildlife conservation, has been used to help secure ideal habitat for the birds in southeastern Arizona.

“One reason for the increasing number of cranes in the Sulfur Springs Valley is the availability of prime wetland habitat that the birds require and that the Game and Fish Department has provided. Cranes that used to fly south to Mexico now stop in Arizona because of those habitats,” said Mike Rabe, a migratory bird biologist with the Arizona Game and Fish Department. 

The impressive increase in sandhill cranes means good news for wildlife enthusiasts. Seeing hundreds or even thousands of cranes take to the skies, feed in the fields or come in to land is a thrilling sight. Sandhill cranes are large birds; adults have about an 80-inch wingspan and can stand about 47 inches tall.

“The cranes will remain in southeastern Arizona until mid-late February, so there is still plenty of time to see and hear thousands of them,” said Joe Yarchin, watchable wildlife program manager for the department.

The Heritage Fund’s direct impact on wildlife conservation is compounded by the economic benefit that wildlife viewing has on communities across the state, especially in rural areas. The city of Willcox estimates that $60,000 to $80,000 comes into the local economy from hotel, gas, restaurant, and other related purchases just during Wings over Willcox, a four-day bird viewing event.

Two of the department’s wildlife areas – the Willcox Playa Wildlife Area near Willcox and the Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area near Douglas – offer visitors good viewing facilities, including bathrooms.

Sandhill crane viewing tips

  • The best viewing time is at first and last light when the cranes head out to feed, although it is possible to see them throughout the day during winter (until mid-February).
  • Listen for the birds: They are very vocal and can often be heard before they are seen.
  • Don’t forget your binoculars, spotting scopes, cameras and bird field guides.


Sonoran pronghorn return to King Valley
 
For the first time in over 100 years, Sonoran pronghorn are residing in King Valley on the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge in southwestern Arizona.

The Sonoran pronghorn have been protected under the Endangered Species Act since 1967, and the United States population was on the brink of extinction in 2002 due to habitat fragmentation, human disturbance, loss of forage and perennial rivers, and periods of extreme drought.
 
In early 2011 construction was approved for a 0.5 square mile captive breeding and release facility in King Valley, a location historically occupied by the species, to establish a population, expand its range, and bolster pronghorn numbers. The new breeding facility in King Valley was completed in December and the transfer of animals from a captive breeding facility on the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge took place on Dec. 15. 

Twelve pronghorn (two bucks and ten does) are currently residing in the pen and being monitored by the Arizona Game and Fish Department. By 2013, it is anticipated that the two-year-old offspring will be released from the facility into suitable adjacent habitat.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service would like to remind visitors to King Valley that the captive breeding pen and a 1/4 mile area surrounding the captive breeding facility are posted and closed to public access for the safety of the animals.

For more information, please contact the Arizona Game and Fish Department in Yuma at (928) 342-0091 or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Yuma at (928) 783-7861.


Bring the family fishing, see live wildlife at free event at Cortez Lake
 
Looking for a fun activity for the family? The Arizona Game and Fish Department is offering a FREE fishing event on Saturday, Jan. 14, at Cortez Lake, 3434 W. Dunlap Ave., Phoenix, from 8 a.m. to noon.

In addition to the fishing fun, the department’s Adobe Mountain Wildlife Center will have several species of live wildlife on display so you can view and learn more about the natural history of some of these amazing animals.

Attendees will be able to learn skills such as how to tie and cast a fishing line, the basics of fly tying, and view a demonstration of scaling and filleting. Kids can also have fun trying their skill at “backyard bass” casting.

No license is required for this event, and loaner fishing poles and bait will be available for use. Fishing and hunting licenses will be available for purchase at the event so you can continue your enjoyment of these outdoor activities for the remainder of the year.

If you have questions, please contact Tracy Mosier at (623) 236-7415 or by email at tmosier@azgfd.gov.


Arizona’s Official Fishing Guide is now at Game and Fish offices

If you’re looking for a great guidebook to help you find some of Arizona’s favorite fishing areas, Arizona’s Official Fishing Guide is now available at any of the seven Arizona Game and Fish Department offices in Phoenix, Mesa, Pinetop, Flagstaff, Kingman, Yuma or Tucson.

You can also purchase this new book online from Arizona Highways Magazine or at Costco stores.

