Wildlife News - Jan. 29, 2009
Jan 29, 2009

  • Quail season ends Feb. 8
  • Ten tips when applying for elk and/or antelope hunting permits
  • Bikers soar to help sick and injured wildlife
  • New range offers great opportunities for West Valley target shooters
  • Stay engaged in federal land management planning efforts
  • Next commission meeting is Feb. 6-7 in Phoenix
  • Volunteers needed to clean up after desert “litterbugs”
  • Department is expanding efforts at upcoming ISE outdoor show
  • Join Game and Fish on a ferret-finding mission
  • Tres Rios Nature & Earth Festival scheduled for March 7-8 in Avondale
  • Make plans to attend the Game and Fish Outdoor Expo in March

Quail season ends Feb. 8

It’s been a long and fruitful season, but the end is near. When the sun sets on Sunday, Feb. 8 there will be eight long months before upland hunters can chase Arizona’s fabulous quail species again. The good news is, there is still a little time left to head out after them one more time.

“Towards the end of the season, smaller coveys congregate to make larger super coveys,” said Mike Rabe, small game management supervisor. “This can make for some excellent bird hunting. However, if you don’t have a spot already picked out, you might have to do a little extra walking to locate these jackpots – so be patient and persistent. A call can be particularly effective to locate quail this time of year. Don’t overdo it though; just use the call to locate birds.”

Rabe recommends hunting sunny, southern-facing slopes in the morning near washes and good roosting cover. As the day progresses, country with mixed cover and natural washes (big and small) are always good bets. Quail dependence on water in the late season is minimized due to morning moisture and recent rains.

Hunting in areas over 2,500 feet in elevation that don’t get much pressure can be very productive for Gambel’s. Pour over maps to find those secret spots off the beaten path. Pack a lunch and plenty of water and enjoy a day in the field - regardless of harvest, there is nothing better than walking the open Arizona desert in springtime.

Rabe reminds hunters that late-season birds can be gun-shy, tough and challenging. When choosing shot size, switching to a No. 6 will help put mature, early flushing quail in the bag. Also, if your shotgun has interchangeable chokes, consider using a full and improved choke to increase your range and pattern density.

Don’t forget: While you are out in the field, cottontail rabbits and jackrabbits offer an excellent supplement to the upland hunter’s game vest. Both can be extremely challenging to shoot. In decent quail cover, a running cottontail may only offer a split second for a shot opportunity. Both rabbits are excellent eating, especially the back straps from the jackrabbit. The season for rabbits is year-long.

To learn more about small game hunting in Arizona, visit www.azgfd.gov/hunting.

For those hunters looking to get introduced into big game hunting, there are many spring javelina hunt permit-tags available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Most of these hunts begin in early to late February, so act quickly. Javelina hunting is fun, exciting, challenging, and a great way to test your skills at locating game, glassing, stalking, shooting, and hopefully, processing your harvest. For a list of available spring javelina hunts, visit www.azgfd.gov/draw under “List of Leftover Permits for Spring 2009 hunts (PDF, 45kb).”

Ten tips when applying for elk and/or antelope hunting permits
Application deadline is Tuesday, Feb. 10; apply early to avoid long lines

If you have visions of elk steaks on the grill or sending those trophy horns of a 70-class pronghorn to the taxidermist, don’t forget the most important step – applying for a hunt permit-tag before the deadline.

The final deadline to submit paper-only applications for a 2009 hunt permit-tag for pronghorn antelope and elk hunts through the draw process is Tuesday, Feb. 10 by 7 p.m. (MST). Applications must be received by mail or hand delivered to a department office before the deadline; postmarks don’t count.

To help hunters navigate the application process, the Arizona Game and Fish Department offers these tips:

1. Buy your 2009 hunting license before applying. If you need your license before the draw is completed (April 24), buying your license now will eliminate the wait and long lines at department offices. (Note: This is a great year for a combo hunt and fish license - the fishing should be fantastic this year.)

