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Wildlife News – April 6, 2012

Posted in: Wildlife News
Apr 6, 2012
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  • New interactive fishing map launched
  • Want to find out exact locations where trout are stocked?
  • Outdoor Expo draws 33,000 over weekend, record 5,000 on Youth Day 
  • Volunteers sought for wildlife habitat enhancement project in Unit 4A
  • Woman attacked by pet wild coati
  • AZ Wildlife Views TV receives international recognition
  • As temperatures rise, critters become active
  • Proposed fall hunt recommendations are available for review online 
  • Public comment sought on addition of 3 species to aquatic invasive species list
  • Safety is paramount when you’re out on a boat
  • AZGFD offers grant money to improve public boating facilities
  • Haven't yet filed your tax return? You can still help wildlife at tax time


New interactive fishing map launched

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Can a mouse help you catch fish? It can if it’s a computer mouse.

Finding out where to fish and lots of other great information is just a mouse click away thanks to a new interactive online fishing map just launched by the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

Just visit http://gis.azgfd.gov/fishandboat or www.azgfd.gov and you will find 150 of Arizona’s best fishing lakes, streams and rivers.

Besides showing how to get there, the interactive fishing map also provides lots of other useful information, including the type of fish species, the available facilities and concessions, and even special regulations that might apply.

“This is an interactive Google map, which is very user friendly, so finding information about a fishery is just a click away, or maybe a touch away if you have a touch screen,” says Eric Swanson, the fisheries biologist who spearheaded creating the new site.

Swanson added that the map navigation is also keyed to other things, such as fish species. “For instance, if you want to know where to catch native Apache trout, then just click on the box and on the map it will show all the waters with these wonderful native trout. It’s simple, easy and very intuitive to use.”

The map also contains lots of information for recreational boaters as well. “By May we will be posting more detailed boating information, so from that standpoint, it’s a work in progress. The fishing information, however, is very robust,” Swanson says.

The map is just one of a couple of useful online tools being made available by Game and Fish. Read below for information on the online interactive trout stocking schedule.


Want to find out exact locations where trout are stocked?

Ever wondered where the feisty rainbow trout are stocked along Christopher Creek or Tonto Creek by the Arizona Game and Fish Department? Well, just click here

Thanks to a new hi-tech online interactive trout stocking schedule just released by Arizona Game and Fish, you can now find out where trout are stocked, especially along streams, and also see maps of the fisheries as well. The full address is www.azgfd.gov/pdfs/h_f/fishing/stocking/2012SumTroutStockSchedule.pdf.

“Anglers routinely call asking ‘where do you stock trout’ at one water or another, especially the streams. This interactive stocking schedule goes a long way toward answering that question,” said Scott Gurtin, the hatcheries program manager for Game and Fish.

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The map was Scott’s brain child. “Another cool feature is you can enter your starting address and have Google maps show you the way to the fishing spot,” Gurtin said.

So not only does the spring-summer trout stocking season kick into gear the first week of April, it’s easier than ever to find out where the fisheries are located, how to get to them, and when feasible, know when and where the trout are stocked.

It’s time to get your trout fishing gear ready because this is the leading edge of the great spring fishing.

“To me, it’s pretty exciting. Today’s technological advances and applications such as Google maps allow us to better serve our angling customers,” Gurtin said. “Be sure to get your 2012 fishing license.”

Don’t forget that you can also sign up at www.azgfd.gov to have the weekly fishing report delivered directly to your computer, smart phone or other e-mail-friendly device.

This is shaping up to be a good fishing year. Go catch some memories!


Outdoor Expo draws 33,000 over weekend, record 5,000 on Youth Day

The Arizona Game and Fish Department’s 2012 Outdoor Expo drew 33,000 people over the March 31-April 1 weekend at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility in Phoenix.

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In addition, a record 5,000 schoolchildren, teachers and chaperones attended the Expo Youth Day on Friday, March 30, meaning 38,000 people total attended over the three days.

The three-day total is the second highest in Expo history behind last year’s 42,000. Officials attributed the slight drop in attendance due to near-record heat on Saturday.

The Outdoor Expo is an annual event conducted by Game and Fish to give the public the chance to learn about wildlife-related and outdoor recreation activities, including wildlife viewing, fishing, hunting, archery, shooting sports, camping, off-highway vehicle recreation, and boating recreation.

In addition to the hands-on activities, more than 160 exhibitors were on hand, including sportsmen’s and conservation organizations, government agencies, and commercial vendors of outdoor products and services.

