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Wildlife News - Oct. 5, 2012

Posted in: Wildlife News
Oct 5, 2012
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  • Deadline to apply for spring hunts is Oct. 9
  • Arizona’s bald eagles continue to set records in 2012
  • Golden alga fish kills confirmed at Roosevelt Lake
  • AZGFD analyzing new photo of possible endangered cat sighted southeast of Tucson
  • Deer and elk hunters can assist in monitoring for CWD
  • Game and Fish moves home-invading bear cub to Heritage Park Zoo 
  • Trout stockings to begin at Green Valley Lakes in Payson Oct. 15
  • Deadline to apply for 2013 commission appointment is Oct. 12
  • Public comment invited on Arizona Game and Fish proposed strategic plan
  • Long-time Fishing Report editor retires


Deadline to apply for spring hunts is Oct. 9

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The Arizona Game and Fish Department reminds hunters that Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012, is the deadline to apply for Arizona’s spring 2013 hunt permit-tags issued through the drawing process for turkey, javelina, buffalo and bear. Applications must be received by the department no later than 7 p.m. Arizona time (MST).

Applications can be submitted through the online service at https://phx.az.gov/app/huntdraw/home.xhtml, or paper applications can be hand delivered to department offices. A list of office addresses is at www.azgfd.gov/offices.

Applicants who typically mail in a paper application but have not yet done so are advised at this point to either use the online service or hand deliver their application. Postmarks don’t count.

Online application payments can be charged to VISA or MasterCard. Other credit cards such as American Express and Discovery Card are not accepted. The cost of the hunt permit-tag will not be charged to the credit card unless the applicant is drawn. However, online applicants will be charged a non-refundable application fee of $7.50. If using a paper application, the non-refundable application fee of $7.50 will also be charged as part of the tag fee. 

The online service works with most browsers, including Microsoft Internet Explorer, Firefox, Google Chrome and Safari. Safari users should upgrade to the latest version of the OS and Safari browser because some problems have been reported with older versions of Safari. The online application service does not work with iPad, iPhone, Smartphones, or other mobile devices.

Online applicants are advised to apply early and not wait until the last minute, in case any technical issues arise on deadline day.

If you plan to hand deliver a paper application, keep in mind that department offices are closed on Monday, Oct. 8, in observance of the Columbus Day holiday. Hand-delivered applications will be accepted at department office locations on Tuesday, Oct. 9 until 7 p.m. (MST), but the business offices (front counters) will close at 5 p.m.

A 2013 hunting license is required to apply in the draw. Licenses may be purchased online at www.azgfd.gov/eservices/licenses.shtml, or at any Game and Fish office, license dealer, or through the draw application process. People purchasing their license online must have a working printer handy to print the license out at the time of purchase. The department does not mail out licenses that are purchased online. 

Some of the spring hunts are not limited to tags issued through the draw process. For those hunts, a nonpermit-tag may be purchased over-the-counter at Game and Fish offices or at license dealers. Nonpermit-tag hunts are area specific and include some archery-only spring turkey, juniors-only shotgun spring turkey, archery-only spring javelina, general javelina, general spring bear, and archery-only spring bear hunts.

One significant change for 2013 is that the statewide bag limit for javelina has been raised to two javelina per calendar year, with no more than one taken per open area as defined in each hunt number. The bag limit may be filled in any combination of permit-tags (draw tag or first-come leftover draw tag as long as they have differing hunt numbers) or nonpermit-tags (over-the-counter tag). No more than one permit-tag shall be issued per hunter through the initial draw (this means each applicant can submit only one application for javelina through the draw). Hunters can refer to Commission Order 6 (spring javelina) on pages 15-19 of the hunt draw information booklet.

