|Wildlife News - Nov. 20, 2008|
Nov 20, 2008
Public input is being sought to determine the extent and variety of issues that should be addressed by the draft environmental assessment.
Written comments can be sent to either:
All comments must be submitted in writing no later than 5 p.m. on Dec. 19.
There are also two remaining open houses (one was already held in Pinetop on Nov. 17) that will give the public the opportunity to ask questions and submit written comment. The open houses are scheduled for:
Arizona’s natural fish fauna historically consisted of 36 species of fish, only a few of which were traditionally sought by early Americans for sport fishing, which is a trend that continues today.
Since the early 1900s, the Arizona Game and Fish Department and other agencies have supplemented recreational angling opportunities by stocking state waters with sport fish species.
“Fish stockings have evolved over the past 100 years or so to meet growing needs of anglers in Arizona,” says Dave Weedman, aquatic habitat program coordinator for the Arizona Game and Fish Department. “Now we consider a wide range of factors when determining where and when to stock fish, including biology, angler use, partnership commitments and needs, native fish impacts and social demands.”
The stocking program in Arizona is supported with federal funds through the Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Program, along with state funds from the sale of licenses and trout stamps.
Recreational angling in Arizona totaled 4,156,000 angling days in 2006, creating a statewide economic impact of more than $1.1 billion annually.
For more information, visit www.azgfd.gov/fishea.
Applicants can obtain draw results for spring turkey, javelina, buffalo and bear hunt tags by providing a department ID Number (usually the applicant's Social Security number) and date of birth. Draw results are also available by telephone at (602) 942-3000 (press 2).
Game and Fish officials said that hunt permit-tags will be mailed out to successful applicants no later than Dec. 5. Unsuccessful or rejected applicants will have their refund mailed out by Nov. 28.
For those individuals who were unsuccessful in the 2009 spring draw or did not submit an application, don’t despair – there are remaining tags for spring javelina, turkey and bear. Applications for more than 9,000 javelina tags, more than 250 turkey tags, and just over 70 tags for spring bear hunts will be accepted by mail only on or after 8 a.m. (MST) on Dec. 1, 2008. For a detailed listing of leftover permits, visit www.azgfd.gov/draw or call (623) 236-7702.
For those who qualify, there are military hunts available for Fort Huachuca. Call (520) 533-2549 for additional information.
Hunters are reminded that spring turkey tags for juniors-only can be purchased over-the-counter. Also available over-the-counter are archery-only javelina tags for hunts in metro units. Both of these tags can be purchased at any department office or license dealer.
The loan was orchestrated by the Arizona Game and Fish Department and the zoo as a way to provide needed medical care to the animal. Illegally captured, the jaguar damaged its canine teeth while in an inadequate enclosure, which precludes it from ever being returned to the wild. The Phoenix Zoo agreed to provide the necessary dental surgery.
“The arrival of this jaguar in Arizona is exciting for so many reasons,” said Arizona Game and Fish Department International and Borderlands Program Manager, Francisco Abarca. “Not many people realize that the jaguar is native to the United States, so to work in cooperation with Mexico and the Phoenix Zoo to bring it here provides us with an important chance to learn more about a virtually unstudied population segment of the species.”
Biologists will also be conducting DNA studies on the cat during its stay to learn more about the population segment that uses southern Arizona and New Mexico as the northern extent of its range. Biologists will be observing the animal to learn more about how it varies from individuals in other population segments and the different adaptations it may have assumed for its own habitat range.
“We are very excited to be able to continue to play a role in the important efforts of the Jaguar Conservation Team,” says Phoenix Zoo President/CEO Norberto J. (Bert) Castro. “Obviously, our first priority is the health and well-being of this animal. While the jaguar’s medical issues are being addressed by our veterinarians, Phoenix Zoo guests will have the opportunity to see this magnificent cat up-close as it serves as an ambassador for all jaguars left in the wild. They’ll also be able to gain a better understanding for jaguars’ plight in the wild through our interpretive information.”
