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  July 26, 2006 - Wildlife News

Wildlife News
Jul 26, 2006

  • Big game hunt draw complete: Results available
  • Game and Fish Commission to set the spring hunts
  • Game and Fish assumes control of Ben Avery Clay Target Center
  • Arizona youth teams have strong showing at national skeet and sporting clays championships
  • Game and Fish director named outstanding conservationist of the year
  • Exceptional year for Arizona's eagles
  • Hummingbird event scheduled at Sipe Wildlife Area
  • Fish Arizona! campaign receives Governor's tourism award
  • Five elected to Arizona Outdoor Hall of Fame
  • Arizona Game and Fish photo contest deadline nears
  • Arizona Game and Fish offers 2007 Heritage grants
  • Environmental review process improves in Arizona
  • Carbon monoxide tragedies preventable

Big game hunt draw complete: Results available
The 2006 fall big game hunt draw is complete, and applicants can now find out if they have been drawn by visiting the Arizona Game and Fish Department's Web site at azgfd.gov/draw.

The department received more than 256,000 applications for the draw, about 30,000 more than last year.

Game and Fish officials said that hunt permit-tags will be mailed out to successful applicants by July 28.

Any tags remaining from the draw process will be available on a first-come, first-served process. Game and Fish officials said hunters should be aware that the first-come process has been modified for fall hunts this year. The department will begin processing first-come permits on Aug. 11, starting at 8 a.m. The online application process will not be used for first-come. Applications will be accepted by mail only. Send the applications to P.O. Box 52002, Phoenix, AZ 85072-2002.

The first-come permit system allows individuals to apply for any leftover big game hunt permit-tags not issued during the normal fall or spring drawing process.
The big game draw is a lottery-style process for allocating the limited number of Arizona big game hunting permits to applicants.

Game and Fish Commission to set the spring hunts
The Arizona Game and Fish Commission will meet in Flagstaff on Aug. 11-12 to set the spring hunt seasons and the fall-winter waterfowl seasons.
 
The commission meeting will be held at the Radisson Woodlands Hotel at 1175 W. Route 66, Flagstaff, starting at 8 a.m. The commission will address the spring and waterfowl hunting seasons during the Saturday portion of the two-day agenda. The commission will establish the seasons and season dates, bag and possession limits, permit numbers and open areas for spring turkey, javelina, buffalo and bear, and for fall-winter waterfowl hunts. For more information, review the entire agenda here.

Game and Fish Department to assume operation of Ben Avery Clay Target Center in September
The Arizona Game and Fish Department has announced plans to assume operation of the Ben Avery Clay Target Center after the current lease arrangement with a private operator expires on Sept. 17.

The clay target center provides a recreational venue for skeet, trap and sporting clays shotgun shooters and is on the property of the 1,600-acre Ben Avery Shooting Facility, which is owned by the Arizona Game and Fish Commission and administered by the Arizona Game and Fish Department. The department operates the other shooting ranges at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility, located at the northwest corner of I-17 and Carefree Highway in Phoenix.

"We're very excited to have this opportunity," says Dana Yost, the department's assistant director for information and education. "The clay target center has a significant role to play in recreational shooting and in development of our youth programs, such as the Scholastic Clay Target Program. The center has huge potential, and our goal is to one day turn it into the finest trap, skeet and sporting clays facility in the country."

The department received direction at the monthly public meeting of the Arizona Game and Fish Commission in June to move forward with planning to take over operation of the clay target center at the end of the current vendor's lease agreement.

"The commission ultimately decided that the interests of the local shooting community would be best served by having the department run the clay target center," says Yost. "The center will remain open during the transition to new management, and we don't plan on any interruption in service."

The Arizona Game and Fish Department supports shooting sports programs, firearms safety, hunter safety and shooting range development, in addition to its wildlife management and conservation responsibilities.

Arizona youth teams have strong showing at national skeet and sporting clays championships
Arizona teams captured one national title, two second-place finishes and a third place at the Scholastic Clay Target Program (SCTP) skeet and sporting clays national championships July 15-16 at the Rochester Brooks International Trap and Skeet Club in Rochester, N.Y.

A record 18 states were represented at the event, producing the highest attendance in its six-year history. Nearly 220 youths competed in skeet and 170 in sporting clays.

