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Wildlife News - Jan. 25, 2013

Posted in: Wildlife News
Jan 25, 2013
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  • Deadline to apply for elk, pronghorn hunts is Feb. 12
  • Newly released Mexican wolf doing well in Arizona
  • Ladies: Learn clay target shooting at free introductory program near Tucson
  • Challenging elk hunts offered for fall hunting season near Flagstaff 
  • Inside-outside expos coming in February and March
  • Court decision will help U.S. Forest Service improve forest and habitat health  
  • Economic impact report shows increase in hunting and fishing participation, expenditures
  • New book brings wildlife management history to life
  • Hunting and fishing license holders can get a deal on NASCAR event 


Deadline to apply for elk, pronghorn hunts is Feb. 12

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Hunters who wish to apply for an elk or pronghorn antelope hunt permit-tag issued through the drawing process are reminded that applications must be received by the department by Tuesday, Feb. 12, by 7 p.m. (MST).

Applications can be submitted by using the online process (visit https://az.gov/app/huntdraw/home.xhtml), or paper applications can be mailed to the Arizona Game and Fish Department, Attn: Drawing Section, PO Box 74020, Phoenix, AZ 85087-1052, or hand-delivered to any of the seven Game and Fish offices located in Pinetop, Flagstaff, Kingman, Yuma, Tucson, Mesa and Phoenix.

The 2013 Pronghorn Antelope and Elk Hunt Draw Information Booklet is available at Game and Fish offices, at hunting license dealers across the state, or online at www.azgfd.gov/draw.

A 2013 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.

For more information, visit www.azgfd.gov/draw.


Newly released Mexican wolf doing well in Arizona

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The Mexican Wolf Reintroduction Project’s interagency field team successfully released a radio collared 4-year-old male Mexican wolf, designated M1133, last week in the Apache National Forest.

M1133 was brought by snowmobile in a crate to the release site and hard released (released directly from the transport crate upon arrival rather than being placed in a temporary holding pen in that area for a period of time to acclimate). The wolf was released adjacent to the Bluestem pack’s territory in hopes that it will replace the pack’s breeding (alpha) male that was illegally killed in 2012. Surveys were conducted prior to the release to ensure that the Bluestem pack alpha female had not paired with another male wolf. The release was timed to coincide with normal early-season breeding activities. The pack currently consists of four collared wolves, including the collared alpha female and three collared pups born in 2012. At least three uncollared wolves have been documented with the pack, likely a yearling and two more pups from the 2012 litter.

M1133, if paired with the genetics of the Bluestem pack, would produce offspring that are genetically different than existing wild wolves in the larger Mexican wolf population, which would help the population’s genetic health.

M1133 was born at the California Wolf Center in April 2008 and was transferred to the Sevilleta Wolf Management Facility in December 2008 along with its parents and littermate. Prior to being released, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service conducted taste aversion conditioning on the wolf while it was at the facility. Taste aversion conditioning is used to induce an illness associated with the consumption of cattle.

 The release of M1133 is considered an initial release rather than a translocation because the animal was born and raised in captivity. A translocation, such as the two conducted in January of 2011, is when a wolf that was born in the wild, but brought into captivity for some reason, is then released back into the wild. The field team closely manages all initially-released wolves to reduce the potential of nuisance-related behaviors and livestock depredations once they are in the wild. Past experience has shown that initially-released wolves sometimes require intensive management to assist them in learning to avoid situations that may lead to conflict with human activity or with livestock that also utilize the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests.  

All initial wolf releases occur in Arizona in the primary recovery zone of the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area in compliance with the existing federal 10(j) rule covering the reintroduction project. The last initial release of wolves occurred in 2008.


Ladies: Learn clay target shooting at free introductory program near Tucson

Have you ever wanted to learn the fun and excitement of clay target shooting but didn’t know where to start? Clay target shooting is one of the nation’s fastest-growing recreational sports.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department is offering free introductory women’s programs on Saturday, Feb. 2 and Saturday, March 2 at the Three Points Public Shooting Range, located on U.S. Route 86 just west of Robles Junction (about 25 miles southwest of Tucson). The program starts at 10 a.m. and will last about two hours.

The program will provide everything you need, including a loaner shotgun during the event, ammunition, targets, eye and ear protection, and expert instruction in a safe, friendly, non-intimidating environment. The program is based on the tremendously successful Desert Roses women’s shotgun shooting program held at the Ben Avery Clay Target Center in Phoenix.