The Jaguar Conservation Team was established in Arizona and New Mexico in 1997 to protect and conserve the species. The group began working with Mexico two years later, realizing that the United States jaguar population depends on the conservation of the species in Mexico.
For more than 20 years though, the Game and Fish Department has been cooperating with Mexico on an international borderlands conservation program that has resulted in the return of several species to the state, including Gould’s turkey, Yaqui fish, desert pupfish and an expanded population of Sonoran pronghorn.
Jaguars once ranged from southern South America through Central America and Mexico and into the southern United States. By the late 1900s, jaguars were thought to be gone from the U.S. landscape, but two independent sightings in 1996 confirmed that jaguars still used Arizona and New Mexico as part of the northern most extent of its range.
The species has been protected outside of the United States under the Endangered Species Act since 1972. 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 are the only cat in North America that roars. They prey on a variety of mammals, fish, birds and reptiles. Individuals in the northern population weigh between 80-100 pounds. Females breed year-round and have litters of one to four cubs that stay with their mother for nearly two years.
Partners involved in the effort to bring the captive jaguar to Arizona include Game and Fish, the Phoenix Zoo, Sonora Commission for Ecology and Sustainable Growth (CEDES by its Spanish acronym), Mexico Wildlife Service (DGVS by its Spanish acronym), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Carnivore Working Group of Sonora led by Naturalia, a non-profit Mexican conservation group.
The project is made possible by the Heritage Fund and Indian gaming revenue. Started in 1990, the Heritage Fund was established by Arizona voters to further conservation efforts in the state including protecting endangered species, educating our children about wildlife, helping urban residents to better coexist with wildlife and creating new opportunities for outdoor recreation. Funding comes from Arizona Lottery ticket sales.
By all indications, this should be one of the better late dove seasons. So be sure to pick up plenty of extra shotgun shells and mark your calendar for Friday, Nov. 21 for the return of dove hunting.
There is nothing better than hitting a water tank a few hours before sunset for some fantastically fast and furious action. Fall temperatures are cool and refreshing, compared to the hot and humid early dove season in September. Sunsets during this time of the year are unmatched. Hunters can slow the pace of the daily grind by enjoying the glowing oranges and reds while taking a few birds on the wing for the grill.
“The second season is good for a number of reasons: the weather is fantastic, there are fewer crowds, and quail and rabbit seasons are open too - offering a mixed bag,” said Mike Rabe, migratory bird specialist for the Arizona Game and Fish Department. “Surprisingly, a very small percentage of early season dove hunters go out in the late season. Those that choose not to go are really missing out on a great opportunity and an abundant resource.”
The season runs from Nov. 21 into the new year, ending Jan. 4, 2009. However, in order to hunt in 2009, you will need a 2009 hunting license. Your migratory bird stamp is valid for the entire 2008-09 season if you have it from hunting the early dove season in September. Licenses can be obtained at any department office or license dealer.
The daily bag limit is 10 mourning doves. White-winged doves are not open, nor are they typically found in the state during the winter months. However, in some areas bordering rural communities or near agricultural areas, hunters may encounter Eurasian collared-doves; there is no limit on these birds, but it is required to leave one feathered wing until you reach your final destination for identification (on both species). Eurasian doves are large (bigger than a white-wing) and excellent eating.
“Late season dove is always good,” adds Rabe. “There are fewer hunters, and fewer hunters means more room for those of us who venture out. Because the second season allows for afternoon hunting, there is more flexibility for a morning and evening hunt.”
Shooting hours are one half-hour before sunrise until sunset – statewide. The best times to hunt are right before sunrise and about 1-2 hours before sunset, making this hunt convenient and accommodating for busy schedules. Start your day a little early before going to work to get into a quick flight of birds. Conversely, work through lunch and leave early to get to a local stock tank and finish off the day with wingshooting and a sunset. Either way, late season dove offers a link to the outdoors and an Arizona tradition.