Arizona teams, in only their second year of national competition against other state champions, had an excellent showing. The Ben Avery Clay Crushers, with squad members Wesley Borie, 13, and Lane Shank, 14, of Phoenix, and Brett Hoeppner, 14, of Cave Creek, won the junior novice division (grades 6-8) in the skeet championships. They also finished second in the sporting clays championships.

The Red Mountain Target Terminators (Hayden Edgmon, 15, Queen Creek; Kyle Wandelear, 15, Queen Creek; Justin Williams, 15, Gilbert) took second place in the senior novice division (grades 9-12) in skeet, while the Huachuca Hot Shots (Brielle Eaton, 16, Sierra Vista; Brisden Eaton, 18, Sierra Vista; Scott Usry, 16, Hereford) finished third in the senior novice division in sporting clays.

"We're very proud of the way our kids performed," says Anthony Chavez, shooting sports coordinator for the Arizona Game and Fish Department. "Some of these youngsters have made real strides in competitive shooting. They had a lot of fun and turned in a great showing."

Arizona's skeet and sporting clays squads won the right to represent the state at the nationals based on their performances at the Arizona Game and Fish Department's Commissioners' Cup state competition in March and April. Arizona's trap champions will represent the state at the SCTP national trap championships Aug. 8-9 in Sparta, Ill.

Arizona's SCTP is sponsored by the Arizona Game and Fish Commission and administered by the Arizona Game and Fish Department. The national SCTP is sponsored by the National Shooting Sports Foundation in collaboration with the Amateur Trapshooting Association, the National Skeet Shooting Association and the National Sporting Clays Association.

More than 800 kids-double last year's number-participated in Arizona's SCTP program this year. Nationally, more than 8,000 kids from 41 states participate.

For a list of results, visit the Arizona Game and Fish Department's Web site at azgfd.gov.

Game and Fish director named outstanding conservationist of the year
Arizona Game and Fish Director Duane Shroufe was recognized as the outstanding professional conservationist of the year by the Arizona Wildlife Federation during its annual banquet on July 15.

Director Shroufe was presented with the Thomas E. McCullough Memorial Award, which is the most prestigious annual award given by the Arizona Wildlife Federation. There are two categories for the award: professional and non-professional.

The professional category award is given to those who have contributed above and beyond their normal duties to the promotion of wildlife and natural resources conservation in Arizona.

At the banquet, Shroufe was presented the award by former Game and Fish Commissioner Tom Woods, who said Arizona is fortunate to have one of the longest tenured wildlife department directors in the nation.

"Under Duane's guidance, the department has grown and matured over the years. We're lucky to have him," Woods said.

Shroufe came to the Arizona Game and Fish Department in 1984 from Indiana, where he had worked for 17 years in various positions, including as the chief of wildlife. Shroufe began his career in Arizona as an assistant director at the Game and Fish Department. In 1989, he was appointed by the Game and Fish Commission as the department director.

Woods said Director Shroufe has made major contributions to wildlife conservation on the state, national and even international levels during his tenure as this state's wildlife director.

Exceptional year for Arizona's eagles
With the breeding season now over, Arizona can celebrate what's turning out to be an incredible year for the state's bald eagles. Arizona Game and Fish Department biologists confirm a record number of eagle breeding areas in the state, as well as a tie with the year 2004 for a record number of eaglets that lived to fledge, or begin flying, in Arizona.

"We are really excited at how this breeding season turned out," says James Driscoll, head of the Arizona Game and Fish Department Bald Eagle Management Program. "Forty-two eagle nestlings fledged this year, tying our previous record in this state."

Biologists also found three new bald eagle breeding areas, for a record total of 50. Every year, many eagle breeding areas that are located near popular recreation areas are closed for the breeding season, so the birds' breeding attempts won't be interrupted by human activity. On June 30, the last of these closures was lifted, at the end of a very successful breeding season.

"The success of the season can be partly credited to our fantastic nest watchers," says Kenneth "Tuk" Jacobson, an Arizona Game and Fish bald eagle biologist.

Every year, nest watchers camp out for four months to monitor eagle-breeding efforts in Arizona. The contractors spend dawn to dusk collecting data about the eagles' behavior and notifying rescuers of any life-threatening situations for the birds. Since the program began in 1978, it has helped to save the lives of almost 50 eaglets. This year alone, nest watchers helped to rescue and save four young eagles that otherwise might have died.