The Gold Sponsors for the 2012 Outdoor Expo were Cabela’s and Airpark Dodge/Ram/Chrysler/Jeep. Silver Sponsors were the Weatherby Foundation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Bronze Sponsors were Remington and Winchester Ammunition. Other sponsors were White Flyer Targets, Diamond Ridge Development, and HomCo Ace Hardware Tempe.

Next year’s Outdoor Expo will be held March 23-24 at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility.


Volunteers sought for wildlife habitat enhancement project in Unit 4A

WINSLOW, Ariz. - Volunteers are invited to participate in an Arizona Elk Society work project on April 14-15 on the O’Haco Ranch, near Chevelon Butte in Game Management Unit 4A.

This project will involve cleaning out, grinding and then resealing a 50,000-gallon water tank that feeds the ranch’s extensive pipeline that supplies year-round water to many elk and antelope. The tank is leaking and in need of repair. The ranch owner, Jim O’Haco, has been an excellent steward of the land and wildlife habitat.

The project is seeking 25 hard-working volunteers. All volunteers are welcome—you do not need to be an Arizona Elk Society member to help.

Volunteers can arrive in camp on Friday, April 13. The Elk Society will provide a meal on Friday night, breakfast, lunch and dinner on Saturday, and breakfast on Sunday. The Elk Society and the Arizona Game and Fish Department will supply the tools needed for this project.

Be prepared for cool mornings and possibly rain. Old clothes are recommended for those working with the grinders and the resealing (applying epoxy). Although an ample supply of face masks and goggles or safety glasses should be available, please bring your own if you have them.

Space will be available for vehicle, tent and RV camping.

A map and camp directions are available at www.arizonaelksociety.org.  If you sign up, an e-mail with more information will be sent to you.

To sign up or for additional information, contact Tom Schorr at tomschorr@arizonaelksociety.org or Troy Christensen at (623) 236-7492 or tchristensen@azgfd.gov.


Woman attacked by pet wild coati

KINGMAN, Ariz.  – A Prescott Valley woman was bitten on April 2 by a coati, a member of the raccoon family, which she had allegedly been keeping illegally as a pet. The animal attacked the woman, biting and slicing her finger when she tried to take something away from it.

It is illegal in Arizona to take animals out of the wild or to possess restricted wildlife without a permit.

The immature coati was about the size of a large house cat. The tips of the animal’s toes had been amputated at or near the last joint. 

When the woman voluntarily surrendered the animal to Game and Fish officials, it was wearing a tight red pet harness device that had left marks from what appeared to be nearly constant wear and constriction. The coati had also been neutered. It had been living on an unnatural diet of cold cereal, human baby food, and a milk-based protein drink for domestic pets.

“Wild animals deserve to live their lives in the wild,” said Jim Paxon, information branch chief for Game and Fish. “This is a basic tenet of wildlife conservation.”

When the animal bit the woman, it broke and sliced her skin, leaving a bleeding wound that required medical treatment. Because the bite had broken the woman’s skin, testing the coati for rabies was necessary.

“The only way to test for rabies requires us to euthanize the animal,” said Dr. Anne Justice-Allen, the veterinarian for Game and Fish. “That’s been done and the necropsy is being conducted to test for rabies.”

Many animals in the wild may look tame enough to be pets, but it’s important to remember that wildlife is just that – wild. Although they may act docile and domesticated, the unpredictable behavior of wildlife has resulted in many injuries, often grave and even deadly.

“Eventually a wild animal’s natural instincts will surface,” Paxon said. “Keep wildlife wild. Don’t feed them. Don’t take them out of the wild. Let them live the lives they were meant to live.”

An investigation by Game and Fish is ongoing.


AZ Wildlife Views TV receives international recognition

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Arizona Wildlife Views, the Emmy award-winning television show produced by the Arizona Game and Fish Department, was recently honored by the International Wildlife Film Festival with an Honorable Mention for its video, “Sonoran Pronghorn: Back to the Wild”.

The video features the recovery efforts by Game and Fish, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and other cooperating partners to help save the endangered Sonoran Pronghorn and return it to its home range in southern Arizona. It was chosen for recognition due to its strong conservation message and has been selected to be screened at the upcoming festival in Missoula, Mont., in May.

This will be the 35th annual International Wildlife Film Festival, considered one of the premier festivals of its type in the world. 

Arizona Wildlife Views is a 13-week, half-hour show that airs on Arizona PBS stations and city cable channels throughout the state. The show is produced by the Information Branch of the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

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


As temperatures rise, critters become active
Rattlers, scorpions, lizards ready for spring feeding

Arizona has entered its spring warming trend, and with warmer temperatures come those slithering, crawling, burrowing, and web-making critters people often fear.

