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Wildlife News - March 9, 2012

Posted in: Wildlife News
Mar 9, 2012
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  • Arizonans can help wildlife at tax time
  • Get a rebate for buying a fishing license
  • Probable ocelot sighting in Arizona on Feb. 5
  • Game and Fish posts annual report
  • Enjoy the outdoors this weekend at the Tres Rios Nature & Earth Festival
  • Online draw applicants should ensure credit card information is up to date
  • Native wildlife are not pets: Laws are in place for good reasons
  • Bring your family and friends to the Game and Fish Outdoor Expo


Arizonans can help wildlife at tax time
Taxpayers can help conserve bald eagles, wolves, and tortoises, among others

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Did you know that your state taxes do not support the conservation of Arizona’s wildlife, but your donations do? Taxpayers can help the state’s wildlife at tax time by “making a mark” on their state income tax form.

The Arizona Wildlife Fund is a voluntary program that allows Arizona taxpayers to make a donation to help imperiled and endangered wildlife, including majestic bald eagles, black-footed ferrets, California condors, Apache trout, Mexican wolves and desert tortoises, among other nongame species.

“Since Game and Fish does not receive any general fund dollars, the Arizona Wildlife Fund provides important support for managing and conserving some of the state’s most iconic native species,” says Eric Gardner, nongame branch chief for the Arizona Game and Fish Department. “The fund has a tremendous impact on conserving one of Arizona’s greatest natural treasures – its wildlife -- which provide a variety of low-cost recreational opportunities for residents to enjoy and real economic benefits to local communities.”

Arizona is one of 41 states that allow taxpayers to make a contribution to worthwhile causes. Since Arizona started the program more than 25 years ago, taxpayers have donated more than $5 million to the conservation of nongame animals. Nongame are wildlife species that are neither hunted nor fished in a traditional sense.

In 2011, the average donation was nearly $22.

The Arizona Wildlife Fund box can be found on line “44” of the state’s long income tax form, or line “40” of the short tax form. 

For more information on the Arizona Wildlife Fund, visit www.azgfd.gov/makeamark. To learn more about the conservation and reintroduction efforts the fund supports, visit http://www.azgfd.gov/w_c/nongame_species.shtmle_species.



Imagine getting a rebate for buying a fishing license

Imagine getting a rebate for fishing?

Well, guess what? You can now get a rebate for having or buying a 2012 Arizona Fishing License, thanks to a promotion by Shakespeare.

Here’s the deal. Buy any two Shakespeare products (such as the Ugly Stick) that total $40 and a 2012 Arizona Fishing License (or show proof that you have one), submit the documentation by mail, and get $10 back by mail.

It’s as simple as all that. For more information visit the Recreation and Boating and Fishing Foundation at www.rbff.org.

“We are already stocking trout weeks early in the high country lakes, plus there are plenty of larger holdover trout from last year, the largemouth bass are in the spawn, and we just stocked a bonus 3,000 rainbows into the Lower Salt River. This is shaping up to be a super fishing year. Don’t miss out,” said Rory Aikens, the fishing report editor for the Arizona Game and Fish Department.


Probable ocelot sighting in Arizona on Feb. 5

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TUCSON, Ariz. – The Arizona Game and Fish Department announced today a highly probable, but not verifiable, sighting of a rare ocelot Feb. 5 in Arizona.

The sighting is documented in trail camera photos provided to the department by a third party and posted on the Internet site, www.coueswhitetail.com. Analysis indicates that the ocelot is the same animal observed in February 2011 by Game and Fish officers and photographed by a hunter’s trail camera in May 2011 in the Huachuca Mountains. The new photos show the ocelot on what appears to be a deer kill. The trail camera is owned by a hunter who wishes to remain anonymous and has provided no additional details.  At this time, the lack of location information will preclude it from being entered as a confirmed record in our Heritage Data Management System (HDMS) which tracks special status species records and is used to inform project planning and evaluation.

Nongame Branch Chief Eric Gardner said “This sighting will be a Class I-10 report, which means that visual or physical evidence is provided and confirmed. We are confident it is an ocelot and have no reason to believe it was not photographed in Arizona, but without a more definite location it simply cannot be entered into our system in a meaningful way.” 

Ocelots are small to medium-sized spotted cats with a long tail. These cats have been listed as endangered since 1982 under the federal Endangered Species Act. Since being listed, ocelots have only rarely been seen in Arizona. Only one other ocelot, an animal run over near Globe in April 2010, has been confirmed in Arizona since the mid-1960s. One other ocelot was reportedly captured on film in November of 2009; however, in a similar situation, the department has not been given the specific location of the photo and it has not been possible to fully verify the animal’s location based on that photo. The record is therefore not included in our state’s HDMS. 