The bald eagle was federally listed as an endangered species in 1978. The birds have recovered enough to be listed now as a "threatened species."

Fourth annual hummingbird event scheduled at Sipe Wildlife Area
The Arizona Game and Fish Department is again offering a unique opportunity for people to learn more about Arizona's hummingbirds at the 4th annual High Country Hummers event. On Saturday, July 29, Sheri Williamson, one of the nation's foremost experts on hummingbirds, will conduct a capture and bird-banding event that is free and open to the public at the department's Sipe White Mountain Wildlife Area.

"This is a fantastic opportunity for people to get up close and personal with these flying jewels," says Bruce Sitko, spokesman in the department's Pinetop office. "We are quite fortunate to be able to get Sheri, who is the author of the 'Peterson Field Guide to Hummingbirds of North America,' to come to our part of the state to demonstrate her research."

The unique program will begin at 7:30 a.m. and conclude at 1 p.m. Observers will be able to interact with Williamson as they watch her capture, measure, weigh and band birds. They will also be able to use a stethoscope to hear a hummingbird's heart beat more than 200 times a minute.

Other fun programs will be offered at the wildlife area that day. There will be an exhibit featuring live hawks and owls. White Mountain Audubon Chapter members will lead a bird walk on one of the hiking trails on the Sipe property. Visitors can also view a slide presentation on hummingbird natural history. Plus, people are welcome to explore the visitor center's interpretive displays on wildlife, habitats, prehistoric culture and conservation.

"We encourage people to come prepared to spend most of the morning outdoors," says Sitko. "It's a good idea to bring your own food and water, as well as a camera and binoculars."

The Sipe Wildlife Area is located southeast of Eagar and Springerville. From Eagar, take Highway 191 toward Alpine for about two miles to the signed turnoff at the top of the first hill. Drive about five miles, on a dirt road suitable for passenger cars, to the Sipe property.

For more information on this special event, contact the Pinetop Game and Fish office at (928) 367-4281.

Fish Arizona! campaign receives Governor's tourism award
The Arizona Game and Fish Department's Fish Arizona! campaign, which reversed a decade-long decline in fishing license sales, received the Innovative Promotions Award during the Arizona Governor's Conference on Tourism on July 11.

The Innovative Promotions Award is presented to the organization that best demonstrates outstanding quality and creativity in planning and carrying out a promotion campaign.

"Getting this award is very gratifying. To us, the reward really highlights something we know well - wildlife-related activities from fishing to wildlife watching generate hundreds of millions of dollars annually to help fuel the economic engine of this state," says Dana Yost, the Information and Education Division assistant director for the Game and Fish Department.

The purpose of the Fish Arizona! campaign was to generate interest in fishing as a fun outdoor recreational activity among Arizona residents and visitors to the state, while also reversing the long-term decline in fishing license sales. It worked: fishing license sales from June to November in 2005 were 27-percent higher than the previous year.

"It really helps that we have a great product - this state's excellent year-round fishing. What else can you say except that fishing is great right now, so grab your fishing poles and go fish Arizona!" Yost says.

Arizona Outdoor Hall of Fame inducts five new members
The Arizona Outdoor Hall of Fame class of 2006 includes five inductees whose contributions and service have benefited Arizona's fish and wildlife and the habitats upon which they depend.

This major award and induction event was developed in 1998 by the Wildlife For Tomorrow Foundation to honor those who have made significant contributions to the preservation of Arizona's wildlife and are selected by the Board of Directors of the Wildlife For Tomorrow Foundation. Recognition is given annually to individuals and organizations that have worked consistently over many years through political and individual leadership, volunteer service, the mass media, environmental restoration and educational activities on behalf of Arizona's natural resources.

The newest class for induction includes:

  • Bonnie Swarbrick of Sasabe, an artist and educator who has fostered efforts to save wildlife and promote natural heritage as director of education and public programs at Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge;
  • Bill Quimby of Tucson, former outdoor editor for the "Tucson Citizen," a proponent of wildlife conservation and outdoor pursuits;
  • Richard "Dick" Brown of Flagstaff, an advocate for sport fish improvements and native fish conservation in Arizona;
  • Salt River Project, the nation's oldest multipurpose reclamation project founded on the principles of resource stewardship and wildlife habitat;
  • Phoenix Herpetological Society, a nonprofit organization dedicated to reptile education programs, relocation and rehabilitation.