2. Use the new editable PDF application. By using a computer to fill out the application, many errors are eliminated, including legibility issues. Just fill it out, print it out, sign it, include your payment, and deliver it to the department. Remember, there is no online application process for the draw.

3. Consult the 2008 Hunt Arizona booklet. Research draw odds, hunt success, tag allotment and more with this valuable resource available online in PDF, or purchase a hard copy for only $6 at any department office.

4. Pay by check, money order or cashier’s check. The department doesn’t accept cash or credit/debit card payments with the hunt permit-tag application. (Note: You may pre-purchase a license at the front counter with cash or credit/debit card.)

5. Include the correct payment amount. Be certain to double-check your math when making out your payment. There is a worksheet on the second page of the application. Also, make certain you don’t transpose any numbers when writing out your check, money order or cashier’s check (it’s more common than you may think).

6. Use a separate application for each species. If you are applying for both elk and antelope, you must use two separate applications, envelopes and payments.

7. Use the “Hunt No.” in the first through fifth choice fields. This is the four-digit number in the far left column under each Commission Order. Don’t use Game Management Unit numbers (which are typically alphanumeric).

8. Consider what type of hunter you are. When looking over the Hunt Arizona information, keep in mind what type of hunt you are after. Do you just want elk meat, or are you dead set on harvesting a trophy? Do you have flexibility in your travel time, or is it limited? All these play a key role in your odds of being drawn. It could take time to draw that rutting bull tag compared to a late-season muzzleloader cow hunt.

9. Include your social security number – it’s a federal law. Even if you use a department-assigned identification number, you are still required to include your social security number. If you only use one number, it must be your social security number.

10. Only use one choice when applying for a bonus point. If you are just applying for a bonus point, use the first Hunt No. listed under each Commission Order in the first choice field and include the $7.50 application fee (leave the second through fifth choices blank).

For some other great tips and additional insights on how to get drawn, check out the article in the Arizona Wildlife Views Magazine at www.azgfd.gov/i_e/pubs/ElkHunting.shtml. The award-winning bi-monthly publication is a great resource for wildlife enthusiasts and a steal at $8.50 for a one-year subscription.

Staff will be on hand at each department office on deadline day to assist hunters with the application process. If this is your first-time applying, or you are new to the process, feel free to stop by and ask for assistance. However, license sales at department offices end at 5 p.m.

The 2009 Arizona Pronghorn Antelope and Elk Hunt Draw Information regulations booklet, application forms and the 2008 Hunt Arizona are all available online for downloading from the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Web site at www.azgfd.gov/draw. Hard copies of the 2008 Hunt Arizona publication are also available for sale at all department offices.

To learn more about big game hunting, wildlife management and the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation, visit www.azgfd.gov/hunting.

Bikers soar to help sick and injured wildlife

What better way to spend a Sunday than on the back of a motorcycle enjoying Arizona’s landscape, all while benefiting sick and injured wildlife? Riders are invited to participate in the family-friendly “Bikers Soar for Wildlife Poker Run” on Feb. 8. The fundraiser helps with the care and rehabilitation of animals at the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Wildlife Center, and is hosted by the Center’s Auxiliary.

“This event is a great way to get outdoors and enjoy a day with your family, all while helping raise money for wildlife rehabilitation and education,” says Sandy Cate, coordinator of the Wildlife Center. “The whole family is sure to have fun with a variety of activities, including the poker run, plus wildlife exhibits, a live band and a raffle for prizes.”

Riders will enjoy 130 miles of scenic Arizona, beginning at Ridenow Powersports at 15380 W. Bell Road in Surprise and ending at Pioneer Living History Village at 3901 W. Pioneer Road in Phoenix. Pioneer Living History Village is a reproduction of an old Western town from the 1800s. Throughout the route, riders will stop at designated locations to collect a playing card, with the best hand of five cards winning a prize at the end of the ride. Even the non-riders in the family can partake by joining riders after 1 p.m. to enjoy the activities at the final destination.

