Wildlife News - Dec. 18, 2008
Dec 18, 2008

  • 2009 antelope and elk regulations are available online
  • Thousands of wintering cranes create a wildlife spectacle
  • Michigan man assessed $14,995 for killing trophy elk near homes
  • Outdoor recreationists: Respect the land, or risk losing access
  • Public comment deadline on fish stocking issues ends Friday
  • Verde Valley man receives jail sentence for continued disregard of wildlife laws
  • Grants offered for public shooting range development
  • Want a free 2009 Wildlife Calendar?
  • Two more California condor chicks flying free at Grand Canyon
  • Reserve your spot at the Commission Awards Banquet
  • Make plans for a javelina hunt this spring; leftover tags available
  • Commission to hold its ‘09 meetings in Phoenix to save costs
  • Archery leagues for the New Year at Ben Avery Shooting Facility
  • Last-minute gift ideas from Game and Fish

2009 antelope and elk regulations are available online
Hunters can start submitting applications now

The 2009 Arizona Pronghorn Antelope and Elk Hunt Draw Information regulations booklet is available online at the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Web site at www.azgfd.gov/draw. Hunters interested in obtaining a hunt permit-tag via the draw process can start applying now.

All applications must be submitted by mail or hand-delivered to a department office – no online application process is available. Applications are due by 7 p.m. (MST) Feb. 10, 2009 – postmarks do not count.

To assist customers and reduce errors, a PDF application form can be filled out using a computer and keyboard, but must be printed, signed and submitted (along with the correct fees by check or money order) by mail, or by delivery to any department office. The form can also be printed and filled out using an ink pen.

Early applicants can take advantage of the “grace period”—those who submit an application by Jan. 22, 2009 will receive up to three calls from the department in a 24-hour period if an error is found on the application. If the applicant is reached by phone, the department will help fix the error to ensure a completed application.

Arizona Game and Fish Department officials said printed copies of the regulations should be available at license dealers across the state by mid-January.

For 2009, there are 26,474 elk tags available (a slight increase of 385 tags from last year), and 1,007 pronghorn-antelope tags available (a 1-permit increase from last year).

The elk over-the-counter nonpermit-tags for limited areas will continue to be offered in 2009. These tags are akin to a “limited opportunity” hunt in areas with very low elk populations. Hunters interested should thoroughly review the regulations and visit www.azgfd.gov/otc to download the “2009 Elk OTC Informational Handout” PDF for frequently asked questions, hunt area boundary descriptions, and area maps, before purchasing.

A 2009 hunting license is required to apply. Department officials encourage hunters to get their license before applying for an elk or antelope hunt permit-tag if they wish to do any other hunting in early 2009. Licenses purchased through the draw process will not be mailed out until April 24, 2009, regardless of application success.


Thousands of wintering cranes create a wildlife spectacle

If you crave one of Arizona’s most impressive winter wildlife spectacles, load up lots of camera memory, grab your trusty binoculars, and shepherd the family to the Sulphur Springs Valley of southern Arizona to witness thousands upon thousands of wintering sandhill cranes.

In fact, last year the large wetlands and vast agricultural areas located about 85 miles southeast of Tucson attracted a record 36,000-plus wintering sandhill cranes. And by all indications, the number of visiting sandhills is increasing each year.

Sandhill cranes are some of the largest migratory birds found in North America and can have wingspans of up to 6½ feet and can stand up to 47 inches tall. Wintering cranes can journey here from as far away as Siberia, although most migrate each winter to this southern Arizona valley from Canada and the Rocky Mountain region.

“This large flat valley, which includes the Willcox Playa, attracts one of the largest wintering concentrations of sandhill cranes in the Southwest,” said Mike Rabe, the migratory bird biologist with the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

The only area with more wintering cranes is the Muleshoe National Wildlife Refuge in West Texas, which has recorded up to a quarter-million visiting sandhills in the 1980s. Even the famed Bosque del Apache Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico along the Rio Grande Valley typically gets less than 7,000 wintering sandhills.

The December holidays provide a prime opportunity to visit southern Arizona to view these magnificent holdovers from the Pleistocene epoch. “Seeing thousands of these long-legged birds taking to the air simultaneously is a thrilling spectacle that can leave you awestruck,” Rabe said.