Juniors should note that due to a rule change that takes effect Jan. 1, 2013, individuals after that date will be eligible to participate in a “Juniors-Only” designated hunt up to their 18th birthday (the rule currently limits the eligibility of an individual to participate up to and throughout the calendar year of their 17th birthday). When the rule takes effect, a youth hunter whose 18th birthday occurs during a “Juniors-Only” designated hunt (for which the hunter has a valid permit or tag), may continue to participate for the duration of that “Juniors-Only” designated hunt. Those between the ages of 10 and 13 must have satisfactorily completed a hunter education course that is approved by the Director as per ARS 17-335(C). This change is not reflected in the printed 2013 Spring Turkey, Javelina, Buffalo and Bear Hunt Draw Information booklet, but it has been included in the amended booklet posted online at www.azgfd.gov/eservices/draw.shtml

A full listing of all the spring hunts is available in the 2013 Arizona Spring Turkey, Javelina, Buffalo and Bear Hunt Draw Information booklet available at department offices, hunting license dealers, and online.


Arizona’s bald eagles continue to set records in 2012

With the last bald eagle nestling out of the nest, Arizona’s bald eagle population continues to set productivity records. In 2012, by the end of the breeding season, bald eagles set two new records for the number of breeding areas identified and the number of eggs laid.  

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In Arizona, at least 80 bald eagle eggs were laid and a record 66 breeding areas were identified, including four new breeding areas. For only the third time, the number of nestlings that fledged exceeded 50, with 52 young birds making it to the important milestone of their first flight. The species’ productivity records year after year indicate that bald eagles continue to flourish in the state. Bald eagles in Arizona were removed from the federal Endangered Species Act in 2011.

“Seeing the continual year-after-year growth of the bald eagle breeding population in Arizona is extremely gratifying and a success story for all of the partners involved in intensely managing the species,” said Kenneth Jacobson, Arizona Game and Fish Department bald eagle management coordinator. “The Southwestern Bald Eagle Management Committee’s years of cooperative conservation efforts, including extensive monitoring by the Bald Eagle Nestwatch Program, continue to pay off and help this population grow.”

Continued support from the committee, State Wildlife Grants and the Heritage Fund, generated from lottery ticket sales, will help ensure that Arizona’s bald eagles continue breaking records.

Bald eagle management falls under the careful watch of the Arizona Game and Fish Department and a coalition of 25 other partners – through the Southwestern Bald Eagle Management Committee -- including government agencies, private organizations and Native American tribes. 

The breeding season for bald eagles in Arizona typically runs from December through June, although a few bald eagle pairs at higher elevations nest later than those in the rest of the state.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department, a leading partner in recovery efforts for the species, attributes the success to cooperative on-the-ground management, including monitoring and survey flights; seasonal closures of critical breeding habitat during the breeding season; eagle rescue efforts; contaminants analysis and a nestwatch program to protect breeding activities.

For more information on bald eagles in Arizona, visit www.azgfd.gov/baldeagle or www.swbemc.org.


Golden alga fish kills confirmed at Roosevelt Lake

Fish kills from golden alga have been confirmed at Roosevelt Lake and biologists are continuing to monitor the situation, advised Arizona Game and Fish Department officials.

“Golden alga can produce a toxin that affects gill breathing organisms,” said Marc Dahlberg, acting Fisheries Branch chief. “This toxin is not known to be a health threat to humans.”

This most recent fish kill follows on the heels of a golden alga caused fish kill on approximately 20 miles of the Salt River just upstream from Roosevelt Lake during July.

The current fish die off at Roosevelt appears to be lake wide, affecting primarily gizzard shad, a species that is sensitive to the golden alga toxin.  Approximately 30 to 40 large (13- to 15-inch) dead gizzard shad in various stages of decay can be found throughout the lake on a regular basis.

“We suspect that threadfin shad, a fish that is also very sensitive to golden alga toxin, are also being impacted,” Dahlberg said. “However, because threadfin are so much smaller they are probably being rapidly consumed by birds and are not as readily observed as the larger bodied gizzard shad.”
 
