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    Wildlife viewing basics workshop scheduled at Sipe Wildlife Area

    Wildlife viewing basics workshop scheduled at Sipe Wildlife Area

    The Arizona Game and Fish Department will conduct its annual public wildlife-viewing basics workshop on Saturday, Sept. 18, at the Sipe White Mountain Wildlife Area, near Eagar in eastern Arizona. This popular program is designed to help people find, observe and enjoy many of the state’s wildlife species on their own.

    The program begins at 2 p.m. with an information program that focuses on wildlife viewing in Arizona, giving suggestions on how and where to find wildlife. Department personnel will also discuss natural history and behavior of one of Arizona’s most recognized wildlife species, the Rocky Mountain elk. Workshop participants will go into the field that evening on the Sipe property, applying viewing principles and techniques to find and observe some of Arizona’s majestic elk up close. The wildlife area is located seven miles southeast of Eagar.

    “We’ve designed this workshop to provide people with sufficient information for them to have a quality, first-hand experience in the outdoors, and to be able to regularly find and watch wildlife on their own,” says Bruce Sitko, spokesman in the department’s Pinetop office. “If you’ve never heard a bull elk bugle in the rut, you’ve missed one of nature’s most awesome sounds. This will be an excellent opportunity to see and hear elk.”

    Because it will be necessary to maintain a small group once in the field, the clinic is limited to 30 participants. “Also, because wildlife viewing in general does require patience and a minimum of movement and noise, we request that children under the age of 14 not attend,” Sitko says.

    The workshop is free, but pre-registration and a refundable deposit of $20 per person are required to ensure that spaces aren’t blocked off and then not used. The deposit will be returned to those who attend, but cashed if someone doesn’t show up.

    Registration can be done at the Pinetop Game and Fish office at 2878 E. White Mountain Blvd., or by calling the office at (928) 367-4281 and giving a name, contact phone number and the number of people attending to one of the customer service representatives. Participants will be given instructions at that time for mailing in the refundable registration deposit.

    Wildlife viewing events for the public such as this are supported by the Heritage Fund, a voter initiative passed in 1990 to assist wildlife conservation efforts in the state through Arizona Lottery ticket sales.

    “Arizona is a state rich in wildlife resources,” Sitko notes. “More than 900 different species of fish and animals can be found here. We highly encourage folks to pause and discover not just the visual beauty of Arizona’s settings, but also to learn to find, view and appreciate the different creatures that live in and about our state’s diverse landscapes.”

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    Posted on 22nd August 2010
    Under: Arizona News, Conservation Groups, Events | No Comments »

    Nominations Sought for Commission Awards

    Nominations sought for 2010 Commission Awards

    The Arizona Game and Fish Commission is soliciting nominations for the 2010 Commission Awards to recognize Arizonans who have contributed significantly to the welfare of the state’s wildlife and the mission of the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

    Categories for nomination include Award of Excellence, Youth Environmentalist of the Year, Outdoor Writer of the Year, Media of the Year, Conservation Organization of the Year, Conservationist of the Year, Natural Resource Professional of the Year, Volunteer of the Year, Educator of the Year, Mentor of the Year, Advocate of the Year, and License Dealer of the Year. Descriptions of each category are on the nomination form.

    To download a nomination form, click here.

    Nominations may include individuals, organizations, clubs, foundations or government agencies. Arizona Game and Fish Department employees are not eligible for nomination.

    Return the nomination form and all supplemental materials to: Arizona Game and Fish Department, Attn: Marty Fabritz - DOHQ, 5000 W. Carefree Highway, Phoenix, AZ 85086. Forms can also be faxed to (623) 236-7299 or e-mailed to Mfabritz@azgfd.gov.

    The submission deadline is 5 p.m. on Sept. 10, 2010.

    Winners of the 2010 awards will be honored at the Meet the Commission banquet in Phoenix on January 15, 2011.

    For more information, visit www.azgfd.gov/inside_azgfd/commission_awards.shtml.

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    Posted on 21st August 2010
    Under: Arizona News, Conservation Groups, Events, General, Press Releases | No Comments »

    Elk viewing workshop scheduled for Flagstaff

    Elk viewing workshop scheduled for Flagstaff

    Would you like to experience the sound of a bull elk bugling or see a cow elk keeping a watchful eye on her calf? The Arizona Game and Fish Department and Mormon Lake Lodge invite you to attend an elk viewing workshop on Aug. 21. The workshop includes a presentation and a field trip to watch elk in their natural habitat near Mormon Lake.

