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  July 12 Wildlife News

Wildlife News
Jul 12, 2006

  • Big game draw still on target
  • Super raffle raises half-million for wildlife
  • Some national forests and public lands reopen; be bear aware
  • Arizona Game and Fish hosts photo contest  
  • Advisory council fights real problems from invasive species in AZ
  • Don’t pick up baby birds and other young wildlife
  • Free wild bat show playing nightly in Phoenix
  • New wolf pack roaming eastern Arizona
  • Arizona Wildlife Views receives five national awards
  • Wellton-Mohawk Irrigation District receives national conservation award

Big game draw still on target
The Arizona Game and Fish Department is actively processing fall hunt-permit applications and is committed to getting the results out to applicants on time.

“Due to technical problems experienced during the last two days before the fall hunt application deadline, we are still actively working to process all the applications properly,” said Assistant Director of Special Services Richard Rico.

Rico said the department is committed to conducting the draw in a timely manner, mailing the results out to its customers by July 28 and sending out any refunds by Aug. 11.

In past years, the department has had a terrific track record of getting the draw accomplished and releasing the results up to two weeks ahead of the deadline.

“We might not be as early as we would like to be, but we’ll get it done,” Rico says.

Arizona’s big game super raffle raises $514,055 for wildlife
PHOENIX – Nine lucky winners now have hunt-permit tags of a lifetime while Arizona’s first-ever big game super raffle raised more than a half million dollars for wildlife conservation in the state.

The nine winners of special, prized commissioner’s hunting tags with yearlong season dates were drawn from a drum on July 8, and almost immediately the goal for next year’s super raffle was set at raising a million dollars for wildlife.

The big game super raffle is a new concept, not just for Arizona, but for the nation. For years, two commissioner tags were set aside per big game species in Arizona, and they were auctioned off or raffled by individual sportsmen’s groups to raise money for wildlife. A third tag per species was created last year by the state Legislature. Several sportsmen’s groups then joined together in a unique collaborative effort to market these nine new commissioner tags via a super raffle.

These dedicated sportsman-conservation groups sold 42,606 raffle tickets for the nine available commissioner tags, a total raised of $514,055. Although 56 percent of the tickets were sold within Arizona, raffle tickets were actually sold in every state except Vermont, plus Canada. Every dollar raised goes directly to wildlife and wildlife management for the particular species.

In addition, 4,752 raffle tickets for a Swarovski optics package were sold, which raised more than $47,000 to cover the operating expenses of the raffle. Swarovski donated the optics package.

The super raffle winners were:

  • Antelope - Wallace Duncan, Flagstaff
  • Black Bear - Pete Demassari, Chandler:
  • Buffalo - Andrew Pontious, Upland, Calif.:
  • Coues Whitetail - Olga Boido, Tucson;
  • Desert Bighorn Sheep - Gerald Carter, Caldwell, Texas:
  • Elk - Gary Chiurazzi, Peoria:
  • Javelina - John Dardis, Jamestown, N.D.:
  • Mule Deer - Garel Westall Jr., Carlsbad, N.M.:
  • Turkey – Harold Barton, Corbin, Ky.:
  • Swarovski optics - Paul Lennon, Benson:

After each winner was drawn from the barrel, he or she was immediately called and hooked into a speakerphone, often with the accompaniment of much appreciative applause from the assembled sportsmen.

The night’s humorous relief came from deep in the heart of Texas. “I’ll tell ya what now, this here is a pretty good present,” said Gerald Carter from Caldwell, Texas, after being told he had won the much-coveted bighorn sheep tag. Without skipping a beat, the Texan asked with a slight drawl, “Have you all drawn for elk yet? Hope ya’ll will be calling back in a few minutes.”

Following completion of the drawing, Pete Cimellaro told the assembled representatives from the various organizations that everyone thought he was crazy when he set the super raffle goal this year of raising a half-million dollars for wildlife.  “I’m going to tell you right now, this $500,000 is going to double next year.” 

Cimellaro explained that with all the sportsmen’s groups working together on this project, “This thing is going to grow and grow, and raise millions for wildlife.”

Some national forests and public lands reopen; be bear aware
The monsoon rains are here, fire restrictions are being reduced in many areas, so a lot of Arizonans are taking this opportunity to go camping, fishing and wildlife watching. But while outdoor recreating in the forests, please remember to be bear aware.

Thanks to our recent rain, fire danger on national forests and other public lands has been somewhat reduced, but there are still other potential problems when you’re out in the wild. One is the real possibility that you might attract wild animals to your campsite.

“We want people to enjoy their time in the great outdoors, but we want them to enjoy it responsibly,” says Mike Senn, head of the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Field Operations Division. “Despite the recent rain, we’re still dealing with drought conditions overall, and that means many large animals are on the move, looking for food and water.”