Although golden alga fish kills have occurred in a number of states, scientists are still not sure what environmental conditions actually result in golden alga producing toxins.

Game and Fish biologists said that if environmental conditions do not improve there is a possibility that the golden alga kills could extend to other fish species on Roosevelt and possibly downstream to other lakes as well.


AZGFD analyzing new photo of possible endangered cat sighted southeast of Tucson

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The Arizona Game and Fish Department is currently analyzing a recent trail camera photo of either a jaguar or an ocelot sighted southeast of Tucson.

The photo includes only the tail and a small portion of a hind quarter of the animal, making positive identification more difficult. Game and Fish is now consulting with outside experts about the photo, taken Sept. 23 and submitted by a sportsman, to better identify the species.

 “We have definitively determined that it is either a jaguar or an ocelot, but we need to do further analysis of the animal’s spot patterns and size to try to positively identify which species it is,” said Game and Fish Nongame Branch Chief Eric Gardner.    

Four of the last five confirmed jaguar sightings in Arizona have been reported by hunters, who all took responsible action to document the animal and report it to Game and Fish. Sportsmen also provided Game and Fish with two sets of trail camera photos of an ocelot in the Huachuca Mountains in 2012. These hunters have provided biologists with critical information that may not otherwise be known, information that will help increase the understanding of these species’ existence in the borderland area.

Jaguars have been protected outside of the United States under the Endangered Species Act since 1973. That protection was extended to jaguars within the U.S. in 1997, the year after their presence in the Arizona and New Mexico borderlands was confirmed.

Jaguars once ranged from southern South America through Central America and Mexico and into the southern United States. It is believed that southern Arizona is the most northern part of the range for a population of jaguars living in Sonora, Mexico.

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.

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, young mountain lions and servals, an African cat popular in the pet trade, are sometimes misidentified as ocelots, which is why verification is so very important.

Jaguars and ocelots are protected by the Endangered Species Act and should be left alone. If anyone encounters a cat believed to be a jaguar or ocelot, the Game and Fish Department requests that photos along with observation information be reported immediately to the department or through the Operation Game Thief hotline at (800) 352-0700.


Deer and elk hunters can assist in monitoring for CWD

The Arizona Game and Fish Department is asking for assistance from deer and elk hunters in monitoring efforts for chronic wasting disease (CWD).

Hunters can provide assistance by allowing Game and Fish personnel or a cooperating taxidermist or game meat processor to collect a tissue sample from their harvested deer or elk.

CWD is a neurodegenerative wildlife disease that is fatal to cervids, which include deer, elk and moose. Clinical signs include loss of body weight or emaciation, excessive salivation, increased drinking and urination, stumbling, trembling, and behavioral changes such as listlessness, lowering of the head, and repetitive walking in set patterns. No evidence has been found to indicate that CWD affects humans, according to both the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization.

CWD has been detected in 22 states and Canadian provinces as of August 2012. Arizona Game and Fish began conducting CWD surveillance in the state in 1998 and has since collected more than 16,000 samples. No samples have yet tested positive for the disease, but Arizona shares borders with three states—Utah, Colorado and New Mexico—in which CWD has been found.

“The success of the CWD surveillance program is reliant upon the participation of hunters, meat processors, and taxidermists,” said Wildlife Disease Biologist Carrington Knox. “To ensure that CWD has not entered Arizona from neighboring states, we are concentrating our efforts in the game management units that border Utah and New Mexico.”

For Kaibab and Arizona Strip hunters (Units 12A, 12B, 13A, and 13B), the Jacob Lake check station will be open for collecting samples on the following dates: Oct. 12-16 during the juniors-only deer hunt; Oct. 26-Nov. 5 for the general deer hunt; and Nov. 23-Dec. 3 for the late season hunt. The check station will be operational from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., except for the day following the end of each hunt (Oct. 16, Nov. 5, and Dec. 3) when the check station will close at 12 noon.