“In a 2001 Gallup poll, 51 percent of adults cited snakes as their biggest fear and spiders were fifth,” said Zen Mocarski, public information officer for the Game and Fish Region 3 office in Kingman. “But, spiders, scorpions, rattlesnakes, the Gila monster, and a variety of other critters are part of life in Arizona. As it warms up, they’ll become increasingly more visible.”

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The Arizona Game and Fish Department reminds the public that people who take the time to learn and educate themselves and their children can minimize the likelihood of a dangerous encounter.

Arizona serves as home to the most dangerous rattlesnake, spider, lizard, and scorpion in the nation. However, bites and stings aren’t as common as most might believe.

Mocarski worries most about young children who have a natural curiosity of their surroundings.

“Parents need to teach children not to pick up any type of wildlife,” he said. “Teach your kids to come and get you when they see something.”

The most commonly encountered rattlesnake in Arizona is the western diamondback, which also accounts for the most bites. And, while there is no such thing as a typical rattlesnake bite, the Mohave is accepted as the most dangerous, although the potency of its venom can vary from region-to-region.

“What’s the most dangerous rattlesnake?” Mocarski asked. “The one that bit you.”

Mocarski said accidental bites are rare and many incidents involve alcohol. However, if bitten, the rules to follow are simple.

“Remove any restrictive clothing and jewelry and get to a medical facility as quickly as possible,” he explained. “Forget what you’ve seen in movies and get treatment with anti-venom.

“Do not cut open the bite area and try to suck out the venom, don’t submerge the bite area in ice, and do not tie off the area with a tourniquet.”

While approximately 30 percent of rattlesnake bites are considered dry bites – those that do not require anti-venom treatment – a medical professional should make that determination.

In addition, do not spend time trying to capture or collect the rattlesnake. Identification is not necessary for treatment.

Understanding wildlife behavior can go a long way in avoiding bites and stings.

Rattlesnakes are cold blooded and have to work to try and maintain an ideal body temperature. During cooler times, such as evening hours, rattlesnakes will seek out a heat source such as pavement. During the heat of the day, they will seek shade.

Mocarski added that it is a myth that rattlers will always rattle before a strike.

“It’s our jobs to take certain precautions,” Mocarski said. “Keep a close eye on the sides of trails and never place your hands and feet in an area you can’t see.”

As for dogs, Mocarski said encounters with rattlesnakes can be dangerous.

“Dogs tend to be bitten around the face and neck,” he explained. “Training can help, but keeping your pet on a leash and close to your side will help avoid bites that occur as a result of a dog’s natural curiosity.”

For scorpions and spiders, Mocarski said to wear gloves when working around wood or rock piles and to shake out shoes that have been left outside. He added that open-toed shoes provide little protection.

Most scorpion stings are comparable to that of a bee. However, the sting of the bark scorpion can be more severe. Its sting can be harmful to young children, the elderly, and individuals in poor health.

“People need to remember that everyone reacts differently to venom,” Mocarski explained. “Pay attention to how your body is reacting. If someone is having trouble breathing, slurred speech, or nausea, following a bite or sting, they should probably seek medical attention.”

While all spiders are venomous, two factors must exist to be considered a threat to humans: the venom must be strong enough to do damage and their jaws must be able to break human skin. With these factors in mind, two spiders in the area are considered dangerous to humans: the brown (a relative of the brown recluse), and the black widow.

The Gila monster is the only dangerous lizard in North America. Its bite is extremely painful and can result in vomiting and convulsions. The Gila monster is also notorious for not letting go and victims have been known to show up at an emergency room with the lizard still attached.

“A Gila monster bite is not something an individual wants to experience,” Mocarski said. “The good news is that if people leave them alone, they’ll leave the people alone. I’ve never heard of an accidental Gila monster bite.”

Mocarski added that the Gila monster is protected and it is illegal to disturb, capture, or kill one. It is rarely seen, spending much of its life underground.

“All these animals are important parts of the ecosystem,” Mocarski explained. “Rattlesnakes help keep rodent populations under control while scorpions and spiders feast on a number of different types of insects.

“They’ve been here a long time. It’s our job to learn to live with them, not their job to learn to live with us.” 


Proposed fall hunt recommendations are available for review online

The Arizona Game and Fish Department has posted the proposed 2012-13 fall hunt recommendations for deer, turkey, javelina, bighorn sheep, buffalo, bear and mountain lion regulations, as well as the recommendations for 2012-14 small game, predator-furbearer and trapping regulations, at www.azgfd.gov/huntguidelines.