For tips on where and how to hunt dove, visit www.azgfd.gov/artman/publish/article_1024.shtml and scroll down the page. For more hunting information, including downloadable regulations and the small game outlook, visit www.azgfd.gov/hunting.
The San Pedro River begins in Mexico and flows north to meet the Gila River, near the town of Winkelman, Arizona. It is nationally renowned for its natural diversity and its support of migrating birds. About 250 species — including 1 to 4 million migrating songbirds — rely on the river and its streamside habitat annually as they move between wintering grounds in Mexico and Central America and breeding grounds in the United States and Canada. The river also provides habitat for approximately 80 species of mammals and reptiles, including the endangered southwestern willow flycatcher and Huachuca water umbel.
The property was purchased with funding received from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Section 6 Endangered Species Recovery Land Acquisition Grant Program and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. The latter is part of the foundation’s $13 million grant to The Nature Conservancy to support state wildlife action plans across five Rocky Mountain states – Arizona, Colorado, Montana, New Mexico and Wyoming.
“Acquisition of this property is critical for the protection of adjacent aquatic and riparian habitat along the Upper San Pedro River, and it is a key step towards conserving several endangered and threatened species, including the southwestern willow flycatcher, Chiricahua leopard frogs and Gila topminnow,” said Bob Broscheid, assistant director of wildlife management for the Arizona Game and Fish Department. “The type of habitat found on the property supports among the highest known nesting bird density of any habitat in North America, so protecting it is important for preserving species diversity and providing connectivity corridors between habitats.”
Patrick Graham, state director of The Nature Conservancy in Arizona, adds, “This project is a great example of how public agencies, non-profits, public funding and private funding sources such as the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation can work together to accomplish tremendous feats to conserve a vital natural water source such as the San Pedro River.”
According to Steve Spangle, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Arizona field supervisor, the river’s future requires these types of collaborative efforts. “The San Pedro River is under tremendous pressure as it faces increased human water demands, drought and climate change. Only by working together, with common goals, can we overcome these odds to ensure the health of the river for people and nature for generations to come.”
This property, commonly referred to as the Yarbrough property, is part of the historic Clinton Ranch, which at one time included much of the land along the Upper San Pedro in the Palominas, Arizona, area. It is adjacent to the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Riparian National Conservation Area on one side and to a 910-acre parcel that is protected by BLM under a conservation easement.
A link to information on the new laws, including answers to some “Frequently Asked Questions,” can be found on the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Web site at www.azgfd.gov/ohv.
Here are some important facts you’ll need to know:
The goal of the new regulations is to provide better OHV management and protection of natural resources while maintaining access.
For more information, go to www.azgfd.gov/ohv.
The first trout stocking of the season took place Nov. 13. From now through mid March, about 12,000 trout from Colorado will be stocked every two weeks in the department’s designated 21 Urban Fishing Program lakes.
“In these challenging economic times, it’s terrific to have enjoyable fishing close to home that also provides healthy low calorie meals – rainbow trout,” said Eric Swanson, Urban Fisheries Program manager for the Arizona Game and Fish Department.
The urban lakes have also been recently stocked with channel catfish, feisty hybrid sunfish and largemouth bass. “This is the time of year when you can catch almost anything; trout, catfish, sunfish and bass, possibly all on the same day in the urban program waters,” Swanson said.
Youth under age 14 can fish for free, but those 14 and older must have an urban fishing license. Information on licenses, where to fish and other aspects of the Urban Fishing Program can be found at www.azgfd.gov/urbanfishing.
You can also get a great deal right now for the remaining six weeks of this year – the 2008 urban licenses are half price ($9.25) during November and December for both residents and nonresidents alike.
“The urban fishing license is especially good deal for winter visitors – they get the same price as resident anglers,” Swanson noted.
Two ranch improvement projects conducted in early November as part of the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Adopt-A-Ranch Program illustrate how various groups can come together in a win-win for private landowners, the recreating public and wildlife conservation.