The two best places to view cranes are the Willcox Playa Wildlife Area and the Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area operated by the Arizona Game and Fish Department, especially at first and last light.

Each morning, the roosting cranes take to flight, which itself can be a spectacle, and then soar aloft to visit area grain fields. During the late afternoon, the cranes come soaring back – seemingly from all points of the compass – to roost in these large maintained wetlands in the state wildlife areas.

“During the day, vast numbers of sandhills can be found feeding in the extensive grain fields of the Sulphur Springs Valley, especially in the Elfrida area," Rabe advises.

The premier viewing location is probably the Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area between Bisbee and Elfrida. From Interstate 10, take Highway 191 south. The main entrance on Coffman Road is accessible either from Central Highway via Bagby Road, or directly from Davis Road one mile west of Central Highway. There are viewing platforms, bathrooms and a large parking area at this state wildlife area.

The Willcox Playa Wildlife Area is located seven miles south of Willcox. Take State Route 186 south to the Kansas Settlement Road, and then travel another five miles to the parking lot of the wildlife area. There is about a half-mile hike into Crane Lake.
  
The wintering sandhill cranes are also the centerpiece for an annual nature festival, Wings Over Willcox (Jan. 14-18, 2009), which is scheduled every year for the Martin Luther King holiday weekend.
  
If you would like more information on wintering sandhill cranes, be sure to get the January-February edition of the “Arizona Wildlife Views” magazine, which is featuring an article about three of the best viewing areas for these magnificent birds that winter here each year. In fact, if you give a gift subscription of the award-winning wildlife magazine as a present this holiday season, you will get a free $3 wildlife calendar (while supplies last). To order, just visit the Game and Fish Department’s Web site at www.azgfd.gov/magazine


Michigan man assessed $14,995 for killing trophy elk near homes

Michael J. Malik, a Michigan resident, appeared before the Arizona Game and Fish Commission at its December meeting in Casa Grande for shooting a trophy-quality, 7x7 bull elk too close to residential property without landowner permission.

 After hearing his statement, the commission voted to civilly assess Malik $14,995 for the state’s loss of the 408-point, velvet-antlered elk. The commission also revoked his hunting, fishing and trapping privileges in Arizona for five years, and he must successfully complete a hunter education course prior to having his license privileges restored.

The commission’s action to revoke Malik’s license for five years has far-reaching implications. Arizona is a member of the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact with 32 other states, including all western states and Malik’s home state of Michigan. Until his license privileges are restored in Arizona, he will not be able to legally hunt in any of those 32 states.

Malik paid $135,000 at an auction for Arizona’s 2006-07 “special” elk tag at a Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation annual convention. Special tag holders have the added privilege of pursuing their designated big game for one full year.

In the early hours of July 26, 2007, Malik, assisted by four companions, including Arizona elk guide John McClendon, shot, wounded and eventually killed the bull in a privately owned meadow in the Morgan Flat area east of Pinetop. While on patrol, the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s wildlife manager in Unit 3B, Shawn Wagner, heard the initial shot and responded to investigate. He found the Malik hunting party and wounded bull in close proximity to several occupied houses where the property owners were upset with Malik hunting and shooting near their homes.

Wagner determined the homeowners had not been approached nor had they granted permission for Malik to hunt on their property. Wagner seized the bull and cited Malik for shooting violations. Shooting a firearm within a quarter-mile of an occupied building while taking wildlife without permission from the owner is a Class 2 Misdemeanor.

After several pre-trial conferences and continuances, Malik was found guilty in the Pinetop Justice Court on Aug. 29, 2008, of discharging a firearm within the quarter-mile limit of occupied residences while taking elk. The criminal conviction authorized the commission to take civil action against Malik.

“This incident is more a private property and public safety violation than it is a wildlife crime. The court and commission decisions are a strong reminder to all hunters about the importance of hunter awareness and safety and respecting the rights of private property owners and rural residents,” says Jim Hinkle, law enforcement program manager at the department’s Pinetop office.