    Mormon Lake is unique as it is only one of two natural lakes found in Arizona. During the early fall, hundreds of elk can be observed at the site and along Lake Mary Road.

    “This workshop is a great way for people of all ages to come enjoy the state’s wildlife treasures,” says Arizona Game and Fish Department Public Information Officer Shelly Shepherd. “Game and Fish is providing wildlife watching events throughout the state to encourage people to get outdoors and learn about wildlife and their important habitats.”

    Game and Fish’s wildlife viewing events are supported by the Heritage Fund, a voter-passed initiative that was started in 1990 to further wildlife conservation efforts in the state through Arizona Lottery ticket sales.

    The workshop will begin at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 21. Participants will attend a presentation, located in the Kachina Room at Mormon Lake Lodge, and then will be escorted on a field trip. The field trip location will be determined that day based on where the elk are seen.

    Spotting scopes will be provided, but participants are encouraged to bring binoculars, water, snacks, and to wear appropriate clothing.

    Anyone interested in registering for the workshop will need to contact the Flagstaff Game and Fish office at (928) 774-5045 before 3 p.m. on Aug. 19. All Game and Fish offices will be closed on Friday, Aug. 20 due to a mandatory state furlough day.

    To find Mormon Lake Lodge: travel south on Lake Mary Road to the second Mormon Lake Road turnoff, go past the lake overlook, about 25 miles from Flagstaff. Follow Mormon Lake Road about 1.5 miles to the lodge.

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    Posted on 17th August 2010
    Under: Arizona News, Conservation Groups, Press Releases | No Comments »

    Up to $2,500 reward offered in mule deer poaching near Tacna

    Up to $2,500 reward offered in mule deer poaching near Tacna

    YUMA, Ariz. - The Arizona Game and Fish Department is offering a reward of up to $2,500 for information leading to the arrest of the individual or individuals responsible for the illegal killing of an adult 4×4 mule deer buck east of Tacna in Game Management Unit 41 in southwestern Arizona.

    Game and Fish officers believe the incident occurred between Aug. 1-9 near a popular hunting area known as Texas Hill. The deer hunting season in that area was closed at the time.

    “The buck was shot, possibly through the neck, with an unknown caliber firearm and just left to waste in the desert,” said Richard Myers, law enforcement specialist for the Game and Fish Yuma region. “The shooter may have been out on a joyride at night and was startled by another vehicle, since only one shot was taken and no meat was removed from the carcass.”

    Myers added that poachers aren’t hunters, and the public shouldn’t confuse the two.

    “Poachers who commit these illegal acts not only steal from the resource, they steal from the residents of Arizona,” he said.

    Anyone with information is encouraged to call the Operation Game Thief hotline toll-free at (800) 352-0700. Caller identities may remain confidential upon request. You can also report online at www.azgfd.gov/thief.

    Damn, I hate poachers. Citizens and agencies alike can help fight poaching. Visit the Poacher Chronicles to learn more. ~DesertRat

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    Posted on 15th August 2010
    Under: Arizona News, Conservation Groups, General, Hunting, Press Releases | No Comments »

    AWF on Border Fences

    My friend Larry Audsley wrote a great piece in a recent Arizona Wildlife Federation newsletter. You can view the article and entire newsletter online here Arizona Wildlife News - Summer 2010

    A snippet of the article:

    A complete inventory of the resource damage associated with illegal immigration and smuggling would be a daunting undertaking. The impacts aren’t limited to the immediate border but extend many miles into Arizona’s interior and affect high-value places for flora and fauna. Thus anyone who cares
    about wildlife and Arizona’s ecological health should want to suppress rampant illegal entry. Despite some publicized smugglers’ stunts involving ramps and even cranes getting trucks across the barriers, it’s
    clear that fences and vehicle barriers make illegal crossings harder. The question, though, is whether physical barriers actually suppress illegal immigration or merely divert it to other locations where the obstacles are weaker. Experience seems to show that illegal entrants respond to new or strengthened barriers by shifting activity to weaker points. It’s been widely noted that improved fencing in Texas
    and California was followed by a spike in border crossings in Arizona, where barriers were fewer and weaker. The same dynamic seems to have occurred within Arizona as the fencing was going up in Cochise County. When the US economy gets going full bore again and high demand for unskilled labor returns, we may find that the present fences and vehicle barriers will shift Arizona’s immigrant super-highway into some of
    the state’s best wild country.

