|Wildlife News - Feb. 26, 2009|
Feb 26, 2009
The male cat was incidentally captured Feb. 18 in an area southwest of Tucson during a research study aimed at monitoring habitat connectivity for mountain lions and black bears. It was the first capture and collaring of a wild jaguar in the United States. The jaguar was fitted with a satellite tracking collar and then released.
With nearly a week’s worth of data, the Arizona Game and Fish Department noted that the jaguar moved several miles after collaring to a very high and rugged area that the cat has been known to use in southern Arizona. The animal has stayed in that general vicinity for a few days with apparent patterns of rest and visits to a nearby creek. During the collaring, the cat appeared to have just fed on prey, which will aid its recovery and allow it to go for a period of time without feeding.
The satellite tracking technology will allow biologists to study diet and feeding patterns to learn more about the ecological requirements of the species in borderland habitats.
Scientists have also confirmed the identification of the collared animal: The cat is Macho B, an older male cat that has been photographed by trail cameras periodically over the past 13 years.
“Every indication is that Macho B is doing well and has recovered from his capture and collaring,” says Terry Johnson, endangered species coordinator for the Arizona Game and Fish Department. “With so little known about how jaguars move throughout our state, every little piece of data helps us understand more about the population segment that uses southern Arizona and New Mexico as the northern part of its range. Until now, all we’ve had is a photo here and a photo there, but nothing that shed light on what the species does while moving within or between habitats.”
The tracking collar was donated by North Star Science and Technology and was specifically programmed for a jaguar in the event this species was incidentally captured during other wildlife management activities.
The collar has a unique feature with a special signal to indicate if the jaguar crosses the international border with Mexico.
Mortality due to predation from other large predators, injuries sustained during prey hunts, roadway crossing, disease, accidents or natural causes is possible.
More specific information on the capture location is being protected under the Game and Fish Department’s standard operating procedure not to release location data on threatened and endangered species and for legal reasons that may leave the department liable for “take” violations under the Endangered Species Act.
The species has been listed outside of the United States under the Endangered Species Act since 1973. 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.
The Arizona Game and Fish Department is bringing a new format to the fall hunt recommendation process by offering six public forums across the state to allow constituents an opportunity to provide input to regional biologists before the hunt recommendations are presented to the commission for the 2009-10 hunting seasons.
Each region will be providing details about the populations within their jurisdiction. This means that if you have interest in a particular unit, you will need to attend the public meeting in that region to discuss management direction.
“This new process of including our customers before finalizing the hunt recommendations will address the concerns of hunters earlier in the process, when we still have the ability to make changes if they are warranted,” said Brian Wakeling, chief of game management. “This collaboration should also reduce some of the questions during the commission meeting, improving the efficiencies of those public meetings.”
Constituents interested in attending a public forum where department biologists will be on hand to share the preliminary details of the recommendations may go to any of the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s regional offices.
Public forum dates, times and locations are:
After the public forums, the final draft of the hunt recommendations to be presented to the commission will be made available for public review at six regional open houses. No formal presentation will be made. However, a knowledgeable staff person will be available to discuss regional hunt recommendations.
Open house dates, times and locations are:
A PDF version of the 2009-10 hunt recommendations will be available for review at the Game and Fish Department's Web site beginning Saturday, April 11 at www.azgfd.gov/h_f/hunt_guidelines.shtml.
Each year, the department makes recommendations to the commission regarding the management of game species for the annual hunting and trapping regulations, which establish the seasons, dates, bag limits, open areas, and hunt permit-tag allocations based on the framework of the hunt guidelines set by the commission every two years. The next guidelines will be set in the summer of 2010 for hunting seasons 2010-11 and 2011-12.
The final recommendations are scheduled to be presented to the Arizona Game and Fish Commission for consideration during its April 17-18 meeting in Phoenix at the department headquarters at 5000 W. Carefree Highway, Phoenix (1.5 miles west of I-17). The agenda will be posted at www.azgfd.gov/commission under “commission agenda.”
Or are you an off-highway vehicle enthusiast who wants to find out more about the state’s new off-highway vehicle decal program and other new OHV laws?
Or maybe you’re just interested in shooting a bow and arrow, finding a pair of elk or deer antlers to decorate the den, or taking your youngster to catch a fish.