While the department agrees that both sets of photos from these sightings are of ocelots, without location and additional information, such as tracks, scat or hair analysis, recovered from the scene, they remain classified as “probable but not verifiable.”  It is the department’s hope that additional information from either or both of these sightings would be brought forward to facilitate analysis and classification so that they could be included as an official record in the HDMS.

Ocelots tend to be smaller in size in the more northerly portions of their habitat range than those individuals in the central or southern habitat areas. The upper body coloring is highly variable, ranging from grayish to cinnamon or tawny to reddish brown. Dark markings form chainlike streaks down the sides of the ocelot’s body. They have a fairly long tail, as long as the body, and short rounded ears.

The present range for ocelots is in the eastern and western lowlands of Mexico, from southern Mexico through Central America and in the lowland areas of Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Brazil. On the fringes of their range, they occupy a very limited region in both the United States (a remnant population exists in southern Texas) and Argentina. Other animals such as bobcats and young mountain lions are sometimes misidentified as ocelots, which is why verification is so very important.

Ocelots are protected by the Endangered Species Act and should be left alone. If anyone encounters a cat believed to be an ocelot, the Game and Fish Department requests that photos along with observation information be reported immediately to the department. A phone number for reporting sightings is 1-800-352-0700.

For more information on ocelots, visit the department’s website at www.azgfd.gov/ocelot


Game and Fish posts annual report

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The Arizona Game and Fish Department has posted its annual report at http://www.azgfd.gov/inside_azgfd/annual_report.shtml.

The report provides an overview of accomplishments and activities during the 2011 calendar year and includes financial information from fiscal year 2010-11.

 

In accordance with Arizona Revised Statutes, Section 41-4153, Game and Fish posts its annual reports on its website. We invite you to review this year’s report.


Enjoy the outdoors this weekend at the Tres Rios Nature & Earth Festival

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The popular Tres Rios Nature and Earth Festival returns to Estrella Mountain Regional Park this Saturday and Sunday, March 10-11.

The family-friendly festival focuses on the rich diversity of wildlife, habitat, history and culture of the Gila River area in the West Valley. Attendees will be able to see live wildlife up close, go canoeing, try archery, fish, view local birds, hike, and learn about recycling and green living.

The festival will include a special area for children with hands-on activities centered around nature and the outdoors. There will also be a “recycling fashion show,” live entertainment, and numerous other features.

Hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

Estrella Mountain Regional Park is located at 14805 W. Vineyard, Goodyear, Ariz., 5.5 miles south of Interstate 10 off of Estrella Parkway. Signs will provide visitors with further directions. Admission to the festival is free, although a $3 per vehicle park entrance fee will be charged by the park. Some children’s rides will also require a small fee.

For more information, visit www.tresriosnaturefestival.com or call the Southwest Valley Chamber of Commerce at (623) 932-2260.


Online draw applicants should ensure credit card information is up to date

Were you one of the many hunters who used the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s online application service for the 2012 Pronghorn Antelope and Elk Draw? Has your credit or debit card information recently changed?

If the answer to both of those questions is yes, you will want to make sure that the credit or debit card you used to apply for the draw is still valid, and if not, then update your information. Be advised that if your card is invalid at the time the random drawing is run, it will result in rejection of your application (regardless of posted results).

You can make sure your credit/debit card payment information is up to date simply by logging on to https://az.gov/app/huntdraw/home.xhtml, selecting the “Update My Payment Information” button at the bottom of the page, and following the prompts. 

If you have questions or need assistance, please contact the draw section by calling (602) 942-3000, then select option 2, then option 3. 

An announcement will be posted on the department’s website at www.azgfd.gov and sent out via e-news when draw results are available. Hunt permit-tags are anticipated to be mailed out by April 20, 2012.


Native wildlife are not pets: Laws are in place for good reasons

There’s no denying the fact that some wildlife might appear to make for a nice pet, especially the youngsters one might believe can be domesticated. But Arizona Game and Fish officials advise otherwise.

“There’s no such thing,” said Zen Mocarski, public information officer for the Game and Fish Region 3 office in Kingman. “Yes, wild animals may sometimes appear comfortable around people and some have been taught tricks, but they are never domesticated.”

In a recent case, a Bullhead City man cited for possession of restricted live wildlife led to a barrage of e-mails, phone calls, and website postings. Many of the comments suggested the individual be allowed to keep his “pet” raccoon.

“I suppose the first question I’d have to ask would be: ‘where do you then draw the line?” Mocarski stated. “Next case will be a person with a bobcat or mountain lion kitten, then a bear cub, or coyote pups. They are native wildlife, not pets, and should never be treated as such.”

Mocarski said there are a number of reasons people should not possess live wildlife.