The Adopt-A-Ranch Program is a cooperative effort between Game and Fish, landowners and volunteers across the state to complete projects that improve ranch land while enhancing wildlife habitat or recreational access for the public. The program has helped relations between landowners and people who wish to recreate on those private lands.
On Nov. 8, 18 volunteers from the Arizona Trail Riders Club (ATR), eight people from the Williams Family Ranch, and personnel from Game and Fish worked together to install a culvert on the Constellation Road at Slim Jim Wash north of Wickenburg, Ariz.. The road, mainly used by ranchers, is an access point to many hunting and recreational areas.
During the heavy rains of 1993, the wash severely cut the road; since then, traffic has detoured down into the wash. With the culvert installed, the roadbed can be built back up to its original level, eliminating the hole that vehicles were forced to drop down into and then climb back out of. The culvert will protect the road from future storms and enhance vehicular access for the ranchers and the public.
This is the second annual Adopt-A-Ranch project the ATR has done on the Williams Family Ranch, owned and operated by Roy and Carrol Williams. The work done by the dirt bike riders club has not only benefited the Williams Family Ranch but also neighboring ranches and the public.
A second Adopt-A-Ranch project occurred on Nov. 9, when an off-highway vehicle club from Sierra Vista helped repair a windmill, install two gates, and build onto a corral at the Lucky Hills Ranch, near Tombstone.
Funding for the Arizona Game and Fish Department Adopt-A-Ranch programs and projects comes from the Heritage Fund, which was established in 1990 by Arizona voters to further conservation efforts in the state. Funding for the Heritage Fund comes from Arizona Lottery sales.
If you are a landowner who would like to participate in the Adopt-A-Ranch program, or a volunteer group that would like to help out, contact Troy Christensen at the Arizona Game and Fish Department at (623) 236-7492 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
A new pair of Mexican wolves is now roaming the White Mountains of eastern Arizona as part of the reintroduction of this endangered species to the region. Last week, wildlife biologists placed the pair in a temporary holding pen for acclimation to their new home range near Middle Mountain on the Apache National Forest in northern Greenlee County. The pair, called the Moonshine Pack, consists of a male and female wolf that formed a pair bond while together in captivity.
Arizona Game and Fish Department officials confirm the pair chewed their way out of the nylon mesh, low-impact acclimation pen within 12 hours of being placed there on Nov. 17. Chris Bagnoli, the department's wolf project field team leader, reports the animals are now free-ranging and appear to be doing well.
"The objective of this release is to augment the breeding wild wolf population and also to increase the genetic diversity of the current population,” says Bagnoli. “The Moonshine Pack joins 12 other packs now living in the wild in Arizona and New Mexico. We hope this pack will contribute to the breeding population as soon as next spring.”
The release site, about 10 miles southwest of Alpine, Ariz., has a signed, public closure surrounding it, ordered by the USDA Forest Service, to protect the wolves from disturbance. The actual closure area is less than one square mile in size. The closure will remain in effect while the wolves adjust to the area and will be lifted by Nov. 27.
“This release is one aspect of the overall activities involved in the Mexican Wolf Reintroduction Project,” adds Bagnoli. “Project personnel also conduct wolf population monitoring, public outreach and education, and coordination with other cooperating agencies. We have worked to develop cooperative projects and agreements with affected stakeholders in the area to proactively manage any potential wolf-related depredations. We are optimistic that we can work together with residents and private property owners on the landscape to achieve mutual goals related to the reintroduction project.”
The 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. Additional releases have occurred in subsequent years.
The reintroduction of the Mexican wolf is a cooperative, multi-agency effort of the Arizona Game and Fish Department, New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, White Mountain Apache Tribe, USDA Forest Service and USDA-APHIS Wildlife Services.
The current backwater site selection effort includes areas along the Colorado River, from the Reclamation Cibola Gage (River Mile 87.3) to the Northerly International Boundary (River Mile 23.1), which is known as LCR MSCP Reaches 5 and 6. A future effort will be made to conduct backwater site selection for LCR MSCP Reaches 3 and 4, which span from Davis Dam (River Mile 276) to the Reclamation Cibola Gage (River Mile 87.3).