If so, then put on your most comfortable walking shoes and come visit the Arizona Game and Fish Department area at the International Sportsmen’s Exposition (ISE) in Phoenix on Friday, Feb. 27 through Sunday, March 1, at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale.
The Game and Fish Department’s Adobe Mountain Wildlife Center will be bringing an assortment of live wildlife to ISE, including an elusive ringtail that had spent more than a year hiding in the attic of a Phoenix area drug store.
“This lively ringtail is too habituated to humans, so we can’t return it to the wild. Therefore, we are using it as an educational animal. It’s been a big hit every place we take it,” said Sandy Cate at Adobe Mountain.
Experts from the Game and Fish Department will also be on hand to talk about the state’s new off-highway vehicle laws and give you the information you need to know about the new OHV decal program.
The department will also have a kids fishing tank, archery clinics, an air-gun trailer, wildlife asset (mostly antler) auctions, and plenty of interesting booths touching on a wide range of information from California condors to quagga mussels.
There is even a pristine buffalo head from an animal harvested at the House Rock Valley during the 1950s. Something different this year is jewelry from a law enforcement case, including jewelry made with shells such as abalone. Looking for a museum-quality mounted scorpion in a frame? You can find them at the assets sale booth. There will also be a trophy mule deer (190-plus) on display. Saturday is typically the busiest auction sale day.
ISE hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale (Glendale Avenue and Highway 101). Come see the newest hunting, fishing and outdoor equipment, find out about places to hunt and fish, hear from many outdoor experts during seminars throughout each day, and watch the experts test their skills in competitions.
General admission is $15 for adults, $7 for teens and free for children 12 years and under. Parking is free with paid admission.
For more information, go to www.sportsexpos.com.
The department will recommend the amendment at the Arizona Game and Fish Commission’s April 17-18 meeting in Phoenix, when hunt recommendations are approved.
The North Kaibab mule deer herd in Game Management Unit 12A is well known for the abundance of deer and the relative commonplace occurrence of large-antlered bucks. The relative health of this herd is affected by many factors, including precipitation, wildfires, habitat quality, and the hunt guidelines that govern hunting season recommendations developed by the department.
Game animals in Arizona are managed according to hunt guidelines adopted by the Arizona Game and Fish Commission once every two years. These guidelines direct how wildlife managers formulate hunt recommendations. The guidelines themselves are developed based on best available science and socially-derived expectations from public input.
In special places like the North Kaibab, alternative deer management guidelines are adopted to allow for abundant older age class animals, and low hunter density during late-season hunts.
Existing hunt guidelines for the North Kaibab include direction that hunting permits should be adjusted to obtain greater than 20 bucks for every 100 does, take advantage of high fawn recruitment years, and reduce hunting pressure in years with below-average fawn recruitment.
In 2004, the Arizona Deer Association (ADA) and other interested sportsmen expressed concerns that cliffrose use monitoring conducted annually by the department on the Kaibab winter range might be inadequate for determining if the number of deer were compatible with the amount of food. Together, the department and the ADA collaborated on a research study to examine the deer herd's relationship to the winter range.
Although the final analyses have yet to be completed, one thing is clear: The cliffrose monitoring is not adequate to detect effects of mule deer abundance on winter range. A survey conducted this year indicates that population models, recalibrated after a 2004 survey, are right on the money. Hunt recommendations for North Kaibab mule deer hunts for fall 2009 will be made without reference to forage monitoring.
When the research analyses are complete in early summer 2009, hunt guidelines will incorporate suggested changes and will be presented to the Game and Fish Commission for their approval in August 2009.
The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Arizona Game and Fish Commission is Friday, March 6 and Saturday, March 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:
Saturday’s portion of the meeting begins at 8 a.m. Items on Saturday’s agenda include:
The commission may vote to take action or provide the department with direction on the agenda items. For a complete agenda, visit www.azgfd.gov/commission and click on the commission agenda link.
While you are lying in your bed at night, 20 people are sleeping in tents so they can wake up at the crack of dawn to help protect our state’s bald eagles.
This year’s nestwatchers began their four-month tour of duty on Feb. 6. They will watch 11 breeding areas, most along the Salt and Verde rivers in national forests, on Native American lands, and in Maricopa County parks. The contractors will observe from dawn to dusk, collecting data about the eagles’ behavior, educating the public, and notifying rescuers of any life-threatening situations for the birds.