Department biologists will also be collecting samples during the juniors-only elk hunt in Units 1 and 2C from Oct. 12-15. In addition, biologists will be working in the field from Nov. 2-5 and Nov. 16-19 in Unit 28, seeking successful hunters to provide samples for the CWD monitoring effort in this area.

Hunters who wish to assist the monitoring effort by bringing in the head of their recently harvested deer or elk to a Game and Fish Department office for sampling are requested to do so between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Place the head in a heavy plastic garbage bag for delivery and keep it cool and out of the sun. If the weather is warm, it is best to either bring in the head within a day of harvest or keep it on ice in a cooler before delivery.

When submitting heads for sampling, please provide accurate, up-to-date hunter information (name, street address, city, state, zip code and phone number) as well as hunt information (hunt number, permit number, game management unit harvested in, county, state, and hunting license), as this information is crucial should CWD be detected in a sample. If this information is not provided, the Department will be unable to test the sample.

Test results are available online at www.azgfd.gov/cwd, by clicking the “Chronic Wasting Disease Test Results” link on the right side of the page.

Additional information about CWD can be found at www.azgfd.gov/cwd or www.cwd-info.org.


Game and Fish moves home-invading bear cub to Heritage Park Zoo

TUCSON, Ariz.  – Arizona Game and Fish Department officers responded to a call on Thursday of a black bear inside a Sonoita-area residence. Homeowners awoke to find a bear cub had entered their home through an open kitchen window and eaten some chocolate cake. Since there was no sign of an adult bear in the area, Game and Fish removed the cub and transferred the orphaned bear to the Heritage Park Zoo in Prescott.

The zoo plans to keep the cub for future exhibit.

This year has proved difficult for bears in southeastern Arizona. The combination of last year’s fires and ongoing drought has resulted in a scarcity of natural food sources. Game and Fish cautions residents against leaving any food or trash unsecured – including orchard fruit and pet and bird food – as this may attract wildlife to residential areas. Bears have a keen sense of smell and can quickly grow accustomed to human-provided food sources, potentially leading to conflicts with bears that come into human-occupied areas.

Any sightings of bears in urban areas or human-bear conflicts should be reported promptly to the Arizona Game and Fish Department at (623) 236-7201.

Arizona is home to an estimated 2,500 black bears, the only bear species found in the state. Black bears may be brown, cinnamon or blonde colored. They can weigh between 125 to 400 pounds and are most active at dawn and dusk.

For more information on living with Arizona’s bears, visit www.azgfd.gov/urbanwildlife.


Trout stockings to begin at Green Valley Lakes in Payson Oct. 15

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Payson residents and visitors can welcome back the trout to beautiful Green Valley Park on Monday afternoon, Oct. 15. More than 700 Colorado-grown rainbow trout will be delivered to kick off the trout stocking season that features 11- to 14-inch rainbow trout delivered every two weeks.

Fall is a wonderful time to visit the rim country, see the colors, and relax and fish along the grassy shorelines of this popular urban fishery just a mile west of Highway 87 on Main Street.

The fish stocking program at Green Valley is different from the other Urban Fishing Program waters. Rainbow trout are the only species stocked by the department during an eight-month season that starts in mid October and continues through early May. No other fish species are stocked at Green Valley, however good populations of bass, crappie, sunfish and even catfish can be found in this highly productive lake system. Best bets for trout are worms, Power Bait, and small jigs and spinners.

For more information on the Urban Fishing Program, including lake locations, what to fish for, license requirements, and related tips, visit http://www.azgfd.gov/h_f/urban_fishing.shtml or pick up an Urban Fishing Program Guidebook at department offices or at fishing license dealers.


Deadline to apply for 2013 commission appointment is Oct. 12

The Governor’s office is still accepting applications for the 2013 appointment to the Arizona Game and Fish Commission. Applications must be postmarked or received by 5 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 12, 2012. They can be submitted online at www.azgovernor.gov/BC/Application07.asp.