The recommendations will also be available for review at four remaining open houses next week at department regional offices. While no formal presentation will be given, a knowledgeable staff person will be available to discuss the recommendations and answer questions specific to their region.

The open houses will be held from 3-5 p.m. on the following dates and locations:

  • Monday, April 9, Tucson, Region 5 Game and Fish office, 555 N. Greasewood Road, (520) 628-5376.
  • Tuesday, April 10, Yuma, Region 4 Game and Fish office, 9140 E. 28th St., (928) 342-0091.
  • Wednesday, April 11, Flagstaff, Region 2 Game and Fish office, 3500 S. Lake Mary Road, (928) 774-5045.
  • Wednesday, April 11, Mesa, Region 6 Game and Fish office, 7200 E. University Drive, (480) 981-9400.

Open houses were previously held in Pinetop and Kingman on April 5.

The Arizona Game and Fish Commission will be presented with the recommendations on Saturday, April 14, during its regular meeting in Phoenix at the Game and Fish headquarters on 5000 W. Carefree Highway in Phoenix. A meeting agenda is posted at www.azgfd.gov/inside_azgfd/meeting_agenda.shtml.


Public comment sought on addition of 3 species to aquatic invasive species list

The Arizona Game and Fish Department is seeking public input on the proposed addition of three potentially harmful aquatic invasive species to the Director’s Orders list.

Directors Orders help address the monitoring and the prevention of spread of aquatic invasive plants and wildlife in Arizona.

The three proposed candidates to be added are:

Northern snakehead. These fish have a torpedo-like body shape and can grow to more than 2-1/2 feet in length. Their native range is China and Korea and they have been found in certain areas in the U.S., although not yet in Arizona waters. They are listed as restricted live wildlife in the state. Snakeheads are voracious predators, and their spread to Arizona could affect other populations of fish, amphibians and invertebrates through direct predation, competition for food resources, and alteration of food webs. For more information on Arizona’s risk analysis of northern snakeheads, visit www.azgfd.gov/h_f/documents/AIS-NorthernSnakeheadRisk.pdf.

Asian carp. Three species of Asian carp—silver, black, and bighead—are currently recommended for addition to the list of aquatic invasive species. They are native to temperate and sub-tropical eastern Asia and have generally not yet been found in Arizona, although some bighead carp have been noted in Kennedy Lake (an AZGFD Urban Fishing Program water) in Tucson. Silver, black and bighead carp are listed as restricted live wildlife in the state. These large-bodied fish can grow to as much as 75-100 pounds, depending on species, and spread quickly after introduction, becoming abundant and hurting native fish either by damaging habitats or by consuming vast amounts of food. They have few, if any, predators and can put extreme pressure on the base of the food chain (plants, algae, phytoplankton) and dramatically alter aquatic ecosystems. They can also carry and transmit aquatic diseases into these invaded environments. For more information on Arizona’s risk analysis of Asian carp, visit www.azgfd.gov/h_f/documents/AIS-AsianCarpRisk.pdf.

Apple snail has a number of species with shells that are globular in shape and can grow to nearly 6 inches in length, depending on species. They are native to parts of South America and small portions of the southern U.S., but they have spread to other parts of the country and in Asia. In Arizona, they have been found in the Colorado River near Yuma and in the Lower Salt River near Granite Reef. They are not currently on the list of restricted live wildlife in the state. Apple snails could present a major risk to our state’s native wetland ecosystems and agricultural community, potentially competing with native species for limited resources, introducing parasites, and having significant impacts on agricultural crops. They have the potential to alter freshwater habitats, significantly causing shifts in ecosystem state and function. For more information on Arizona’s risk analysis of apple snails, visit www.azgfd.gov/h_f/documents/AIS-AppleSnailRisk.pdf.

To submit comments regarding the proposed addition of these three species to Arizona’s list of aquatic invasive species in Director’s Order #1, and the associated updates to the list of affected waters (Director’s Order #2) and the mandatory conditions for moving a boat from or between affected waters (Director’s Order #3), please e-mail your comments or concerns to AIScomments@azgfd.gov. The deadline to submit comment is Friday, April 27.

For more information, please visit www.azgfd.gov/ais.


Safety is paramount when you’re out on a boat

Temperatures are warming up, and that means more people will be taking to Arizona’s waterways for boating fun in the sun.

While a day on the water offers relaxation and recreation, safe boating practices are key to enjoying your outing.