Best of all, there is no charge. However, pre-registration is required, as class size is limited.

To register, contact Mike Rogers at the Ben Avery Clay Target Center at desertroses@azgfd.gov or (602) 909-7817. Bring a friend! 

These events are being conducted in partnership with the Tucson Rifle Club, Pinnacle Shooting Sports, and Confident Shotgunning.


Challenging elk hunts offered for fall hunting season near Flagstaff

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Hunters who are looking for a physically challenging hunt in an area with limited vehicular access should consider applying for tags for the “Peaks Hunt Area” in Game Management Unit 7 East, just north of Flagstaff.

For the second year in a row, the Arizona Game and Fish Commission has approved any-elk and antlerless elk tags in the Peaks Hunt Area in Unit 7 East to promote successful aspen regeneration. Approximately 90 percent of all aspen found on the Coconino National Forest are found in this limited hunt area. Recent wildfires have killed some of the adult aspen trees but have also stimulated extensive sprouting of young aspen that elk prefer to eat, especially during the fall. Wildlife biologists believe that by focusing elk management in this area now, chances will increase for robust aspen regeneration. 

“We are offering these permits in coordination with the Coconino National Forest as another habitat management tool for aspen regeneration on the Peaks,” says Carl Lutch, wildlife program manager for the Flagstaff regional office. “There are other factors impacting aspen trees, but reducing the number of elk that utilize aspen is one piece of the puzzle in helping aspen recover on the Coconino National Forest.”

For more than a decade, wildlife biologists and land managers have been working to keep aspen stands healthy on the San Francisco Peaks. The U.S. Forest Service has invested more than $600,000 in recent years to promote aspen regeneration in the area through a variety of methods. Monitoring indicates that without intervention, many of the aspen in the area could be lost. In addition to browsing by wildlife and livestock, some of the factors that affect aspen health include lack of fire, disease, drought, insects, late frosts, and crowding by other species of trees like conifers. While aspen are short-lived trees that are susceptible to many disturbances, their natural defense is to sprout vigorously from the roots when adult trees die. If sprouts are killed several years in a row, the root system and the trees will eventually die.

Game and Fish and the Forest Service want hunters who put in for this area to know that the hunts are primarily wilderness hunts that are more physically challenging than other hunt areas. These hunts are tailor-made for hunters who want to get away from roads and hunt on foot or horseback. An added benefit to hunters is that the Peaks Hunts are offered at a time of year when elk are rutting and the aspen are in full fall splendor. The unit includes both the San Francisco Peaks and the very scenic Hart Prairie.

The Flagstaff Ranger District on the Coconino National Forest is anxious to help motivated hunters who choose this hunt unit. Limited areas of the unit are closed to horseback access to protect Flagstaff’s water supply in the inner basin. Special regulations also apply in the Kachina Peaks wilderness, but with advance planning this unit provides outstanding opportunities to hunt elk in a remote setting. The Forest Service will have a special link on their website that will provide Peaks Unit hunters with updated information and tips on access into prime hunting locations.

“This hunt unit offers the type of setting you would normally expect somewhere like Colorado or Montana, so the tactics need to be a little different,” says U.S. Forest Service District Ranger Mike Elson. “In addition to providing a unique experience in Arizona, this hunt is also a critical tool in helping us manage for healthy aspen and healthy elk habitat.”

The 2013 Pronghorn and Elk hunt regulation booklet is available now. The deadline to apply for hunts is by 7p.m. on Tuesday, Feb.12.

To view the hunting regulations and apply for fall hunts on line, go to www.azgfd.gov/draw.
For more information about the Coconino National Forest visit www.fs.usda.gov/coconino.


Inside-outside expos coming in February and March

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With the New Year well underway, be sure to mark your calendars for Arizona’s largest outdoor expos – one inside and the other outside.

The International Sportsmen’s Exposition (ISE) is Feb. 21-24 at the University of Phoenix Stadium, and the Arizona Game and Fish Department Outdoor Expo is March 23-24 at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility.

ISE is a superb expo with exciting exhibitors from around the globe gathered indoors under the huge domed stadium in Glendale. Game and Fish will again have a significant presence at the show. Department personnel are teaming up with ISE to operate the kids fishing pond, and the department will conduct its annual assets sale that includes everything from huge antlers and mounts to supple soft rabbit skins. The Adobe Mountain Wildlife Center will have live wildlife on display, and the department’s Operation Game Thief and OHV programs will bring their educational trailers and program information.