You can do several simple things to reduce your risk of having an unpleasant wildlife encounter:
1. Never intentionally feed wildlife.
2. Secure all garbage.
3. Keep a clean camp.
4. Do not cook in your tent or sleeping area.
5. Store all food, toiletries and other scented items well away from sleeping areas and unavailable to bears.
6. Wash up, change clothing and remove all scented articles before retiring to your sleeping area.
7. Walk or jog in groups. Pay attention to your surroundings when hiking, jogging or bicycling.
8. Supervise your children and keep them in sight.
9. Keep your pets on a leash and don’t allow them to roam free, or leave them at home if you can, because they can get into conflicts with a variety of wildlife.

If you are ever confronted by a bear, don’t run. That can trigger the animal’s chase instinct. Instead, make yourself look as big as possible. Face the animal. Throw something at it. Speak and let it know you are human. Try making noise by banging pans, using air horns or whatever else is available.

Arizona Game and Fish hosts photo contest for 2007 calendar
First-ever contest offers $300 grand prize for Best in Show

Do you enjoy photographing Arizona’s big game mammals rumbling through their diverse habitats? Or do you prefer the more delicate results you get when photographing this state’s feathered friends? Maybe you delight in capturing your family on film as they fish a sun-dappled river, boat along a desert shoreline, draw a bow in the field or pursue other outdoor recreational activities.

Whatever your preference, you are invited to participate in the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s first photo contest for the 2007 wildlife calendar with a top prize of $300 for the “Best in Show” cover photo.

“From antelope and Gila monsters to ATVs and fishing, Arizona offers many opportunities for both novice and veteran photographers," said Game and Fish Assistant Director of wildlife Management Bruce Taubert. "Pictures should tell a story, educate and allow for the enjoyment of the natural beauty of nature."

When heading out to capture the spirit of the outdoors, Game and Fish is offering these helpful tips:

  • Choose a focal point, and make all background scenery enhance it.
  • Use a tripod.
  • Follow the rule of thirds when framing the image in your viewfinder. Divide an image into three parts horizontally and vertically.
  • Respect wildlife by viewing it from a safe distance. Do not interrupt its behavior, whether it is feeding or resting. Do not come between a parent and its offspring.
  • Do not damage or remove any plant or habitat.
  • Be patient—wait for the ideal shot.
  • Use a faster shutter speed when photographing animals in motion, such as birds; Use a slower shutter speed when photographing moving water to create a softer image.

Entries must be submitted to Game and Fish with an official entry form by Aug. 1, 2006. The 12 contest categories include junior photography, reptiles, wildlife in hiding, nature-based activities and more. Entries will be judged on the basis of creativity, photographic quality and effectiveness in conveying the unique character of the subject.

For more information, including contest rules, categories and prizes, please visit azgfd.gov/photocontest.

Governor and advisory council fight real problems from invasive species in AZ
They can threaten our state’s economy, environment and even human health. They’re invasive species, non-native plants and animals that come to Arizona and cause real harm, and the problems they create are now being addressed by Gov. Janet Napolitano’s Arizona Invasive Species Advisory Council.

Arizona is currently dealing with several invasive species problems, including the emergence of roof rats in our urban areas, the competition of non-native crayfish with our native and sport fish species, and the discovery of golden algae in some of our lakes, which causes fish kills.

“Arizona needs to position itself to protect our economy, people and resources in the future,” says Gov. Napolitano, who created the advisory council with an executive order.

The council of experts from both the public and private sector just completed a “Report to the Governor” with recommendations to protect Arizona’s interests from plant and animal species that are brought into our state – both intentionally and unintentionally – and cause harm.

Non-native birds, rodents and insects can bring in human diseases, driving up health care costs. Epidemics of diseases, including malaria, yellow fever, plague and even the recent spread of West Nile Virus, have been associated with invasive animal species.

The cost of invasive species damage and control to agriculture and forestry in the United States is estimated to be more than $138 billion each year. Invasive plants or weeds can cause reductions in crop production, can compete with native plants and can change an area’s ecology.

“We want to address this issue and come up with some real ways to prevent our local communities from sustaining ecological damage or losing money from species that shouldn’t be in Arizona,” says Arizona Game and Fish Department Director Duane Shroufe, whose agency has been heavily involved in creating the new report. “The report addresses a wide variety of invasive species problems, from the fact that they threaten native wildlife species and add fuel to our state’s wildfires, to their threats to tourism and recreation.”

The new report details seven recommendations for combating the invasive species problem. They include:
1. Establishing an invasive species database and mapping system,
2. Developing a comprehensive statewide invasive species management plan,
3. Establishing an Arizona Center for Invasive Species,
4. Creating an invasive species advisory list,
5. Providing outreach and education on the issue.
You can find more information about the Arizona Invasive Species Advisory Council and a link to its report at azgovernor.gov/ais.