The most important thing to do when on the water is to be “situationally aware,” said Kevin Bergersen, state boating law administrator with the Arizona Game and Fish Department. That means know what is going on around you, and that conditions on the water can change quickly.

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“In high winds, rough conditions, stormy weather and at night, break out the life jackets and put them on,” Bergersen said. “When things start to look bad, it could be bad.”

Already this year a 21-year-old man drowned on March 24 after he fell off an inner tube while being towed by a boat near Windsor Beach on Lake Havasu. Preliminary indications are that the man, whose body was found Monday, was not wearing a life jacket, according to the Mohave County Sheriff’s Office. The accident is still under investigation.

Bergersen said to remember to Boat Safe, Boat Smart and Boat Sober.

Boat safe by avoiding waterskiing in congested areas, steering clear of nearby boaters, avoiding excessive speeds while towing skiers, knowing your limits, and retrieving skiers rapidly from busy waters. Boaters should always travel in a counterclockwise direction while on the water.

“Boaters should keep the closest shore over their right shoulder, and they shouldn’t cut blind corners where oncoming boaters can’t see them,” Bergersen said.

In addition, he said, all people on board must have a readily available, properly sized U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket. Children 12 and younger must wear them anytime a boat is under way; there is no mandatory wear law for those older than 12. If you don’t want to wear a life jacket all the time, Bergersen said, it is critical that you put one on at night, in storms and when the water is cold.

Boat smart by taking a boating safety education class and learning the navigation rules of the waterways. Educated boaters are safer boaters. Boating accident statistics show that more than 70 percent of all boat operators involved in accidents have not attended any formal boating safety education classes. An online course may be found at www.boat-ed.com/arizona/index.html.

Boat sober by having a designated boat operator. Consuming alcohol is allowed on a boat, but the operator cannot be under the influence of alcohol (known as Operating Under the Influence, or OUI).  Just like driving a motor vehicle under the influence, the legal limit for blood alcohol while operating a boat is .08. OUI is a Class One misdemeanor. You can be arrested.

“Booze and boats don’t mix,” Bergersen said, noting that alcohol is a contributing factor in 40 percent of all fatal recreational boating accidents in Arizona.

For more information, please visit: www.azgfd.gov/boating.


AZGFD offers grant money to improve public boating facilities

The Arizona Game and Fish Department is offering $660,000 in federal grant money to enhance and improve public boating facilities at Arizona lakes and waterways. 

“If you enjoy boating on Arizona waters, this money is specifically for improving that kind of recreation,” said Ron Christofferson, Game and Fish’s boating facilities program manager. “Every year, the department makes grant funds available to applicants who wish to complete boating facility projects that otherwise might not receive funding. This is the opportunity to apply for these grants.”

The funds currently available are through the Clean Vessel Act and the Boating Infrastructure Grant. These federal programs focus on pumpout facilities for on-board restrooms, as well as boating facilities specifically intended to accommodate watercraft over 26 feet in length. Funding for the grants is provided by federal taxes on the sale of equipment related to fishing and boating, and on motorboat fuel.

Many such projects have been completed in Arizona over the past decade, ranging from renovation and building of new courtesy docks, pumpout stations and restrooms, to adding new marine fueling stations. Such improvements have recently been implemented at Canyon and Bartlett lakes, as well as at Lake Pleasant and Lake Havasu.

“This is an outstanding example of a program where the people who pay fees and taxes directly benefit from the grant funding. In this case, anglers and boaters pay taxes on fishing tackle and motorboat fuel and import fees on tackle and boats. Then, this money is allocated each year to each state to support boating access projects anglers and boaters can enjoy,” Christofferson said.

Agencies, marinas and individuals eligible for the grant money are those with legal ownership or control of public boating facilities on any Arizona public waterway where boats are allowed.

Grant funds are awarded through a competitive application process, and applicants are reviewed and judged on the basis of priorities, project feasibility, and overall merit as they relate to the current needs of the boating public. No state funding is currently available through these programs. 

For more information on how to apply for the grants, visit the department’s boating facilities web page at www.azgfd.gov/outdoor_recreation/boating_facilities.shtml.


Haven't yet filed your tax return? You can still help wildlife at tax time

The deadline for filing tax returns is fast approaching, and Arizonans who haven’t yet filed their return still have the option to help the state’s wildlife by “making a mark” on their state income tax form.

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The Arizona Wildlife Fund is a voluntary program that allows taxpayers to make a donation to help imperiled and endangered wildlife, including 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 www.azgfd.gov/w_c/nongame_species.shtml.

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