The department donated the edible portions of the elk carcass to Shepherd’s Kitchen, a charitable organization in Snowflake. The antlers and cape remain in custody of the department pending the outcome of an appeal to the Pinetop Justice Court decision by Malik.


Outdoor recreationists: Respect the land, or risk losing access

Recent incidents involving thoughtless and even destructive acts by outdoor recreationists have Arizona Game and Fish Department officials concerned about retaining continued public access to vast tracts of public and private land.

“We work cooperatively with landowners, especially ranchers, to keep access for recreation open,” said Sal Palazzolo, the Game and Fish Department’s Landowner Relations Program manager, “but it is a daunting task because senseless acts by a few thoughtless outdoor recreationists can jeopardize relations and result in large tracts of land being closed to us all.”

Palazzolo said some of the lands in question happen to be premier hunting areas where outfitters are sometimes willing to pay landowners thousands of dollars for exclusive access.

“We can’t do it all ourselves. We need the assistance of sportsmen and other conscientious recreationists to help curb these senseless acts,” Palazzolo said.

Here are some examples of what is happening.

Recently, a rancher in northern Arizona had closed a section of road across a stream because the road crossing had become washed out.

“One day this autumn, an elk hunter ignored the closure sign and promptly got his truck stuck in the creek,” Palazzolo said, “The rancher took it in stride and helped the individual contact a tow truck to haul the vehicle out.”

The following day, another person also ignored the closure sign and got stuck in the creek, but nobody was home at the remote ranch house. There was a bulldozer parked near the private residence that a contractor was going to use to repair the road crossing.

“Without any permission, the person who had gotten his vehicle stuck got into the bulldozer, fired it up, and pulled his truck out of the creek, causing damage to the fragile riparian area,” Palazzolo said. “We are still waiting to hear if the bulldozer was damaged in any way.”

That isn’t all.

On another ranch, a ranch hand had collected and displayed lots of deer and elk antlers over the years, and had actually made a fence of the antlers around his ranch house. While the cowboy was out working the range, someone stole all the prized antlers.

On yet another ranch, three men wearing camouflage clothing and riding all-terrain vehicles were seen shooting at a herd of grazing horses. Fortunately, these illegal road hunters didn’t hit anything.

Fences have been cut, windmills shot up and signs shot to doll rags. Trash and litter have been left to despoil the land. Vehicles have torn up cattle tanks and earthen dams.

These senseless acts and others are putting continued access for hunters, off-roaders, campers and other recreationists in danger – for many reasons.

For instance, one rancher in the area said it costs him about $5,000 annually to repair damage or address other issues associated with recreationists.

“Fortunately, this conscientious rancher still keeps working with us despite the fact he has been offered thousands of dollars by outfitters for exclusive hunting rights to his property,” Palazzolo said.

Incidents such as these concern the responsible majority of outdoor recreationists.

“I spend a lot of time working with ranchers and land managers on projects, and it’s disturbing to see some of the damage,” says longtime sportsman John Koleszar. “Some people do it willfully, but others just don’t know any better and need to be educated on respecting the land and property. Remember, ethics is what you do when no one is watching.”

These recent incidents also highlight a much broader issue facing outdoor recreationists.

Palazzolo pointed out that Arizona consists of about 72.6 million acres, of which 18 percent is privately owned. These lands represent important recreational opportunities as well as access corridors into other publicly owned lands.

Public access restrictions in Arizona have increased substantially over the last decade as more landowners exercise their right to deny access to or through their private lands. In many cases, access is prevented to State Trust and public lands as a result of these closures.

The seven most common reasons for landowners denying access are:

  • Vandalism
  • Trespassing
  • Littering
  • Off-road activities
  • Disruption of landowner operations
  • Liability issues
  • Undocumented immigrants and drug trafficking (Southern Arizona)

“We can’t be everywhere. Recreationists, especially hunters, need to be our eyes and ears out there, and also be ambassadors for conscientious recreational ethics on the land,” Palazzolo said.

If you see someone doing one of these senseless acts, contact local law enforcement or call our Operation Game Thief at 1-800-352-0700.

“The thing that worries me is that some people seem unaware of the potential consequences of their bad behavior,” says Koleszar. “If you don’t exercise good outdoor ethics and educate others to do the same, land management agencies and private property owners could close off access. It’s in the hands of the users to demonstrate they’re responsible—or they could lose it forever.”