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    Posted on 14th August 2010
    Under: Arizona News, Conservation Groups | No Comments »

    Arizona Big Game Super Raffle winners announced

    Arizona Big Game Super Raffle winners announced

    Annual raffle of special issued hunting permits helps fund wildlife conservation

    Twelve lucky winners are certainly grinning from ear to ear after hearing of their success from the 2010 Arizona Big Game Super Raffle.

    The winners of 10 special big game hunts, a high-end binoculars package, and a guided New Mexico elk hunt were announced during the drawing of the Arizona Big Game Super Raffle on July 22.

    The raffle winners for 2010 are:

    * Antelope (pronghorn) - Keith Newlon, Sierra Vista, Ariz.
    * Bear - Fred Provine, Capitan, N.M.
    * Buffalo - Matthew Rohrer, Phoenix, Ariz.
    * Coues white-tailed deer - Brad Richardson, Scottsdale, Ariz.
    * Desert bighorn sheep - Greg Gordon, Burney, Calif.
    * Elk - Paul E. Shepley, Jr., Tucson, Ariz.
    * Javelina - John Ristick, Queen Creek, Ariz.
    * Mountain lion - Jeffrey Penny, Yuma, Ariz.
    * Mule deer – Robert Currier, Cabool, Mo.
    * Turkey - Lester Hansen, Tucson, Ariz.
    * Swarovski optics package - Jeffrey Murray, Magnolia, TX.
    * New Mexico elk hunt - David Dubie, Scottsdale, Ariz.

    These twelve raffle winners are just the tip of the iceberg from the event. Landscape-level projects for Arizona’s wildlife and habitats will continue to be funded thanks to the reported $369,465 raised by this raffle that was founded and dedicated to funding wildlife conservation.

    Created in 2006 as a way to garner mass participation due to the low cost of a raffle ticket (prices range from $5-$25 each, depending on raffle item), it is one of the largest hunting raffles of its kind, where anyone has an opportunity to win.

    Every dollar raised for each species is returned to the Arizona Game and Fish Department for the specific management of that species. However, the decisions on funding specific projects are coordinated through a cooperative process of the Arizona Habitat Partnership Committee. Input from 12 statewide habitat partners and the organizations (state, local and conservation groups) collectively determine which projects will provide the most benefit to each species represented.

    Funding from the raffle allows for a multitude of wildlife conservation projects. For 2010, more than 60 projects were approved, including the development, maintenance, and improvement of water catchments to provide reliable water sources for wildlife during drought years. A number of grassland restoration projects through controlled burns and tree removals were funded. Other funded projects assist in wildlife management through helicopter surveys, translocation of wildlife, and the monitoring of wildlife movements to map connectivity issues. A key factor to a project getting approved is that there are funding sources to share costs, labor, or supplied materials, compounding every dollar spent for Arizona’s wildlife. Last year, funded projects provided more than $2 for every $1 spent from the tag funds.

    So, the next time you see a highway underpass allowing elk to move safely near the Mogollon Rim, or an antelope ducking under a modified fence in the open plains of Prescott, or if you’re fortunate to spot a desert bighorn sheep peering down from a cliff after watering in the arid desert, remember to think of hunters as conservationists. The majority of wildlife conservation and management by the Arizona Game and Fish Department is made possible by funding generated from the sale of hunting licenses, hunt permit-tags, and matching funds from federal excise taxes hunters pay on guns, ammunition and related equipment, and not from the state’s tax revenues.

    To learn more about the Habitat Partnership Committee, visit www.azgfd.gov/w_c/hpc.shtml.

    The Arizona Big Game Super Raffle, a non-profit entity, is supported by the following organizations:

    * Arizona Antelope Foundation
    * Arizona Bowhunters Association
    * Arizona Deer Association
    * Arizona Desert Bighorn Sheep Society
    * Arizona Elk Society
    * Arizona Game and Fish Department
    * Arizona Wildlife Federation
    * Wild Sheep Foundation
    * Mule Deer Foundation
    * National Wild Turkey Federation
    * Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation
    * Safari Club International, Arizona Chapter
    * Safari Club International, Phoenix Chapter
    * Swarovski Optik
    * West Tex New Mexico Hunting Services

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    Posted on 10th August 2010
    Under: Arizona News, Conservation Groups, General | No Comments »

    Helping Desert Tortoises

    Helping desert tortoises the right way during monsoon season

    Monsoon season brings one of the southwest desert’s most iconic creatures out of their burrows and out-and-about across the state. Desert tortoises are now in their most active season, and Arizona’s increased human population creates more risks for these slow-moving symbols of the Sonoran desert.