Members must be well informed on the subject of wildlife and the requirements for its conservation. In accordance with state statute, the commission is required to maintain political balance, therefore, applicants for this particular vacancy may not be registered Republican.

Also, no two members may be from the same county. Since the commission currently has members from Apache, Maricopa, Navajo and Pima counties, residents of those counties may not apply for this opening. Residents of Cochise, Coconino, Gila, Graham, Greenlee, La Paz, Mohave, Pinal, Santa Cruz, Yavapai and Yuma counties are eligible to apply.

Per state statute, the Arizona Game and Fish Commission Appointment Recommendation Board shall assist the governor by interviewing, evaluating and recommending candidates. The board shall recommend at least two, but no more than five, candidates to the governor. The governor must select and appoint a commissioner from the list submitted by the board.

For further information, contact the Governor’s Office of Boards and Commissions at (602) 542-2449 or toll free at (800) 253-0883.

For more information about the Arizona Game and Fish Commission, visit www.azgfd.gov/commission. For more information about the Office of the Governor, please visit www.azgovernor.gov.


Public comment invited on Arizona Game and Fish proposed strategic plan

The Arizona Game and Fish Department has released the draft of its new strategic plan, Wildlife 20/20, and wants your comments and input.

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Wildlife 20/20 provides broad strategic guidance for all department programs. It is intended to be a living document that conveys policy direction that the Arizona Game and Fish Commission has provided to the department to guide its work into the future. It will be complemented by additional plans designed to provide more specific direction, as needed.

The plan is available for review at http://www.azgfd.gov/inside_azgfd/strategic_plan.shtml.

Written comments can be submitted through Friday, Oct. 26, 2012, by e-mail to agfdStrategicPlan@azgfd.gov.

Written comments can also be sent via U.S. mail to Strategic Plan, Arizona Game and Fish Department, Attn: Sherry Crouch, 5000 W. Carefree Highway, Phoenix, AZ 85086.

When submitting comments on particular portions of the document, please include a reference to the location within the document (such as a page and paragraph number) to which you are referring.

The department is planning to conduct a webcast about the new plan in the near future. An announcement will be sent out when the date and time are finalized.

After public comments are reviewed and considered, the final draft Wildlife 20/20 plan is anticipated to be presented to the Arizona Game and Fish Commission for consideration at its Dec. 7-8 meeting in Phoenix. 

For more information, visit http://www.azgfd.gov/inside_azgfd/strategic_plan.shtml.


Long-time Fishing Report editor retires
 
Rory Aikens, who became known to thousands of anglers through his long-time tenure as editor of the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Weekly Fishing Report, retired last week after a 22-year career with the department.

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“It’s been a superb ride full of exciting assignments in the field, interesting projects to cover, and even challenging controversies to address. The icing on the cake was getting paid to write about fishing, hunting and wildlife,” Aikens said.

Aikens began his career as a public information officer with Game and Fish in 1990 after serving as a reporter and editor for the Prescott Daily Courier and the White Mountain Independent newspapers. Before that, he served in the military (including active duty in Vietnam) and earned his journalism degree at Northern Arizona University.

Aikens was involved with all types of publications and media relations during his career. One of his true loves is fishing, and he published all types of tips, updates and angler reports over his many years as editor of the Weekly Fishing Report. He recently authored “Arizona’s Official Fishing Guide,” with assistance from AZGFD fisheries and regional staff and published in cooperation with Arizona Highways magazine.

“I am not totally riding away into the sunset. I will still be a contributing writer-photographer to Arizona Wildlife Views magazine and will also be doing freelance work with a variety of other publications. So with any luck, maybe I’ll see you out there from time to time,” Aikens said in parting.

The department plans to continue publishing the Weekly Fishing Report. If you’re not already getting the report, you can subscribe for free at www.azgfd.gov/signup. You can also submit reader reports and fish stories for consideration to bfishing@azgfd.gov.

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