The “official” fishing guide for Arizona was a joint project between Arizona Highways magazine and the Arizona Game and Fish Department. The book not only describes Arizona’s lakes and streams, the fish you can catch, and the facilities you can expect, but also provides fishing tips as well.

The book provides Internet contact information where possible, along with GPS coordinates for all the lakes and Internet addresses where you can obtain even more information.

Buy a copy today, and while you’re at it, be sure to purchase your 2012 fishing license so you can enjoy Arizona’s great fishing opportunities for the entire calendar year. Licenses can be purchased at Game and Fish offices, at more than 300 license dealers around the state, or online at www.azgfd.gov/eservices/licenses.shtml.


Public invited to “Meet the Commission” on Jan. 14

The public is encouraged to attend the annual “Meet the Commission” meeting starting at 2 p.m. this Saturday, Jan. 14, at the Carefree Resort and Conference Center, 37220 Mule Train Road, Carefree, Ariz.

The event gives the public a chance to meet the commission members and ask questions. It begins with the chairman’s welcome and commissioner introductions, followed by a presentation of the Year in Review video and then the question-and-answer and discussion session.

The Arizona Game and Fish Commission is composed of five members (serving staggered five-year terms) appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Arizona Senate. No more than one commissioner may be from any one county. No more than three may be from the same political party. The commission is the policy-setting board overseeing the Arizona Game and Fish Department. 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.

To learn more about the Game and Fish Commission, visit www.azgfd.gov/commission.


$1,250 reward offered in poaching of deer near Ft. Huachuca

The Arizona Game and Fish Department Operation Game Thief program is offering a $1,250 reward for information leading to an arrest in connection with the illegal shooting of a deer near Ft. Huachuca.

The deer was shot and beheaded, with the body left to waste, before 7:45 a.m. on Dec. 30, about one mile south of the Ft. Huachuca west gate.

Two suspects are wanted for questioning, both white males who were wearing camouflage. They were described as six feet tall with slim, athletic builds. One had a dark beard, and both carried scoped rifles.

"Poaching is not hunting. No true hunter would leave game meat in the field to waste," said Regional Supervisor Raul Vega of Game and Fish’s Tucson region.
  
Individuals with information about the case should contact Operation Game Thief at 1-800-352-0700, anonymously if need be, and reference OGT# 11-002123. Calls are taken 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Information may also be provided on-line at www.azgfd.gov/ogt_form.shtml.


Learn outdoor skills at BOW Deluxe program

If you’d like to learn outdoor skills in a scenic, comfortable, fun outdoor setting, make sure to sign up for the seventh annual Becoming an Outdoors Woman (BOW) “Deluxe” program set for Jan. 27-29.

The three-day workshop, sponsored by the Arizona Wildlife Federation in cooperation with the Arizona Game and Fish Department, will be held at Saguaro Lake Ranch located on the banks of the Salt River and surrounded by the spectacular Goldfield and Superstition mountains, northeast of the Phoenix metro area.

This venue is perfect for the woman who likes a little extra comfort with her outdoor experience. The ranch is a family owned bed and breakfast with lots of amenities. The workshop will include classes and outdoor activities, with a focus on those that can be enjoyed in the beautiful Sonoran desert.

Some of the classes and activities offered are boating sessions on Saguaro Lake, edible and medicinal desert plants, geocaching, outdoor photography, fly fishing, birding, Dutch oven cooking, still water paddling, predator calling, javelina hunting, desert survival, and archery. There will also be evening activities with campfires and entertainment.

The fee is $375 for the entire weekend. The program begins at 1 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 27 and ends at noon on Sunday, Jan. 29. The price includes all meals, lodging, instruction and use of equipment. An optional trail ride is also offered for an additional fee.

Space is limited to the first 40 participants, so register now. For more information, visit the Arizona Wildlife Federation website at www.azwildlife.org, or call (480) 644-0077.


Commission votes to oppose HB 2072 (sale of big game tags)

The Arizona Game and Fish Commission voted unanimously on Jan. 10 to oppose proposed Arizona House Bill 2072, a bill that would have reserved a large number of big game tags for a “qualified organization” to resell at auction or raffle.

As part of its 5-0 vote to oppose the bill, the commission also directed its representatives to “clearly inform the sponsor and supporters of this bill that our opposition is not just to the bill as written, but to the entire concept of removing or adding any big game tags from the pool of big game tags available for the general public and transferring them to any private organization.”