The tax-deductible cost to participate is $25 per rider or $35 per rider and passenger, with a ride pin and lunch provided to all registered riders. The first 300 registrants will receive a free event T-shirt. Registration begins at 8 a.m. For more information and to register, visit the Wildlife Center’s volunteer auxiliary Web site at www.azwildlifecenter.net/events or call (623) 587-0139.
Founded in May 1983, the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Wildlife Center treats more than 1,000 sick and injured animals annually, and provides wildlife education to local schools and outreach to community groups. The center’s mission is carried out with a small budget from the state’s Heritage Fund, making fundraising an important contributor to the care of the animals.

The Heritage Fund, a voter-passed initiative, was started in 1990 to further conservation efforts in the state, including protecting endangered species, educating 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. 

New range offers great opportunities for West Valley shooters
Buckeye Hills complex and range renamed after local World War II heroes

On Friday, Jan. 16, the Maricopa County Parks and Recreation Department hosted the grand opening of the Joe Foss Shooting Complex, formerly known as the Buckeye Hills Shooting Range, located in Buckeye, Ariz. The facility is a self-sufficient “green” complex operated by on-site solar power with battery backup for lighting, cooling and heating, and running on its own well water for restrooms and potable drinking water.

The new facility consists of a 200-yard main range and a 50-yard pistol range, both with 40 stations and covered awnings. The range is open to the public on Saturdays and Sundays. The winter hours are 8 a.m. – 4.30 p.m. The daily range fee is $7 and youth shooters under the age of 18 are free. The Buckeye Sportsman’s Club is in charge of range operations.

“We are very excited to see this new range in this key growth corridor of the state,” said Anthony Chavez, shooting sports coordinator for the Arizona Game and Fish Department. “The facility is incredible and we are looking forward to continuing our relationship with the Buckeye Sportsman’s Club and the Maricopa County Parks and Recreation Department to make it a big success.”

Experienced personnel from the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Ben Avery Shooting Facility provided the Buckeye Sportsman’s Club with consultation, training and guidance on range safety, operations, management, and the many other elements required to run a successful and safe shooting facility. Clubs or organizations operate most of the shooting ranges owned by the department, and this has proven to be a successful model.

Stay engaged in federal land management planning efforts
Public has opportunity to provide input on forest plans and travel management plans

Outdoor enthusiasts are encouraged to stay engaged in the public input processes for federal land management and travel management efforts. Most of Arizona’s national forests and BLM field offices are in various stages of revising land use and travel management plans. Two of the ongoing processes involve the Kaibab National Forest (Tusayan Ranger District) and the Prescott National Forest.

Kaibab National Forest, Tusayan Ranger District

The deadline for public comment on the environmental assessment (EA) for the Kaibab National Forest Tusayan Ranger District’s travel management project is tomorrow (Friday, Jan. 30, 2009). The EA discloses the direct, indirect, and cumulative environmental impacts that would result from the proposed action and two alternatives. Comments can be e-mailed to comments-southwestern-kaibab@fs.fed.us.

Information posted on the Kaibab National Forest’s Web site says the proposed action includes removal of about 163 miles of roads from public motorized travel from the existing open forest road system (resulting in the total miles of roads on the Tusayan Ranger District open to motor vehicle travel going from 709 miles to 546 miles). It also includes provisions to allow opportunities for motorized access to dispersed camping and motorized access by hunters to travel up to one mile cross-country in order to retrieve a legally downed and tagged elk.

The EA relates only to the Tusayan Ranger District. The Kaibab National Forest chose a district-by-district approach to its travel management planning. Separate planning processes are taking place on the forest’s Williams and North Kaibab districts.

To see a copy of the EA and its accompanying documents, visit the Kaibab National Forest Web site at www.fs.fed.us/r3/kai/travelmanagement/documents.php. For more information, visit www.fs.fed.us/r3/kai/news/releases/2009/20090107_tus-open-hse.php.