Council members include representatives from the Governor’s Office, Arizona Game and Fish Department, Arizona Department of Agriculture, Arizona Department of Transportation, Arizona State Land Department, Arizona State Parks, Arizona Department of Water Resources, U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S.D.A. Forest Service, U.S. Geological Survey, Arizona State University, University of Arizona, Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, The Nature Conservancy, Salt River Project, Arizona Cattle Growers Association, Arizona Native Plant Society, PETsMART, the Arizona Crop Protection Association, Arizona Association of Conservation District, and the nursery and landscape industry.

Don’t pick up baby birds and other young wildlife
You may be tempted to pick up a baby bird or other young wild animal that appears to be on its own, but this is not a good idea.

Recently, the Arizona Game and Fish Department has received several calls and visits from good Samaritans who are trying to do the right thing by “rescuing” baby birds. However, they were actually causing more harm than good.

“If you see a baby animal on its own, don’t assume it’s orphaned and in need of your help,” says Joe Yarchin, urban and watchable wildlife project manager for the Arizona Game and Fish Department. “Usually, the parents are not far away. They may be out gathering food or taking a short break from their young, and if you remove the baby, then you’re actually creating a problem.”

At this time of year, many baby birds can be found on the ground. This is typically just a normal part of learning to fly. During this time, dogs, cats and even people can pose a danger, so if you see a baby bird and a parent nearby, then you may want to remove pets and people from the area, so the parent can care for its young while it’s on the ground.

“Also, remember,” Yarchin says, “If you handle an animal and get it used to human presence, you may doom it from being able to survive in the wild in the future.”

“There is almost never an occasion when you should remove a baby wild animal from its natural environment,” says Elissa Ostergaard, an urban wildlife specialist at the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Tucson office. “It is almost always better to call a wildlife rehabilitator to assess a wild animal and decide whether to move it or not. If you’ve already picked up a young animal, then please put it back exactly where you found it, where its mother can find it.”

Young animals are often left alone for hours at a time while their parents gather food. However, if an animal is shivering, sneezing, very lethargic or obviously injured, then you should call a wildlife rehabilitator.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department has a list of wildlife rehabilitators and their phone numbers available at the department’s Web site at azgfd.gov/urbanwildlife. This section of the department’s Web site also contains details about how to deal with truly injured, sick or orphaned wildlife.

Free wild “bat show” playing nightly in Phoenix
You can catch a free wildlife show every night in Phoenix for the next several weeks, as hundreds of bats swarm over a special bat-viewing deck near the Biltmore area.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department and the Flood Control District of Maricopa County created the viewing deck area just outside a flood control tunnel that bats use as a maternity colony in late spring and summer.

“This is a great opportunity for people who live in the city to get a real wildlife treat without having to drive very far,” says Nancy Renison, an Arizona Game and Fish Department biologist who works on the Arizona Bat Conservation Partnership.

Most of the bats in the tunnel are Mexican free-tailed bats, a type of bat found throughout Arizona in the summertime. These bats have a wingspan of 11 to 13 inches, and roost in caves, mine tunnels, crevices in bridges, parking garages and buildings. The bats primarily feed on moths, mosquitoes and other insects that come out at night.

“Right now, you can see a steady stream of bats leaving the tunnel for their nightly flights to find food,” says Renison. “The show starts just after sunset and runs for about 45 minutes.”

“We encourage the public to experience this environmental education opportunity,” says Theresa Pinto, a project manager for the Flood Control District of Maricopa County. “If you’ve never seen anything like this before, you won’t be disappointed. The bats put on quite a show!”

The urban bat-viewing area is near the intersection of 40th Street and Camelback Road, adjacent to an office complex at 5080 N. 40th Street. From the intersection, head north on 40th Street. As you look for parking, please remember to respect private property and restricted areas. The path to the tunnel is located on the north side of the Arizona Canal. Walk west on the path about 200 yards, past office buildings and a parking garage. Then head north about 20 feet from the gravel path along the canal to a paved path. Walk on the paved path to the top of the tunnel, where you’ll find the viewing area and signage.

Special bat-viewing signs were paid for by the Arizona Game and Fish Department Heritage Fund, which uses money from Arizona Lottery ticket sales for conservation efforts, such as protecting endangered species, educating our children about wildlife, helping urban residents coexist with wildlife, and creating new opportunities for outdoor recreation.

You can also learn more about bats by going to the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Web site at azgfd.gov. The department even offers free bat-themed lesson plans at the Web site to Arizona schools and teachers.

New wolf pack roaming eastern Arizona
A new pack of Mexican gray wolves is now roaming eastern Arizona as part of the reintroduction of the endangered species in the region.