“I know people don’t want to simply hear ‘it’s against the law,’” Mocarski said. “They want a better understanding of why it is not legal.

 “There isn’t just one reason. Unpredictable behavior can be an issue with wildlife, especially after reaching sexual maturity. Instinct is difficult to overcome. The most famous case, of course, would be Roy Horn, who was attacked by a tiger he had worked with for years in Las Vegas. Of course there was the case of the chimpanzee that attacked a woman in Connecticut.

“You can go weeks, months, or years without an incident. You just don’t know when or if a wild animal’s natural instinct will surface.”

As for disease, there’s no research on whether vaccines used for domestic animals would be effective for wildlife, whether it be a coyote, bobcat, or raccoon.

“Rabies is nearly 100 percent fatal and a vaccine that works on a domestic dog may not work on a coyote. And let’s not forget it isn’t just how an animal impacts the one individual, but the surrounding neighbors and pets.”

Mocarski added that animals people try to domesticate often end up in zoos because as an animal gets older it becomes clear its needs can’t be met.

However, the biggest challenge to holding wildlife may be meeting an animal’s dietary needs, which can be varied.

“There are elk in the Hualapai Mountains that will walk toward you if you shake a bag of chips,” he said. “Through years of being fed by people, the elk have been conditioned to eat such things. My question is simple: if chips aren’t particularly healthy for humans, what would make people think it is a good dietary choice for elk?”

In 1995 13 deer were killed at the Grand Canyon after becoming hooked on snack food and candy. They lost their natural ability to digest vegetation. Their muscles atrophied and they were starving to death.

“As for the recent raccoon,” Mocarski said, “it was low on calcium and phosphorous, mildly anemic, and was slightly underweight. Dog food and sweet treats should not be a staple of a raccoon’s diet.”

Mocarski said the raccoon was tested at the Adobe Mountain Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Phoenix, where it has been given a more natural diet of various fruits, raw meat, and fish.

“Apparently it has already developed a taste for bluegill,” Mocarski said. “The raccoon will likely reach its natural weight as it receives a more balanced diet.”

Mocarski – who has seen the thin, malnourished elk in the Hualapais – remains adamant the laws exist not only for public safety, but for the health of Arizona’s wildlife.

“We have desert tortoises brought to our office every year that have either lumpy or soft shells,” he said. “It comes down to understanding the needs of wildlife. Lumpy shells are often the result of a high-protein diet and a soft shell can result from a lack of ultra-violet light.”

Game and Fish would prefer the public comply with the law so the department is not placed into a position of seizing an animal.

“But, we’ll continue to do so for the safety of the public and the health of the animal,” Mocarski said. “Seasoned biologists with years of experience have a unique understanding of wildlife. The basic message is simple: keep wildlife wild.”


Bring your family and friends to the Game and Fish Outdoor Expo

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Whether you’re a seasoned outdoors enthusiast or a novice wanting to learn, be sure to come on out to the Arizona Game and Fish Department Outdoor Expo on Saturday, March 31 and Sunday, April 1.

Arizona’s largest hands-on outdoor expo is held at the world-renowned Ben Avery Shooting Facility in north Phoenix and offers loads of fun activities, exhibits and educational presentations for the entire family

Adults and kids will get a chance to see live wildlife, including hawks, owls, snakes, small mammals, and more.

Want to learn target archery? You can learn through organized classes, or you can walk a desert course with 3D targets and instruction.

Kids will get a thrill from catch-and-release fishing at two huge family fishing tanks. Adults can pick up fishing tips from experts at the casting tank.

Target shooters can try out firearms from different manufacturers on the range, or learn specialty shooting disciplines (such as cowboy action, practical pistol, trap/skeet and more) from different shooting organizations.

Boating enthusiasts can see a variety of boats on display from different dealers and can learn about safe, responsible watercraft use. Off-road vehicle enthusiasts can see exciting demos while picking up tips about safe, responsible riding.

There’s lots more to do at the Expo: see camping demos, watch thrilling cowboy mounted shooting competitions, hike a nature/hunter education field course, attend wildlife presentations, or visit with more than 150 exhibitors, including outdoor organizations, government agencies, and vendors of outdoor products and services.

Best of all, admission and parking are free! You might want to bring a little cash to purchase food and beverages from the variety of concessionaires who will be on the Expo grounds. For those wanting to try out firearms on the range, there is a nominal fee for ammunition at some of the shooting venues.

Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, March 31, and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, April 1.

Gold sponsors of the Arizona Game and Fish Department Outdoor Expo are Cabela’s and Airpark Dodge/Ram/Chrysler/Jeep.

The Ben Avery Shooting Facility is located at 4044 W. Black Canyon Blvd. in Phoenix (located on Carefree Highway, about 1/2 mile west of I-17 – just follow the signs).

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

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