Palazzolo adds, “The tract of public land you help keep open might just be your favorite hunting ground or maybe one of your favorite places to ride your quad. These lands belong to all of us, so help us help others to treat them that way.”


Public comment deadline on fish stocking issues ends Friday

If you have input on the social, economic or environmental effects of sport-fish stockings in Arizona, the deadline for written comments is 5 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 19.

Public input is being sought to determine the extent and variety of issues that should be addressed by a draft environmental assessment that will be prepared by the Arizona Game and Fish Department and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The environmental assessment process is required in order to continue using federal funding for stocking activities in Arizona.

Comments can still be sent by e-mail to fishaz@azgfd.gov until 5 p.m. Dec. 19.

Once the comment period ends, the wildlife agencies will prepare the draft environmental assessment to evaluate the social, economic and environmental effects of stockings related to continue federal funding for the program through the Sport Fish Restoration Program.

The federal funding apportioned to Arizona is authorized under the Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act of 1950, commonly referred to as the Dingell-Johnson Act and Wallop-Breaux Act. It provides federal aid to state wildlife agencies for management and restoration of sport fish. These Sport Fish Restoration funds are derived from a federal excise tax at the manufacturing level on certain items of sport-fishing tackle, fishing equipment and motor boat fuel.

For more information, including an overview of the scoping process, maps, proposed stocking locations, and facts about angling and sport-fish stockings in Arizona, visit www.azgfd.gov/fishea.


Verde Valley man receives jail sentence for continued disregard of wildlife laws

Benjamin Scott, a Verde Valley resident, was found guilty on Nov. 17 in the Prescott Justice Court for possessing an unlawfully taken mule deer and using another individual’s big game permit.

Due to Scott’s extensive history of wildlife violations, Yavapai County Deputy Prosecutor Eric English asked for a separate sentencing hearing, held Dec. 15.

After reviewing Scott’s previous wildlife convictions, Prescott Justice Court Judge Arthur Markham sentenced Scott to 10 consecutive days in jail, three years of unsupervised probation, $600 in jail fees, $250 for possession of an unlawfully taken mule deer, $250 for using another individual’s big game tag, and 40 hours of community restitution to be completed at a nonprofit organization.

For the past two years, Scott has been the focus of a long-term investigation by the Arizona Game and Fish Department and has recently received court fines in Coconino and Yavapai counties that totaled $4,220 for violations of wildlife laws.

In addition, Scott has had cases come before the Arizona Game and Fish Commission on seven occasions, and he has been civilly assessed a total of $7,000 for the loss of wildlife to the state of Arizona, and his hunting, fishing and trapping privileges have been suspended for a total of 38 years.

The commission’s action to revoke Scott’s license privileges has far-reaching implications. Arizona is a member of the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact with 32 other states and seven Canadian provinces. Until Scott’s license privileges are restored in Arizona, he will not be able to legally hunt in any of those states or provinces.

Scott will soon appear before the Arizona Game and Fish Commission for the Nov. 17 conviction, at which time the commission will vote on whether to civilly assess Scott up to an additional $8,000 for the state’s loss of the trophy mule deer and will also vote on whether to suspend Scott’s license privileges for an additional five years.  

Currently, Scott has one case pending in Yavapai County and, if convicted, may face an additional $1,500 assessment for the loss of wildlife to the state of Arizona and a loss of hunting, fishing and trapping privileges permanently.

Anyone having information pertaining to the unlawful take of wildlife or other violations of wildlife laws is urged to call the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Operation Game Thief toll-free hotline at 1-800-352-0700. Calls can remain confidential upon request, and callers may be eligible for cash rewards.


Grants offered for public shooting range development
Application deadline is Jan. 15, 2009

Shooting clubs, sportsmen’s groups and government agencies involved in the development, improvement or maintenance of public shooting ranges, including archery ranges, have an opportunity to apply for grant funds from the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

Grants are available through a competitive application process each year. The Arizona Game and Fish Commission determines how much money is available, but generally, the total is about $100,000. The maximum grant award is $50,000 per project. Privately owned and for-profit ranges are not eligible for this program.