A recent statewide survey identified four new breeding areas, bringing the total number of breeding sites in Arizona to 59. In addition, at least 11 eggs have already hatched, 36 pairs of bald eagles have laid eggs for the year, and a total of 42 breeding areas are occupied by breeding adults. By the end of the breeding season, biologists expect nearly 50 pairs of bald eagles to breed in Arizona this year.
The public comment period for scoping was reopened last month. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Arizona Game and Fish Department are seeking assistance with identifying the extent and variety of issues that may be associated with fish stockings in the state. The agencies will use the public’s input as part of a draft environmental assessment process that is required to continue using federal funding for stocking activities in Arizona.
Once this latest comment period ends, the wildlife agencies will prepare a draft environmental assessment to evaluate the social, economic and environmental effects of stockings related to continue funding for the program through the Sport Fish Restoration Program.
Written comments can be sent to either:
David Weedman, Aquatic Habitat Program Coordinator, Arizona Game and Fish Department, 5000 W. Carefree Highway, Phoenix, AZ 85086. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Harold Namminga, Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, P.O Box 1306, Albuquerque, NM 87103.
During the initial comment period during November and December, Game and Fish previously conducted three public open houses in Phoenix, Pinetop and Tucson, and collected 150 written comments. Previously submitted comments are being considered and need not be resent.
Each year, the Arizona Game and Fish Department stocks more than 3 million fish for anglers to catch in approximately 160 of Arizona’s lakes, rivers and streams – mostly rainbow, Apache, brook, and cutthroat trout, but some warmwater species such as largemouth bass and channel catfish as well.
The stocking program 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.
State wildlife officials pointed out that recreational angling in Arizona totaled 4,156,000 angling days in 2006, creating a statewide economic impact of more than $1.1 billion annually.
Arizona’s natural fish fauna historically consisted of 36 species of fish, few of which were traditionally sought by early American or present-day anglers. 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.
Although most of the trout species caught in Arizona likely come from fish hatcheries, most of the warmwater species in the state – especially those in the larger impoundments such as Roosevelt Lake – come from natural reproduction.
The federal funding apportioned to Arizona is authorized under the Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish Restoration Act, 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, visit www.azgfd.gov/fishea.
Off-highway vehicles (OHVs), specifically all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), provide good help during hunting season. Each year more and more people are using them. Because ATVs are easier than walking, can access terrain that most vehicles cannot, and can assist in the retrieval of game, they provide an advantage to hunters across Arizona.
When out in the field, remember, in Arizona it is illegal to hunt from any vehicle, and OHV rules and laws designate that no one may use a motor vehicle to assist in the taking of wildlife (except as permitted under the Challenged Hunter Access Mobility Permit, A.R.S. 17-301B).
We recommend that if you see anyone hunting from an ATV, call Operation Game Thief at 1-800-352-0700.
One of the main concerns associated with OHV use is the impact to wildlife habitat. Most OHV users are responsible riders who recognize the impacts their activity can cause, and they voluntarily take steps to reduce them. TREAD lightly, a national coalition that promotes outdoor ethics and stewardship, has created a list of 10 tips for treading lightly while hunting. In Arizona, eight of the “TREAD lightly 10” apply to our hunters, so they allowed us to use those eight and we added two more to make it a top 10:
For more information about safe, ethical and responsible OHV use during hunting season, go to our Web site at www.azgfd.gov/ohv.
“It’s always a thrill to add more individuals to this growing flock, as well as to see them producing young successfully on their own in the wild,” says Chris Parish, condor field project supervisor with The Peregrine Fund, the group releasing the birds.
Of the birds to be released, one was hatched and reared at The Peregrine Fund’s World Center for Birds of Prey in Idaho, and the other three originated from the Oregon Zoo’s captive breeding program.
“Arizona is privileged to be home to one of only three wild California condor populations in the world, so residents and visitors to our state have a unique opportunity to watch this release,” says Kathy Sullivan, a condor biologist with the Arizona Game and Fish Department. “The public gets really into the release, waiting for the birds to come out and trying to subliminally encourage them to take that first flight out of the holding pen.”
Once numbering only 22 birds, 169 California condors now grace the skies of California, Mexico and Arizona. The original 22 birds were captured in the 1980s in an effort to save the species through captive breeding. Condors produced in captivity are now periodically released to help grow the wild populations.