    The Arizona Game and Fish Department asks the public to follow these important guidelines if they encounter a desert tortoise:

    * Do not remove a tortoise from its habitat. Taking a wild tortoise home is illegal in Arizona. Additionally, most tortoises stay in the same small area their entire lives, so if you move a tortoise to a new location it will not know where to find food and shelter and will likely die.

    * Do not release a captive tortoise into the wild. Captive desert tortoises cannot be released into the wild as they can pass diseases to wild populations and displace wild tortoises. It is also illegal to release captive animals into the wild.

    * Keep dogs away from both captive and wild desert tortoises. Even the most gentle dog can pose a serious threat to a tortoise.

    * If you come across a desert tortoise crossing a busy road, if traffic safely permits it, pick the tortoise up and gently move it to the other side of the road. Carry the animal so that it is level to the ground, and move it in the same direction it was headed.

    “People think they are doing the tortoise a favor by taking it home, but it is actually harmful to the tortoise and the tortoise population,” says Cristina Jones, Game and Fish’s turtles project coordinator.

    “Tortoises should not be handled for any length of time or brought home or into captivity. The best thing anyone can do is to leave tortoises in the wild.”

    Tortoise conservation partners include Saguaro National Park, Friends of Saguaro National Park, Arizona Game and Fish Department, Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, and Phoenix Herpetological Society.

    “Properly caring for a legally-adopted tortoise takes a lot of knowledge, and we cannot stress enough how detrimental it is for both the captive and wild tortoises to let a captive tortoise go free in the wild,” said Jones.

    Anyone interested in legally sharing their yard with a desert tortoise may adopt a tortoise if they are from Bullhead City, Kingman, Lake Havasu, Phoenix, Tucson and Yuma. For more information on the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Tortoise Adoption Program and enclosure requirements, visit www.azgfd.gov/tortoise.

    There are two populations of desert tortoise: the federally-listed Mojave desert tortoise found north and west of the Colorado River, and the Sonoran desert tortoise, which is protected by Game and Fish.

    Desert tortoises in Arizona are considered a species of greatest conservation need; those north and west of the Colorado River are among the threatened Mojave population.

    Through its partnerships with other public agencies, non-profit organizations and the science community, Game and Fish’s wildlife recovery program aims to keep common species common and prevent species from becoming listed as threatened or endangered, allowing for conservation in a more cost-effective manner. State-level involvement provides closer oversight of wildlife species on a day-to-day basis. Specific emphasis is placed on identifying and managing the wildlife and habitat of greatest conservation need, or those species that are no longer abundant and facing increasing threats from habitat degradation, disease, introduction of non-native species, and climate change.

    Adaptive management of these species helps ensure their continued presence in Arizona and protects the delicate balance of the ecosystem for future generations.

    Tortoise conservation in Arizona is supported by the Heritage Fund, a voter-passed initiative that was started in 1990 to further wildlife conservation efforts in the state through Arizona Lottery ticket sales.

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    Posted on 9th August 2010
    Under: Arizona News, Conservation Groups, General | No Comments »

    HOAL Has An Immediate Opening For A Sick Child

    I’m a volunteer with the Arizona Chapter of Hunt of a Lifetime. It looks like we have a bunch of potential tag donations this year so we are looking for kids with life-threatening illnesses that want to go on a hunt. Our immediate need is for an archery-proficient child. We have a donor willing to donate an 11M Arizona antelope tag (archery) . The season runs August 21 - Sept 2. We have guides lined up, for this hunt- when we can, all hunt expenses are paid. on HOAL sponsored hunts. For more info on this hunt contact me ASAP. If you have questions about getting a sick child on a hunt, or supporting HOAL, please let me know.

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    Posted on 5th August 2010
    Under: Archery, Arizona News, Conservation Groups, General, Hunting | No Comments »

    Huachucha Gold’s NWTF Chapter Hunter Heritage Banquet on July 31st

    The Huachuca Gould’s Chapter would like to invite you to their 12th Anniversary Hunter Heritage Banquet to be held on July 31, 2010 at the Knights of Columbus Hall, 156 W. Kayetan Drive, in Sierra Vista, with doors opening at 4:30PM. Thirteen quality firearms will be raffled, along with activities for children, women package raffles, many live and silent auction items from well known artists, bonus raffles and above all, fun for the entire family.