“The program offers a number of benefits,” says Anthony Chavez, the department’s statewide shooting ranges administrator. “It helps provide shooting enthusiasts with safe public shooting areas, supports the department’s hunter education and youth programs, and supports law enforcement training.”

Examples of projects that could be eligible for funds include shooting range development and redevelopment, construction of noise abatement structures and safety berms, installation of shooting pads and stations, and construction or improvement of access roads and parking lots.

Grant funds are to reimburse eligible project expenditures up to 50 percent of the total cost. Grants can be matched with cash, with donated labor and materials, or with land. The range must have a history of operation of at least five years to be eligible for a grant, unless owned or managed by a government agency.

Applications will be judged by a panel of department employees based on various criteria, including how the project will increase public usefulness, improve range safety, and support firearms safety, the shooting sports, hunter education and law enforcement training. The Arizona Game and Fish Commission will determine final awards at its June 2009 meeting in Phoenix.

To download an application packet, visit www.azgfd.gov/shootingsports and click on the “range development grants” link on the left side of the page, or request a packet by contacting Anthony Chavez, statewide shooting ranges administrator, at (623) 236-7395 or aechavez@azgfd.gov.


Want a free 2009 Wildlife Calendar?

The 2009 Arizona Wildlife Calendar costs $3 each, but we have a special deal for people who enjoy Arizona Wildlife Views magazine. Give a gift subscription to the magazine to a friend or family member, and we’ll reward your generosity with a free calendar (while supplies last). Share Arizona Wildlife Views and get a little something back for yourself! Order online at www.azgfd.gov/magazine or by calling (800) 777-0015.


Two more California condor chicks flying free at Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon—a vast region of gorges and craggy spires so immense that it far exceeds the boundaries of any human definition of a park—is not just a spectacular landscape, but an ecosystem filled with prime wildlife habitat. As such, it is an important geographic focal point for the recovery of the endangered California condor. This year, two wild chicks hatched and fledged in Grand Canyon National Park, bringing the Arizona population close to 70 and the word’s total population (captive and free-flying) to well over 320.

While 70 and 320 may seem like dishearteningly small numbers, as recently as 1982 the world population was down to just 22 birds, and by 1987 the entire world’s remaining California condors were in captivity. Today, about half of the world’s condors are free-flying, and since recovery efforts began, nine chicks, including 2008’s two Grand Canyon chicks, have been hatched and fledged in the wild in Arizona.

California condors are North America’s largest flying land birds, with a wing span of over nine feet. They are primarily soarers, sometimes going for miles without a single flap of their wings. As a result, they prefer to live in areas with mountains, gorges, and hillsides which create updrafts and provide favorable soaring conditions. Condors also require caves, ledges or large tree cavities for nesting. The Grand Canyon area would seem to be perfect condor habitat, and evidence indicates that the birds did nest in the canyon for thousands of years. However, as climates changed after the last ice age and, more recently, as human impacts increased, the condor’s range shifted and numbers dwindled. The last wild condor in Arizona was sighted just south of the Grand Canyon in 1924.

It was not until reintroduction in northern Arizona began in 1996 that condors were once again seen flying over the Grand Canyon, and in 2003, Arizona’s first “wild-hatched” chick in over 100 years hatched in Grand Canyon National Park. The parents of that historic chick, condors 127F and 123M, were one of only two condor pairs to successfully hatch and fledge a chick in Arizona this year. Their chick, 472, was seen taking short flights at the canyon on Oct. 16.

The second chick, 476, belongs to first-time parents 133F and 187M. Its mother, condor 133F, has her own place in condor history. She is the last remaining bird from the initial Arizona condor release in 1996. Her chick was seen taking its first short flights in September.

Though it is further from the brink of extinction than it was a quarter century ago, the California condor’s long-term survival is far from assured. The birds are normally long-lived and don’t reach maturity until they are about six years of age. As a result, they are not prolific reproducers, usually only tending one egg every other year. Yet, they are regularly faced with threats such as lead poisoning from spent ammunition, predation, and accidental and intentional shooting.