Other attractions at ISE will include a 3D pop-up archery range and contest presented by Eastman’s Bowhunting Journal, a giant casting pond, seminars on hunting, fishing and off-roading at the Adventure Theater, the RMEF great elk display, Eastman’s trophy deer display, and the DockDogs pool and national contest. New this year will be the Valleywide Scout-O-Rama conducted by the Boy Scouts of America, Grand Canyon Council, outside of the stadium on Saturday, Feb. 23.

For more information, including hours and admission fees, visit http://www.sportsexpos.com.

Next up in March is the Arizona Game and Fish Outdoor Expo, a free hands-on event outside where the whole family can experience a wide range of thrilling outdoor activities sprawled across the huge Ben Avery Shooting Facility in Phoenix.

Visitors will have a chance to experience a wide range of activities, including live wildlife exhibits, archery, fishing at the huge kids’ fishing tanks, trying out shooting sports, navigating a field course, seeing off-highway vehicle exhibitions, attending presentations on wildlife and outdoor recreation topics, and visiting with more than 150 exhibitors.

Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, March 23, and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, March 24. The Ben Avery Shooting Facility is located on Carefree Highway just west of I-17. For more information, visit www.azgfd.gov/expo


Court decision will help U.S. Forest Service improve forest and habitat health 
News release from the Kaibab National Forest, Jan. 23, 2013

A judge in the U.S. District Court in Phoenix ruled in favor of the Jacob-Ryan Vegetation Management Project that was put forth by the Kaibab National Forest.

The U.S. Forest Service won summary judgment in a lawsuit filed by the Center for Biological Diversity and the Sierra Club, which sought to halt the project over concerns for the northern goshawk.

The Town of Fredonia, Ariz., and Kane County, Utah, also intervened on behalf of the U.S. Forest Service.

The Jacob-Ryan project calls for mechanical thinning and prescribed burning treatments on about 25,000 acres of predominantly ponderosa pine forest surrounding Jacob Lake, Ariz.

The Kaibab National Forest maintains the project will improve goshawk habitat by thinning an overstocked forest and restoring fire to a fire-evolved ecosystem. Planners also maintain that thinning and burning treatments will create a more resilient ecosystem, while reducing the threats of large-scale wildfire, insects, and disease.

The northern goshawk is a predatory raptor that is considered a sensitive species by the Forest Service.

“Thanks to the hard work and perseverance of our employees, and support from our local communities, we can move forward to help protect the habitat and the forest from high intensity wildfire,” said North Kaibab District Ranger Randall Walker.

First proposed in 1998, the Jacob-Ryan project has been through multiple revisions due to controversy over the size of trees to be thinned. The current project imposes no size restrictions, though planners estimate that less than two percent of the trees removed could be greater than 16 inches in diameter.

Forest managers plan to begin project implementation this year and expect work to continue for five to seven years.

To learn more about the Jacob-Ryan project, visit the Kaibab National Forest website at www.fs.usda.gov/kaibab and click on the Jacob-Ryan “Spotlight” at the bottom of the page.


Economic impact report shows increase in hunting and fishing participation, expenditures
News release from National Shooting Sports Foundation, Jan. 17, 2012

The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) and the Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation (CSF) recently released two new reports that document the importance of sportsmen's activities in America.

NSSF's “Hunting in America: An Economic Force for Conservation” and CSF's “America's Sporting Heritage, Fueling the American Economy” provide detailed information about participation and expenditures by American sportsmen and women. The reports were released to the country's top outdoor writers and industry professionals during the Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show (SHOT Show) in Las Vegas.

"Many people may not fully comprehend how important hunting and fishing are to the fabric of this country. Yet there are more people who hunt or fish than go bowling, and their spending would land them at #24 on the Fortune 500 list," commented Jeff Crane, president of the Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation. "CSF has put together this report, utilizing data from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the American Sportfishing Association, and the National Marine Manufacturers Association, in order to provide these real-world comparisons to what many consider more 'mainstream' industries and activities."

The NSSF report, part of the foundation for CSF's information, provides a detailed look at hunters and the trends in participation and spending. Information on 40-plus categories of U.S. hunting-related expenditures, which grew 55 percent, are outlined in NSSF's report as well as state-by-state statistics for number of hunters, retail sales, taxes and jobs.