Last week, wildlife biologists placed the family group of four gray wolves in a temporary holding pen to acclimate them to their new home range near Middle Mountain in the Apache National Forest. The group, called the Meridian pack, consists of an alpha male and female and two 12-week-old pups.

Arizona Game and Fish Department officials report the pack chewed their way out of the nylon mesh, low-impact acclimation pen within five hours of being placed there on July 6. Shawn Farry, the department's wolf project field team leader, says the animals are now free-ranging and appear to be doing well.

"With this release, we are attempting to augment the breeding wolf population now in the wild and also to maintain the genetic diversity of the current population,” Farry adds. “The Meridian pack joins nine other packs now living in the wild in the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area in Arizona and New Mexico."

The release site, about 10 miles southwest of Alpine, Ariz, has a signed, one-mile public closure surrounding it, ordered by the USDA Forest Service, to protect the wolves from disturbance. The closure will remain in effect while the wolves occupy the area.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department has been actively involved in Mexican wolf recovery efforts since the mid-1980s. In 1998, in cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 11 wolves were released into the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area in eastern Arizona.
In subsequent years, additional releases have occurred. Management activities have included public opinion surveys, public outreach and education, site feasibility studies, surveys along the Mexican border for naturally occurring wolves, intensive coordination with other cooperating agencies, and adaptive management with the public.


“Arizona Wildlife Views” receives five national awards
“Arizona Wildlife Views,” the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s popular PBS wildlife television program, is being recognized with five Excellence in Craft Awards from the Outdoor Writers Association of America (OWAA).

The national awards recognize the highest ethical and communications standards, conservation of natural resources and mentors for the next generation of professional outdoor communicators.

Arizona Game and Fish’s video segment “Pull" won the President’s Choice Award for video of the year and took first place in the shooting sports competition. “Pull,” produced by Gary Schafer, highlights the Scholastic Clay Target Program that offers young men and women in grades 12 and under the opportunity to compete as a team in skeet, sporting clays and trap for state and national championships, as well as college scholarship money. This was the first year of Arizona's Scholastic Clay Target Program, and it already has more than 400 young participants and more than 90 certified instructors.

Game and Fish also swept the conservation/environment category, which recognizes excellence in communicating issues and answers that affect conservation and the environment, with the following videos:
* First place: “Fossil Creek” Carol Lynde, Producer; One chapter in Arizona history ended and another began when the Arizona Public Service Company discontinued operations at two historic hydroelectric power plants and allowed natural water flows to resume their journey down 14 miles of Fossil Creek.
* Second Place: “Onery the Eagle” Gary Schafer, Producer; A young bald eagle that was driven from its nest by aggressive bees goes through four months of rehabilitation and is released back into the wild. 
* Third Place: “Tres Rios Beaver” Gary Schafer, Producer; An area just west of Phoenix is being developed into a wildlife paradise; rivers and desert are being converted into an area where people can go to see and hear wild animals of many species. One part of the Tres Rios project involves the management of the beaver population in the area. 

The 13-episode season of “Arizona Wildlife Views” airs on PBS channels KAET TV 8, Phoenix and KUAT TV 6, Tucson. For more information on what shows are airing next and on the team that produces the show, visit azgfd.gov.  For more information on OWAA, visit the organization’s Web site at owaa.org.

Wellton-Mohawk Irrigation District receives national conservation award
A 2005 North American Waterfowl Management Plan Committee Great Blue Heron Award was accepted by Charles W. Slocum, general manager of the Wellton-Mohawk Irrigation and Drainage District, at the Arizona Game and Fish Commission meeting in Phoenix.

The award was originally accepted on the district’s behalf in March by Game and Fish Department Director Duane Shroufe during the celebration of the plan’s 20th anniversary  in Columbus, Ohio.

The Great Blue Heron Award recognizes the district’s ongoing partnership with Arizona Game and Fish in the active management and development of the 600-acre Quigley Wildlife Area, just south of Tacna. The district’s continued and wide-ranging support has made Quigley – the largest and most biologically significant wetland complex on the lower Gila River – a wildlife haven, providing habitat for waterfowl, shorebirds, sandhill cranes, upland game birds, and such sensitive species as the Yuma clapper rail and southwest willow flycatcher. 

The North American Waterfowl Management Plan Committee is an international body that was established in response to record low waterfowl populations in the mid-1980s. It provides leadership and oversight for the activities undertaken in support of the tri-nation North American Waterfowl Management Plan. Representatives from the United States, Canada, and Mexico coordinate on major, long-term international waterfowl issues and make recommendations to their respective national wildlife agencies.  
  
The committee’s Great Blue Heron Award is presented annually to recognize organizations and individuals whose actions have resulted in substantial, long-term benefits to waterfowl and other wetland-associated migratory bird populations.


 
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