The recovery plan for the California condor calls for the maintenance of three distinct condor populations—two in the wild and one in captivity—each having at least 150 members and including at least 15 breeding pairs of birds. There is a long way to go to reach that goal, but recovery efforts by committed organizations continue. The Peregrine Fund, Arizona Game and Fish Department, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are only a few of the many organizations that have banded together to work on condor recovery.

Each year, more and more people from around the world come to Grand Canyon National Park hoping, while they are here, to observe the majestic flight of the California condor. Here, rangers, wildlife biologists and volunteers have an opportunity to not only learn about condors, but to share what they are learning about the birds’ unique qualities, their needs, and what each of us can do to help protect them. Here, the spectacular landscape has become more than just ecosystem and habitat; it has become home to one of the world’s rarest birds, classroom to those who wish to learn about them, and a place where we can all learn to hope when two more California condor chicks hatch and fledge in the wild.

To learn more about California condors, the ongoing recovery effort, and what you can do, please visit the Arizona Game and Fish Department on line at www.azgfd.gov/condor
or the Peregrine Fund at www.peregrinefund.org/conserve_category.asp?category=California%20Condor%20Restoration.  To learn more about California condors in Grand Canyon National Park, please visit the park’s web site at www.nps.gov/grca/naturescience/california-condors.htm.


Reserve your spot at the Commission Awards Banquet

Don’t forget to make your reservation for the Arizona Game and Fish Commission's Annual Awards Banquet on Saturday, Jan. 17 at the Four Points by Sheraton Phoenix North, 10220 N. Metro Parkway East in Phoenix.

The banquet recognizes individuals and organizations that have contributed to Arizona's wildlife resources and the mission of the Arizona Game and Fish Department. The event begins at 5:30 p.m., followed by dinner and presentation of the commission awards.

Individual tickets are $50. Tables of 10 are $470 - a discount of $30. Organization sponsorships are available for $550 and include a table in the organization's name, recognition in the event media presentation and post-event press release, and five banquet tickets for the organization. Another five tickets will be donated, in that organization's name, to award recipients and guests.

To obtain a reservation form, visit www.azgfd.gov/inside_azgfd/commission_awards.shtml or contact Marty Fabritz at (623) 236-7281.


Make plans for a javelina hunt this spring
Plenty of first-come leftover permits available by mail application

When you are penciling in your commitments on your new 2009 calendar, look for an opening in January or February, and reserve some time to go javelina hunting.

There is quite a selection of spring tags remaining available on a first-come, first-served basis. As of Dec. 17, there are more than 6,000 javelina tags remaining.

Many of the tags are for hunting areas that offer good odds for success in some of Arizona’s finest country. Javelina hunting is exciting, challenging and occurs during some of the best weather for an outdoor adventure.

Javelina can be harvested by rifle, handgun, muzzleloader or bow and arrow, depending on hunt permit-tag type. The meat is excellent when handled and prepared properly. Favorite recipes include in-ground pit barbeque or processed into summer sausage or chorizo breakfast sausage.

Other spring hunting tags remaining include more than 20 turkey tags and approximately 30 archery-only bear tags.

To apply for a tag, a hunt permit-tag application must be submitted by U.S. mail only, to the Arizona Game and Fish Department, Drawing Section, P.O. Box 52002, Phoenix, AZ 85072-2002.

Applicants must include their 2009 license number on the application request. Additionally, junior hunters ages 10, 11, 12 and 13 are required to complete a certified hunter education class to participate in a big game hunt.

For a current list of remaining tags, PDF application, regulations and more, visit www.azgfd.gov/draw.


Commission to hold its ‘09 meetings in Phoenix to save costs

In an effort to reduce costs in the current economic climate, the Arizona Game and Fish Commission has decided to hold all of its regularly scheduled public meetings in 2009 at the Game and Fish Department headquarters in Phoenix.

The decision, made at the Dec. 6 commission meeting in Casa Grande, comes in the midst of a state budget deficit that has the commission and department taking a variety of measures to reduce costs. Game and Fish officials estimate the cost savings of this measure will be approximately $30,000 in site rental, travel and related costs.

The commission emphasized its commitment to being accessible and providing good customer service to the substantial wildlife constituent bases in other parts of the state, including Tucson, Yuma, Kingman, Flagstaff, Payson, the White Mountains and other areas.