Condors were added to the federal endangered species list in 1967. The condor is the largest flying land bird in North America. The birds can weigh up to 26 pounds and have a wingspan of up to 9 1/2 feet. Condors were first reintroduced into Arizona in 1996, and there are now 67 in the state. Visitors to the Grand Canyon are often able to observe the birds during the spring and summer, and they can be seen at the Vermilion Cliffs during the winter.
Lead poisoning is the leading cause of death in condors and the main obstacle to a self-sustaining population in Arizona. Studies show that lead shot and bullet fragments found in game carcasses and gut piles are the main source of lead in condors.
The Arizona Game and Fish Department, and its partners the Arizona Deer Association, Arizona Elk Society, Arizona Antelope Foundation, Arizona Desert Bighorn Sheep Society, and the Arizona Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation, encourage hunters to continue their proud tradition of wildlife conservation by using non-lead ammunition in condor range (Game Management Units 9, 10, 12A/B, and 13A/B).
The department started offering free non-lead ammunition in 2005 to hunters drawn for hunts in the condor’s core range, which includes Game Management Units 12 A/B and 13A. Contacts made with hunters in the field show that 90 percent of hunters took measures in 2008 to reduce the amount of lead available to condors.
To view the condor release: Drive north on Highway 89 out of Flagstaff. Turn left (west) onto Highway 89A toward Jacob Lake and the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Drive about 25 miles past Marble Canyon until you turn right onto House Rock Valley Road (BLM Road 1065). Travel about three miles to a shaded viewing area on the right. On top of the cliffs to your east will be the location where the condors are released. The release site is approximately one mile from the viewing point. Biologists will be on-site to answer questions and several spotting scopes will be available to the public, although participants are encouraged to bring their own binoculars or spotting scopes for better viewing. Pack cold weather clothing, drinks and sunscreen.
The release site at the Vermilion Cliffs Monument features a new informational kiosk, shade structure and restroom built by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.
The condor reintroduction in Arizona is a joint project of many partners, including Arizona Game and Fish Department, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, The Peregrine Fund, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, Kaibab National Forest and Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.
For more information on California condors, visit www.azgfd.gov/condor.
The recent reports of increased firearms and ammunition sales across the nation set a positive note for upcoming shooting events and outdoor shows in Arizona despite the nation’s challenging economic downturn, said Arizona Game and Fish Department officials.
According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, firearms sales in the nation jumped 28.8 percent in January, for a variety of reasons.
In addition, Winchester previously announced that ammunition sales were up 18 percent in the last quarter of 2008 compared to the previous year.
According to CNNMoney.com recently, there was an 11-percent increase during January of single-day campground reservations over last year, indicating outdoor recreation remains hugely popular even in this economy. (For information about inexpensive family camping vacations, visit http://camping.about.com/b/2008/12/30/camping-outlook-2009.htm).
At the recent SHOT Show in Florida, which is the annual retail trade show for those in the outdoor industry, attendance increased 3 percent this year.
“Yes, economic times are tough and it’s obvious that lots of people are facing financial hardships. But lots of folks also respond to such challenging times by realizing the things that matter most to them – family, friends and the outdoors – can be enjoyed without a big hit on the family budget,” said Gary Hovatter, deputy director for the Arizona Game and Fish Department.
Hovatter said the department remains optimistic about the public’s participation in upcoming national shooting events and regional outdoor shows on the immediate horizon in Arizona.
“These are all fun and exciting outdoor events for families and individuals that don’t challenge the wallet or purse,” Hovatter said. “Plus, with the fact that we are experiencing back-to-back years of excellent winter precipitation, the prognosis couldn’t be better for enhanced wildlife-related recreation opportunities in Arizona this year from hunting and fishing to wildlife watching and camping.”
The upcoming parade of popular shooting events, outdoor shows and nature festivals include:
“Are most people willing to spend more during these challenging economic times? Probably not, but reconnecting with family outdoor traditions remains a great value, especially this year with the lakes filling and our diverse habitats greening up nicely,” Hovatter said.
Hovatter added that for most families, finding fishing tackle, binoculars, shootin’ irons, wildlife calls and camping equipment is mostly a matter of digging through garages and closets or calling friends and relatives.
Game and Fish officials added that there are opportunities for outdoor-related businesses and organizations to participate in the department’s upcoming outdoor expo in late March. Visit www.azgfd.gov/expo for more information, or see the article in this newsletter.