Prescott National Forest

The Prescott National Forest will hold two public meetings in preparation for revising its Forest Plan. The meetings will be held at:

  • Camp Verde, Feb. 25, 5:30-8:30 p.m., Cliff Castle Casino, 555 Middle Verde Road.
  • Prescott, Feb. 26, 5:30-8:30 p.m., Yavapai College, 1100 E. Sheldon St., Building 19, Room, 147.

Information posted on the Prescott National Forest’s Web site says the forest has spent the past year putting together information for two reports: (1) Economic and Social Sustainability Assessment and, (2) Ecological Sustainability. The goal of each report is to identify "concerns" that may need to be addressed in a revised Forest Plan based on comparison to stated reference conditions, on information heard from citizens, or on recent trends in conditions.

At the February public meetings (Feb. 25 in Camp Verde; Feb. 26 in Prescott), the Prescott National Forest would like to discuss the findings from those two documents, and get the public’s feedback on which items resonate as the most urgent at a policy level. From there, the forest will initiate the formal plan revision process and move into development of a Proposed Forest Plan.

For more information, visit http://www.fs.fed.us/r3/prescott/plan-revision/pub-mtgs-february-2009.shtml.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department will continue to post information as it learns of it at www.azgfd.gov/outdoor_recreation/federal_land_management.shtml. However, the best way for you to stay current on the latest updates is by contacting the individual national forests for USDA Forest Service plans, or the Bureau of Land Management for BLM plans. A list of contact information and Web links can be found in the “downloads” column at www.azgfd.gov/outdoor_recreation/federal_land_management.shtml.

Next commission meeting is Feb. 6-7 in Phoenix

The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Arizona Game and Fish Commission is Friday, Feb. 6 and Saturday, Feb. 7, at the Arizona Game and Fish Department headquarters at 5000 W. Carefree Highway in Phoenix.

Friday’s portion of the meeting begins with an executive session at 8 a.m., followed by the public meeting. Items on Friday’s agenda include:

  • Request for commission approval for the department to relinquish the lease at its former Deer Valley South complex in exchange for the City of Phoenix’s payment of the department’s hanger lease annual rental at Deer Valley Airport through 2022.
  • Request for the commission to approve acquisition of the Gary Gable property located north of and contiguous to the Arlington Wildlife Area in Maricopa County.
  • Request for the commission to approve an intergovernmental agreement with the Town of Quartzsite designating hunting areas within the town limits.
  • A briefing to the commission on Department of Defense activities at the U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground.
  • A presentation to the commission on draft recommendations for the 2009 Director’s Goals and Objectives.
  • Hearings on license revocations for violations of Game and Fish codes and civil assessments for the illegal taking and/or possession of wildlife.

Saturday’s portion of the meeting begins at 9 a.m. Items on Saturday’s agenda include:

  • Consideration of moving the permitted archery deer hunts into the same draw cycle as elk and antelope permits.
  • A presentation to the commission on the Commission Awards process, including a review of the award categories.

For a complete agenda, visit www.azgfd.gov/commission and click on the commission agenda link.

Volunteers needed to clean up after desert “litterbugs”
Game and Fish event also includes live wildlife exhibit and other activities
The Arizona Game and Fish Department is inviting those that love the scenic outdoors to join in on a weekend desert expo camp out and cleanup effort on Feb. 6-8, approximately 20 miles west of Wickenburg, Ariz.

Although the purpose of the event is to clean up areas plagued by litter, the department is hosting many other activities for participants to enjoy, including sightseeing, geocaching, wildlife educational booths, off-highway vehicle information, and controlled BB gun target shooting for all ages.

Over the years trash has piled up, and besides being unsightly, the large piles of trash can be harmful to wildlife, a fire hazard and damaging to the landscape. Those that choose not to camp out are still encouraged to come out just for the day on Saturday and take part in all the activities. The cleanup site is located in the department’s Game Management Unit 42 at GPS coordinates 33 42.661' N, 112 53.034' W.