The group will be honored at an induction banquet at 6 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 25 at the Scottsdale Resort and Conference Center in Scottsdale, Ariz. Tickets to the induction ceremony are $65 each and are available by writing the Wildlife for Tomorrow Foundation at 11875 W. McDowell Road # 2124, Avondale, AZ. 85323 or by calling the foundation at (623) 399-8721.

Wildlife for Tomorrow was created in 1990 to enhance the management, protection and enjoyment of Arizona's fish and wildlife resources. The foundation is an independent 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization that works closely with the Arizona Game and Fish Department to provide additional support for projects and education activities where traditional resources are not adequate. Wildlife for Tomorrow's efforts focus entirely on worthy projects within Arizona, and no funds are passed on to national offices or to projects in other parts of the country.

Arizona Game and Fish photo contest deadline nears
The deadline for the Arizona Game and Fish Department's first photo contest for its annual wildlife calendar is less than a week away.

Entries must be submitted to Game and Fish with an official entry form by Tuesday, 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.

"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 beauty of nature."

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

Arizona Game and Fish offers 2007 Heritage grants
Your child's school or your local park could be among those that benefit from next year's Arizona Game and Fish Department Heritage grants. Every year, the department makes hundreds of thousands of dollars available to applicants who have projects with a wildlife focus that otherwise might not receive funding. This is the time of year to apply for the money.

"We're pleased to award these grants to deserving projects every year," says Robyn Beck, the department's Heritage grant coordinator. "We want to help students, researchers, outdoor enthusiasts and ultimately all Arizonans to enjoy this funding."

The money comes from the voter-created Heritage Fund. The fund takes money from Arizona Lottery ticket sales and uses it for conservation efforts like protecting endangered species, educating our children about wildlife, helping urban residents coexist with wildlife, and creating new opportunities for outdoor recreation.

The department holds annual workshops for groups interested in applying for Heritage grants. This year's workshops will be held at the following times and locations:

1. Thursday, Aug. 10 at the Yuma regional Game and Fish office, 9140 E. 28th St., Yuma. (One session from 1 to 3:30 p.m.)

2. Wednesday, Aug. 16 at the Flagstaff regional Game and Fish office, 3500 S. Lake Mary Road, Flagstaff. (Choice of two sessions from 1 to 3:30 p.m. or from 5:30 to 8 p.m.)

3. Thursday, Aug. 17 at the Kingman regional Game and Fish office, 5325 N. Stockton Hill Road, Kingman. (Choice of two sessions from 1 to 3:30 p.m. or from 5:30 to 8 p.m.)

4. Tuesday, Aug. 22 at the Tucson regional Game and Fish office, 555 N. Greasewood Road, Tucson. (Choice of two sessions from 1 to 3:30 p.m. or from 5:30 to 8 p.m.)

5. Wednesday, Aug. 23 at the Graham County Health Annex, 820 W. Main St., Safford. (Choice of two sessions from 1 to 3:30 p.m. or from 5:30 to 8 p.m.)

6. Monday, Aug. 28 at the Pinetop regional Game and Fish office, 2878 E. White Mountain Blvd., Pinetop. (Choice of two sessions from 1 to 3:30 p.m. or from 5:30 to 8 p.m.)

7. Wednesday, Aug. 30 at the Phoenix Game and Fish office, Roadrunner Room, 2222 W. Greenway Road, Phoenix. (Choice of two sessions from 1 to 3:30 p.m. or from 5:30 to 8 p.m.)

Those planning to attend the workshops, and those wanting to learn more about eligibility for the grant money, should R.S.V.P. to Robyn Beck at (623) 236-7530. Potential grant recipients must have a project that is either located in Arizona or involves research in which the wildlife or its habitat is located in Arizona. More information on the grants and application forms can be found at the Arizona Game and Fish Department's Web site at azgfd.gov/heritage. The deadline for applications is Nov. 30.

Over the years, the Arizona Game and Fish Department has awarded a total of more than $10 million in grants to communities across the state. Arizonans can help raise money for the Heritage Fund every year, simply by buying Arizona Lottery tickets.