The CSF report spotlights some of the most compelling data for hunters and anglers. For example, the 15.5 million hunters age 6 and up could fill every NASCAR track, NFL stadium, NBA arena, MLB ballpark and NHL rink in the country more than twice (15.5 million vs. 7.2 million combined capacity). In addition, anglers spent $47.7 billion in 2011, which is more than the revenues for Lockheed Martin that year ($46.9 billion). Similar comparisons for many other participation and spending statistics are found throughout the CSF report.

The fishing industry also developed a more detailed analysis of anglers' impacts on the nation's economy and fisheries conservation that was released earlier this month. The American Sportfishing Association's (ASA) “Sportfishing in America: An Economic Force for Conservation” reports that the number of anglers increased 11 percent since 2006 while fishing tackle sales grew more than 16 percent. When expenditures are multiplied by the nation's 60 million anglers, their dollars have a significant impact on our nation's economy.

A number of reports strongly indicate that American families identify fishing as one of the best ways to spend quality time together. According to the National Sporting Goods Association, fishing as a leisure-time activity ranks higher than playing basketball or softball, skateboarding, jogging or hiking.

A new component of the CSF report this year is the inclusion of details on the recreational boating industry. Research from the National Marine Manufacturers Association shows that more than one million boats changed hands in 2011 with sales of all watercraft (including sail boats, personal water craft, etc.), totaling $15 billion. In addition, 83 million adults in the U.S. participated in recreational boating that year.

Beyond the impact to businesses and local economies, sportsmen and women are the leaders in protecting fish and wildlife and their habitats. When you combine license and stamp fees, motorboat fuels, excise taxes on hunting and fishing equipment and membership contributions to conservation organizations, hunters and anglers directed $3 billion towards on-the-ground conservation and restoration efforts in 2011 - that is over $95 every second. This does not include their own habitat acquisition and restoration work for lands owned or leased for the purpose of hunting and fishing, which would add another $11 billion to the mix.


New book brings wildlife management history to life

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When Arizona became a state in 1912, many wildlife species were in dire straits. Fifty years later, most wildlife species, especially game animals, were abundant beyond the hopes of even the most enthusiastic conservationist.

A newly published book, “Bringing Back the Game: Arizona Wildlife Management, 1912–1962,” examines wildlife management in Arizona during those formative years as sportsmen, and later professional game wardens and biologists, worked to return game populations to abundance and to provide more fishing opportunities for anglers. This comprehensive 490-page book has 35 chapters in five sections, and includes more than 150 historical photographs.

Published by the Arizona Game and Fish Department, this is the third in a series of wildlife histories that began with “Man and Wildlife in Arizona: The American Exploration Period, 1824–1865,” and continued with “Arizona Wildlife: The Territorial Years, 1863–1912.” The Arizona Wildlife History Series now covers almost 140 years of efforts to conserve, use and manage wildlife in the Grand Canyon State — a significant achievement.

Author David E. Brown is a retired biologist and adjunct professor at Arizona State University and the University of Arizona. He worked for the Arizona Game and Fish Department from 1961 to 1988.

“Bringing Back the Game” is available for $19.95. It and the other books in the Arizona Wildlife History Series are available for sale at all Arizona Game and Fish offices, or by downloading and printing the publications order form at www.azgfd.gov/publications.


Hunting and fishing license holders can get a deal on NASCAR event 

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What do NASCAR and the Arizona Game and Fish Department have in common? We both offer exciting and enjoyable family entertainment.

Do you have an Arizona hunting or fishing license? If so, here’s a deal you won’t want to miss: Phoenix International Raceway (PIR) is offering special discounted ticket prices to Arizona hunting and fishing license holders for the upcoming “SUBWAY fresh fit 500” on March 3, 2013.

You won't want to miss Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart and defending Sprint Cup Series Champion Brad Keselowski battle the rest of the field for the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup.

Tickets are likely to sell out in advance of the race, so order soon. This offer expires Feb. 28, 2013 and is valid only while supplies last.

To order your discounted tickets (20 percent discount for Arizona hunting and fishing license holders for select areas), visit www.phoenixraceway.com/azgfd and follow the instructions. For discounted pre-race pit passes and accessible seating options, please contact Chris Reaves at PIR at (623) 463-5635.

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