“We wanted to make this event fun for our volunteers,” said Craig Heath, event organizer and wildlife manager for the Game and Fish Department. “So to get more families involved, we are designating cleanup areas as ‘geocaches’ to make it exciting for volunteers to find the locations using Global Positioning System (GPS) devices.”

Heath added, “The department’s Wildlife Center will have live wildlife displays on hand. Participants can get up close and personal with some of these rehabilitated animals that live in this region, including a red-tailed hawk, a great-horned owl, a ground squirrel, a black-tailed prairie dog and, if it is warm enough, a Gila monster and a snake.”

Volunteers should dress accordingly for the outdoors (boots, long-sleeved shirt, hat, work gloves, etc.). The temperatures in February can run the gamut from cold and wet, to hot and dry. Bring plenty of water, a sack lunch for day visits and meals for those camping out, and a shovel or rake. Those that are interested in geocaching activities should bring their own hand-held GPS units. Participants are reminded this is not a campground and there are no facilities.

For those without GPS, the camp is approximately ¼ mile past the intersection of Vulture Mine Road and Aguila Road. No registration is required. For questions, detailed directions or more information, contact Craig Heath at (623) 882-2140 or cheath@azgfd.gov.

To learn more about other volunteer opportunities with the Arizona Game and Fish Department, visit www.azgfd.gov/volunteer.

Department is expanding efforts at upcoming ISE outdoor show
Invest in your family and reconnect with the outdoors at ISE

The Arizona Game and Fish Department is expanding its presence at the ever-popular International Sportsmen’s Expo (ISE) Feb. 27-March 1 at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale.

“This terrific outdoor show just gets better and better each year, which challenges us in a good way to enhance the department’s participation,” said Ty Gray, an assistant director with the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

Once again this year, the Game and Fish Department is operating the Youth Outdoor Sports Fair at ISE, with a kids fishing tank, live wildlife, wildlife assets auction, BB-gun trailer plus many other interesting booths and activities for the whole family.

“In a way, we are kind of overflowing to outside the stadium. For this year’s outdoor show we are moving our increasingly popular introductory archery classes outside the stadium but near the Youth Outdoors area so we can handle even more participants. In that same outdoor area, we will also have our boating and off-highway vehicle experts available,” Gray said.

Gray said that even though economic times are tough, or possibly because of it, it appears that more and more families are looking to enhance their quality of life by re-connecting with the outdoors.

“It could be that tough economic times make us re-think what is really most important, such as family, friends and outdoor pursuits,” Gray said. “With our lakes almost full and our diverse habitats in the state responding to abundant winter precipitation so far, there is no better time for families to re-invest in that valuable outdoor connection.”

In addition to the Youth Outdoor Fair, this year’s 9th annual ISE will once again fill the University of Phoenix Stadium with fishing, hunting and outdoor products and destination experts.

You can also increase the show's value even more by attending seminars, getting personal lessons from expert instructors, entering a contest, and bringing the kids to the Youth Outdoor Sports Fair.

Don't miss this valuable opportunity to celebrate the outdoors with family and friends, capture show-priced bargains, and meet face-to-face with guides and lodge owners from nearby and around the world. ISE Phoenix has it all, including:

  • Freshwater and saltwater rods, reels and gear.
  • ATVs, Sport-fishing boats and kayaks.
  • Fly-fishing equipment, try-out areas and instruction.
  • Weekend getaway adventures and dream vacations to fishing and hunting destinations.
  • Fishing guides and hunting outfitters.

Join Game and Fish on a ferret-finding mission
Volunteers needed to help with recovery effort

The elusive, nocturnal black-footed ferret has established a foothold in Aubrey Valley, but the Arizona Game and Fish Department needs volunteers to help monitor the endangered animal’s uphill climb.

Game and Fish will be conducting a spotlighting effort from March 5-9 and still has several openings for wildlife enthusiasts wishing to help find the small predators.