Well pard, just hop on your old cayuse and mosey over to the Single Action Shooting Society’s national shooting competition during the annual Winter Range on Feb. 25-March 1 at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility, which is just a short trail ride along I-17 to the outskirts of town along Carefree Highway.
Be sure to peruse the wanted posters because you might just run into pistol-packin’ characters like E.Z. Shot, Nine Toe Joe, or Mad Coyote. Also, stop by and say howdy to Pea Patch in her feathered hat or the entertaining Brighton Belle as well.
Yep, those are the trail names of real-life characters from the Arizona Territorial Company of Rough Riders who are helping to stage this classic cowboy event, but in the spirit of the old West, those names are not necessarily the ones town marshals or Pinkertons will uncover on their birth certificates.
You can even don your rowdy cowboy garb and come do a little Western play acting yourself - it’s all part of visiting or participating in this crowd-pleasing national cowboy action shooting competition where you can see shooters compete using authentic or replica Western firearms.
You might be flabbergasted by quick-shooting main match participants using firearms from the late 1800s or be thrilled by horse-mounted desperadoes galloping full speed across the desert floor to blast balloons with their trusty six guns.
Don’t miss a visit to Sutlers Row, where good folks will be offering their wares, ranging from period firearms and clothing to leather goods and fancy folderol, plus hundreds of articles used by working cowboys and town folk of the era.
What’s more, period militaria from the Indian Wars to Cuba will be on display.
It’s another piece of history coming to life in the picturesque upper Sonoran desert of the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s 1,700-acre Ben Avery Shooting Facility, which is the largest multi-purpose public shooting facility in the United States.
You can also hang around for Saturday night grub and be entertained by “Pioneer Pepper and the Sunset Pioneers,” who will take you back to the nostalgic era when singing cowboys livened up the nights (or the Silver Screen) with their Wild West musical shows.
By the way, you can enjoy this exciting Wild West event for free, but please bring a $5 donation to tie your horse to the hitchin’ rail or park your ranch wagon near the horse corrals.
Plus, there’ll be plenty of tender beef steak, strong cowboy coffee and savory range-cooked beans from the vendors (along with lots of other food), so you can hang on the feed bag while rambling about.
The Ben Avery Shooting Facility is located in north Phoenix on Carefree Highway just west of I-17 (Exit 223). Daily event times are 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. from Wednesday, Feb. 25 through Saturday, Feb. 28, and 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Sunday, March 1.
While in the shooting areas, spectators will be required to wear eye protection (sunglasses and corrective glasses are acceptable) and ear protection is strongly suggested, especially for children.
For more information about Winter Range, visit www.winterrange.com.
Held near the confluence of the Gila, Salt and Agua Fria rivers, the festival is held in cooperation with the Wildlife for Tomorrow Foundation and local communities, and 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:
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 or call (623) 204-2130.
Held at Ben Avery Shooting facility, one the largest public shooting facilities in North America, this two-day event will be held Saturday, March 28 and Sunday, March 29, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
There’s loads of activities—test your skill at target archery, see live wildlife, observe bass fishing demonstrations, try out firearms on the shooting range, see off-highway vehicles such as rock crawlers and learn about responsible OHV recreation, view boats on display, and watch the Scholastic Clay Target Program and Archery in the Schools competitions.
Children will get a chance to catch a fish, try rock climbing, archery and youth air gun shooting, view live wildlife such as birds of prey and reptiles, and see exciting demonstrations by groups such as the Cowboy Action Shooters.
Visit with more than 100 ‘outdoor’ vendors and exhibitors that include sportsmen’s/wildlife conservation groups, firearms manufacturers, government agencies, outdoor product retailers, specialty shooting organizations, and more.
There’s something for everyone, and the event and parking are FREE!
So you don’t miss a thing, trolley transportation is available throughout the 1,700-acre shooting facility, which is located on Carefree Highway, ½ mile west of Interstate 17. Plan on an all-day event. Although the event is free, you might want to bring some cash for food and beverages at the food court, or for purchasing ammunition (nominal fee) if you want to try out firearms on the range.
There’s still time for “outdoor-related” vendors and sponsors to participate. Information about the event and vendor/sponsor registration forms can be obtained at www.azgfd.gov/expo or by calling (602) 942-3000.
Getting outdoors and experiencing outdoor recreation is a great way to spend time with friends and family. More than 26,000 people attended last year’s Expo. Come on out – it’s fun and it’s free, and that’s a tough combination to beat!