New online tool streamlines environmental review process in Arizona
A new online tool that shows if a proposed development project in Arizona could affect threatened or endangered animals and plants is now available from the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

The free, Web-based Arizona Online Environmental Review generates a list of special-status species potentially affected within a project area, a process that used to take weeks, but now takes only minutes.

"This tool can save land use planners, developers, environmental consultants and project managers time and money, since they'll be able to find out about potential conflicts before the start of planning and applying for environmental permits," says Sabra Schwartz, program supervisor for the Arizona Game and Fish Department's Heritage Data Management System. "It helps them plan to minimize impacts to special-status wildlife and habitat."

All land and water development projects in Arizona requiring federal environmental documentation, such as an environmental assessment or environmental impact statement, are submitted to the Arizona Game and Fish Department as part of the environmental review process. The department analyzes each project for special-status wildlife that may be affected. This includes species on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's endangered and threatened species lists, as well as those on the Arizona Game and Fish Department's "Wildlife of Special Concern" list.

"The initial review and generation of the species list for each development project used to take a month and involved a significant amount of department staff time," says Schwartz. "The Arizona Online Environmental Review tool, which is available on the Arizona Game and Fish Department's Web site 24 hours a day, seven days a week, provides the list in a matter of minutes."

The system sifts out "no-impact" projects that don't require any further evaluation, such as certain roadway resurfacing, cellular telephone tower or community development block grant projects, so they can proceed without delay. Larger projects requiring further evaluation also benefit because the initial report generated by the system helps satisfy Phase 1 (preliminary) evaluation and allows for quicker creation of biological assessments by the developer or land use planner.

"Filtering out projects that don't impact special-status species expedites them and allows us to focus on the detailed review required of larger projects," says Schwartz.

The Arizona Online Environmental Review is easy to use. Users can access the system on the department's Web site, azgfd.gov, by clicking on the "Online Environmental Review Tool" link on the home page. Users will need to establish a free account before logging into the system.

For more information about the Arizona Online Environmental Review, contact Sabra Schwartz, Arizona Game and Fish Department, at (623) 236-7618.

Carbon monoxide tragedies preventable
Authorities are investigating carbon monoxide poisoning as the cause of the near drowning of two people at Lake Pleasant in Maricopa County this past Sunday. This has prompted the Arizona Game and Fish Department to deliver a warning about this dangerous boating hazard. Since 1998, four people in Arizona have died from carbon monoxide-related watercraft incidents.

Carbon monoxide, or CO, is formed by incomplete combustion of any fuel, including gasoline, kerosene, wood, coal, oil, natural gas or charcoal. Sources on a boat include gasoline engines, generators, cooking ranges and space heaters.

"Carbon monoxide is a silent killer because it is an odorless, colorless gas," said Game and Fish Boating Safety Education Program Manager Ed Huntsman. "All boat engines produce carbon monoxide and boaters across the country are killed every year because of improper cabin ventilation, poorly maintained equipment and careless behavior."

Dangerous or deadly fumes can accumulate in confined spaces on boats, near stern ladders and under swimming platforms. Swimmers and water-skiers behind running boat engines face the greatest risk of exposure to exhaust fumes, which can build up to deadly levels. Boats emit up to 188 times the carbon monoxide that cars do.

Boaters should be aware of the threats posed by carbon monoxide and take the following steps to avoid them:

  • install a battery-powered carbon monoxide detector;
  • never operate watercraft at any speed or run idle under anchor while a person is occupying or holding onto the swim platform, swim deck, swim step or swim ladder;
  • schedule regular engine and exhaust system maintenance;
  • educate all passengers about carbon monoxide poisoning.

"You do not have to be inside the boat to be at risk," Game and Fish Boating Law Administrator Kevin Bergersen said. "Boaters have died from exposure on the swim platforms of their boats and in other areas where carbon monoxide exhaust may accumulate or be emitted. Be aware of the early symptoms like irritated eyes, headache, nausea, weakness and dizziness."

Several carbon monoxide deaths in the United States over the past several years have involved outdoor activities other than boating. Hunters and campers can be at risk of carbon monoxide exposure if they use portable heaters in enclosed spaces like campers and tents.

To learn more about how you can prevent carbon monoxide poisoning on recreational boats and other ways to stay safe, visit azgfd.gov.

 


 
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