“Volunteers have played a critical role in this recovery effort,” said Jeff Pebworth, wildlife program manager at the Game and Fish Kingman office. “We don’t have the personnel to fully staff these efforts and the program’s continued success depends on people remaining involved.”

Twice thought to be extinct, a small population of black-footed ferrets was discovered in 1981. A mere 18 were left when captive breeding efforts began in 1985. In 1996, Arizona’s Aubrey Valley was selected as a reintroduction site.

“We’re proud of what we’ve accomplished in Arizona,” Pebworth said, “but a lot of that credit falls on those who have donated their time to help.”

Pebworth acknowledges that those volunteers earn the right to brag about their participation and in the recovery of this animal.

Volunteers must be able to stay attentive from sunset to sunrise, be able to carry up to 30 pounds while backpack-spotlighting for two-hour durations. They must also be willing to learn how to use a Global Positioning System (GPS).

Individuals can volunteer for one or more dates. A parent or guardian must accompany any youth under the age of 18.

Those wishing to volunteer, or needing more information, should e-mail azferret@azgfd.gov by Feb. 23 with “March Spotlighting” in the subject line. Please indicate what night(s) you are available to help; include a first and last name, a contact number, and if anyone else will be attending with you.

Also, please list any of the following equipment you can bring: GPS, clipboard, backpack (to carry a 30-pound battery), headlamp, pen, compass, binoculars, walkie-talkies, 4x4 vehicle (please list passenger capacity), compass, spotlight (that can plug into a cigarette lighter), or a cordless rechargeable spotlight.

It can be cool during the March event, so individuals need to dress appropriately.

“We’ve made progress,” Pebworth said, “but we’re a long way from recovery. It is critical we continue to document ferret numbers and understand how this population is holding up in the wild.

Tres Rios Nature & Earth Festival scheduled for March 7-8 in Avondale

The 2009 Tres Rios Nature and Earth Festival will be held March 7–8 at the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Base and Meridian Wildlife Area (B&M Wildlife Area) in Avondale, Ariz.

Held near the confluence of the Gila, Salt and Agua Fria rivers, this annual family event is conducted in cooperation with the Wildlife for Tomorrow Foundation and the local communities. The event celebrates the rivers, wildlife, outdoors, history and heritage of the area and Arizona.

Festival hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on both days. Admission is free.

Event highlights include:

  • Fishing clinics
  • Bird watching
  • Wildlife displays
  • Canoe trips
  • Hiking tours
  • ‘Green’, historical and nature education displays
  • Children’s nature and fun zone
  • Entertainment from local entertainers such as the renowned ‘Back Porch Bandits’
  • Food and craft items for sale.

The event at Base and Meridian Wildlife Area is located adjacent to the Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale, five miles south of I-10 on Avondale Boulevard (7602 S. Avondale Blvd., Avondale, AZ 85323)

For more information, visit www.tresriosnaturefestival.com on the Internet or call (623) 204-2130.

Make plans to attend the Game and Fish Outdoor Expo in March

Take out your new 2009 calendar and make sure you save the dates for the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Outdoor Expo at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility in north Phoenix. The event is free and will be held Saturday, March 28 and Sunday, March 29. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days.

The purpose of the Arizona Game and Fish Department Outdoor Expo is to introduce or reconnect people with the outdoors through fun activities and educational demonstrations and exhibits.

The Expo offers participants the opportunity to view live wildlife demonstrations, try out target archery, catch fish from the huge kids’ fishing tank, attend workshops on hunting, fishing and wildlife conservation, try out firearms on the range, learn about off-highway vehicle and boating recreation, and more! Numerous outdoor organizations and vendors will be on-hand to provide information on outdoor recreation and demonstrate or sell new products.

If you are looking for inexpensive recreational alternatives this year that can accommodate and entertain the entire family, learn more about the Expo at www.azgfd.gov/expo.