“During these tough economic times, we are doing everything we can to reduce costs in order to continue to meet programmatic needs,” said Commission Chair Bill McLean. “However, this commission is committed to its constituents and their participation in our open meetings. We are looking into a number of options that will still allow folks to participate in these meetings - regardless of the meeting location.”

The commission currently rotates its monthly meetings (no meeting is held in July or November) among various locations throughout the state. For 2009, meetings previously scheduled for Pinetop, Flagstaff, Prescott, Casa Grande, Tucson and Yuma will now take place at the Phoenix headquarters at 5000 W. Carefree Highway.

 “We fully understand that all of Arizona’s citizens have an interest in wildlife conservation, not just residents in the Metro Phoenix area, and we want people from all parts of the state to be engaged,” McLean said. “But given the budget situation we’re facing and the availability of a large meeting facility at the department headquarters, we felt this action was necessary for 2009.”

For more information on the Arizona Game and Fish Commission and a schedule of commission meetings, visit www.azgfd.gov/commission under “schedule.”


Archery leagues for the New Year at Ben Avery Shooting Facility
Brackets offered for men, women and children

Finding a safe and challenging place to shoot your bow and arrow is getting tougher each year. To help archers keep their skills sharp, the Ben Avery Shooting Facility is offering an eight-week-long winter archery league starting Jan. 7, 2009.

Every Wednesday night under stadium lights on the FITA Range, shooters can safely shoot 3-spot or single targets at 20 yards. Archery classifications for men and women include compound unlimited, compound bow hunter and recurve/longbow. A junior class is also available for shooters ages 8-17 to encourage family participation.

Leagues run from Jan. 7 – Feb. 25, 2009. There will be a cookout and an awards banquet on March 11. The cost is $60 per adult and $30 for junior shooters. Registration fees are reduced for families. If one parent participates, each junior is only $20, and if both parents participate, each junior is only $10. Some introductory loaner bows (compound and recurve) are available.

Preregistration is required. To register or for more information, contact Mike Raum at (623) 582-8313 or mraum@azgfd.gov.


Last-minute gift ideas from Game and Fish

Running out of ideas for those last-minute holiday gifts and stocking stuffers? Here are some suggestions for the wildlife enthusiast in your family:

Arizona Wildlife Viewing Guide – Describes 128 unique viewing sites in Arizona and the wildlife found at them, accompanied by beautiful photographs. Available for $14.95 at the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s seven offices statewide and through the department’s Web site at www.azgfd.gov/publications.

Arizona Wildlife Views magazine subscription – Published bimonthly by the Game and Fish Department, the magazine offers a variety of articles on hunting, fishing, boating, wildlife viewing and conservation in Arizona, as well as “Focus Wild” children’s articles. Subscriptions are $8.50 per year. Order at www.azgfd.gov/magazine.

2009 Arizona Wildlife Calendar – Spectacular photos of Arizona’s wildlife, along with notes on key wildlife events and approved hunting and fishing season dates. A perfect stocking stuffer at only $3 each. Purchase at any Game and Fish office or at www.azgfd.gov/artman/publish/article_978.shtml.

2009 hunting or fishing license. Purchase a license for a family member of friend at any department office or license dealer. Prices start at $18.50 for an urban fishing license. A resident combination hunt and fish license is $54. For that special gift, consider a lifetime license. A complete description of license products is at www.azgfd.gov/eservices/licenses.shtml

Discount pass at Ben Avery Shooting Facility and gift certificates at Ben Avery Clay Target Center – The Ben Avery Shooting Facility offers an 11-visit “shooter’s pass” for $70 (normal fee for an all-day visit to the range is $7, so you get one day for free). The Ben Avery Clay Target Center offers gift certificates in any amount for trap, skeet and sporting clays shooting.

Donation to Adobe Mountain Wildlife Center – The Arizona Game and Fish Department’s rehabilitation center treats more than 1,000 sick and injured animals annually and provides wildlife education to local schools. For more information on making tax-deductible donations to support wildlife rehabilitation, visit www.azwildlifecenter.org or call (623) 587-0139.