The program is one of the nation’s largest partnerships for the restoration of riparian, marsh and backwater habitats and has a steering committee consisting of more than 20 state and federal agencies (including the Arizona Game and Fish Department), cities, water districts and other affected parties in Arizona. The Bureau of Reclamation is the lead implementing agency for the program.
As part of the LCR MSCP, the Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) is tasked with creating or restoring a total of 360 acres of backwater habitat along the Lower Colorado River, between the Davis Dam and the Mexico Border, to provide refuge for three native and endangered fish - razorback sucker, bonytail, and flannelmouth sucker. The program has a priority of designating approximately half of the backwater acreage (180 acres) on the California side of the river, with the remaining acreage on the Arizona or Nevada sides.
In an effort to provide a voice for Arizonans and at the request of Reclamation, the Arizona Game and Fish Department (Department) met with and solicited initial input from civic leaders, angling groups, and hunting clubs to assist Reclamation in selecting potential candidate sites that would result in minimum conflict and impact. The recommendations from those public meetings are available at the Department’s Web site at www.azgfd.gov/lcrmscp. Additional informational meetings with potentially affected parties are anticipated, as the selection process proceeds.
Although Department recommendations will be considered by Reclamation, backwater site selection is still predicated on the biological needs of meeting the overall goal of the recovery of endangered species as required under the Endangered Species Act. To the extent practicable, priority in selecting backwaters will be given to choosing sites which minimize conflicts with recreational uses.
To date, the establishment of Imperial Ponds backwaters on the Imperial National Wildlife Refuge represents approximately 80 of the 180 acres for Arizona. The project area is within a portion of the refuge known as the Intensive Management Area. The entire area has been restricted from public access for many years and will have no effect on recreational users or sport fishing opportunity.
The next backwater being considered in the conceptual habitat creation planning is Headquarters Lake (A59.7), approximately 18.2 acres. This backwater is also within a portion of the refuge which is closed to the public, and therefore would have no effect on recreational uses. The current conceptual planning efforts involve significant expansion of this backwater, which would result in 25-40+ acres of backwater acreage for the program.
Additional potential candidate backwater selections include an unnamed lake (A49.2 - approximately 10.1 acres) and Secret Lake (A62.3 - approximately 11.2 acres), commonly referred to as “Clear Lake” by local anglers. However, no work beyond the conceptual habitat creation plan has been committed to Secret Lake pending further analysis. Reclamation is currently seeking two additional sites within Reaches 5 and 6 to add to this process.
The LCR MSCP anticipates a draft final report of the conceptual plans for the enhancement of Headquarters Lake (A59.7) and Secret Lake (A62.3) available for public review and comments by early December. The public will have 30 days to comment on this draft report. The report will be available at www.lcrmscp.gov/worktasks/conservationareas/E15/index.html.
For complete history and report information about the LCR MSCP, visit the Bureau of Reclamation’s Web site at www.lcrmscp.gov.
To keep up to date on Arizona-specific LCR MSCP issues, visit the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Web site at www.azgfd.gov/lcrmscp.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is asking the public for input on what types of recreational uses and road access should be taken into consideration for future management of the “Table Mesa Recreation Area,” located about 35 miles north of Phoenix between I-17 and the northeast end of Lake Pleasant.
The input will assist the BLM in development of a Recreation Activity Plan/Travel Management Plan and Environmental Assessment.
Written comments can be submitted from now through December 20 via e-mail to AZ_PDO_Routes@BLM.gov.
One remaining public meeting to provide information will be held this evening (Thursday, Nov. 20) in Anthem at the Anthem Community Center, 41130 North Freedom Way.
For more information, visit the BLM’s Web site at www.blm.gov/az and click on the Table Mesa link under “In the Spotlight,” or call Project Manager Tom Bickauskas at (623) 580-5502.