In discussion leading up to the vote, several commissioners expressed strong concerns over the bill.

For the full story and a link to the bill’s language, click here.


Rotenone Review Advisory Committee issues final report
Panel affirms that strict Game and Fish procedures assure that rotenone is a safe, effective fisheries management tool

A blue-ribbon committee that extensively studied the use of rotenone in Arizona has reaffirmed the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s belief that rotenone is an important fisheries management tool that can be used safely and effectively.

Rotenone is a piscicide (a pesticide used to kill undesired fish) that is used in limited applications to assist native fish and aquatic species recovery or aquatic invasive species control.

The Rotenone Review Advisory Committee’s final report and recommendations were accepted and approved on Jan. 9 by Game and Fish Director Larry Voyles. 

“The committee provided insightful analysis and a number of recommendations regarding the department’s piscicide application procedures,” said Voyles. “The results show once again that processes can always be improved by careful evaluation and input from experts in different fields. We’ve just made processes and procedures that were very good even better.”

Voyles added that in addition to the committee recommendations, and after taking into careful consideration the recommendations by the Arizona Farm Bureau, “I have directed this agency to meet the standards of the National Environmental Policy Act for all piscicide applications.”      

The use of rotenone as a piscicide prompted concerns last year by some constituents over perceptions of potential environmental or human health impacts from exposure. The concerns resulted in proposed state legislation—SB1294 and HB2114—that would have virtually eliminated the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s ability to use rotenone in the future. The legislation did not pass last session.

To thoroughly study the issue and address constituent concerns, Voyles temporarily halted the Game and Fish Department’s use of rotenone in Arizona and in June authorized the formation of the Rotenone Review Advisory Committee to analyze and make recommendations on the use of rotenone and other piscicides for Arizona fisheries and aquatic wildlife management. 

The committee and its composite subcommittees reviewed the best available scientific reports and research, gathered input from other experts, and provided technical expertise, opinion, and analysis regarding the use of rotenone and other piscicides, focusing on the following subject areas: (1) state/federal regulations, internal policy, public involvement, and best management practices; (2) human health and the environment; (3) alternate management strategies; and (4) recreational, economic and social impacts.

Participating members of the committee included representatives from the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, Arizona Department of Health Services, Arizona Department of Water Resources, Arizona Department of Agriculture, Arizona Game and Fish Department, Arizona House of Representatives, Arizona Senate, Arizona State University, Central Arizona Project, City of Phoenix, Salt River Project, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, Arizona Farm Bureau, Arizona Wildlife Federation, Trout Unlimited, R and R Partners, Shuler Law Firm, Town of Patagonia, and the Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution.

For the full story, including links to the Final Report and Recommendations and a list of Frequently Asked Questions, click here.


Senate confirms appointment of Kurt Davis to commission

The Arizona Senate on Jan. 11 confirmed Governor Jan Brewer’s appointment of Kurt Davis as the newest member of the Arizona Game and Fish Commission.

“Kurt possesses a wealth of expertise in government, communications and business,” said Gov. Brewer at the time she made the appointment on Dec. 8. “In addition to an eclectic professional background, Kurt is both well-liked and well-versed in issues affecting the Arizona outdoors. He will be a tremendous asset to the Arizona Game and Fish Commission.”

Davis replaces outgoing Commission Chair Robert Woodhouse on the commission.

For the full story, click here.


In remembrance of MCSO Deputy William “Bill” Coleman

The Arizona Game and Fish Department joins Arizonans in mourning the loss of Maricopa County Sheriff’s Deputy William "Bill" Coleman, who was killed in the line of duty while responding to a burglary in progress in Anthem on Sunday, Jan. 8, 2012.

“Bill was an asset to the law enforcement community and a good friend to many officers of the Arizona Game and Fish Department,” said Kevin Bergersen, law enforcement programs coordinator. “We could also count on Bill to assist and back up our wildlife managers when there was a need and any other help was far away.”

As part MCSO’s Mountain Patrol Division, Deputy Coleman worked closely with many Game and Fish officers throughout Maricopa County and on lake patrols over the years. He was a highly respected and excellent deputy and was always willing to lend a hand to anyone that needed assistance.

A 20-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Office, he is survived by his wife and four children.

The men and women of Arizona Game and Fish extend their deepest sympathies to Deputy Coleman’s family and friends for their loss and our community’s loss.

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