    Ticket costs are as follows: Single - $60.00, Couple - $90.00, JAKE - $30.00. Each ticket includes a one year membership into the NWTF, a dinner(s), and a chance at a door prize. NOTE: Ticket sales at the door on July 31 beginning at 4:30PM will cost an additional $5.00/person.

    Plan on arriving early to reserve a good seat, especially if attending as a group. No additional tables will be added to accommodate large groups.

    For more information on the banquet or upcoming activities sponsored by the Huachuca Gould’s Chapter please contact John Millican at 520-508-4272 or by email at: j2dbmill@msn.com or Steve Brown at 520-266-2282.

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    Posted on 29th July 2010
    Under: Arizona News, Conservation Groups, Events | No Comments »

    Az Deer Association Deer Hunting Clinic

    The Arizona Deer Association will be holding its Annual Deer Hunting Clinic on Saturday August 14, 2010 from 8:00 AM to 1:00 PM at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility located at 5000 W. Carefree Highway Phoenix, AZ. For more information visit us at www.azdeer.org or call (602) 395-DEER.

    This year’s clinic is free of charge and will be co-hosted with the Arizona Game and Fish Department. This will be a hands on clinic geared towards new hunters full of great information on deer hunting, tips, tactics, gear, meat care, cape preparation and proper use of optics to locate deer in the field.

    This will be a great opportunity to introduce new hunters to various hunting techniques while providing them the opportunity to gain hands on shooting and glassing experience with optics and guidance being provided.

    Hands on activities include assistance with rifle sighting in, youth archery shooting and hands on optics glassing techniques of 3D targets placed on the mountain side. The outdoor activities will take place from 8:00 AM to 11:00 AM at the BASF Rifle 1, Pistol 1&2 Ranges. This will be followed by a seminar in the Quail room at the Game and Fish main building from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM. where we will cover game care, hunt preparation and other topics to help make your hunt a success.

    After this full day of activities the Arizona Deer Association would like to invite everyone over to the BASF Activity Center near the small bore range for a free BBQ lunch and a free youth raffle featuring a .22 youth rifle. Representatives from the Arizona Game and Fish Dept. and the Arizona Deer Association will be on hand to answer your questions at the BBQ.

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    Posted on 29th July 2010
    Under: Arizona News, Conservation Groups, Events | No Comments »

    Up to $6,000 reward offered in Rocky Mountain bighorn ram poaching near Alpine

    Note to non-hunting public - hunters don’t do this. Brain-dead thieving pieces of fecal matter do. ~DesertRat

    Up to $6,000 reward offered in Rocky Mountain bighorn ram poaching near Alpine

    PINETOP, Ariz. — The Arizona Game and Fish Department is asking for the public’s help in finding the individual or individuals responsible for the illegal killing of a Rocky Mountain bighorn ram in the Black River area, west of Alpine, during the July 4 weekend.

    The wild sheep was illegally shot and killed in Game Management Unit 1 in eastern Arizona, adjacent to Forest Road 249.

    “This mature ram was commonly seen, photographed and enjoyed by many visitors to the area,” says Tyler Richins, wildlife manager in Unit 1. “It was needlessly killed and left to waste with nothing removed from the carcass.”

    “This isn’t the action of a hunter,” says Richins. “This is a criminal act of stealing wildlife assets and resources from the people of Arizona.”

    This crime is further compounded by the fact that this ram was part of the Black River bighorn herd, which, although having a stable population, has not been increasing in number for the last several years.

    “Removing this older age-class ram from the population may influence the department’s recommendations for future bighorn sheep hunting permits in this area. Bighorn sheep permits are highly sought after by sportsmen, who are a primary funding source for wildlife conservation,” notes Richins.

    The department received more than 300 applications for the single permit that was authorized in this area last spring.

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    Posted on 20th July 2010
    Under: Arizona News, Conservation Groups, General, Press Releases | No Comments »

    Environmentalists Absent From Border Debate

    I can’t remember the last time a week passed where I didn’t read about an environmentalist group that was upset about something. Sheep in Kofa, air quality in Maricopa county, owls, little fish, wolves - you name it. Groups like the Sierra Club and Center for Biological Diversity are not shy about speaking their minds and launching litigation. Sometimes they are on the mark, sometimes not. I would be interested in knowing however, why they think we should establish a vast “zone of protection” for visiting jaguars, but this is OK: Trash

    No matter which side of the immigration debate you’re on, it’s hard to deny the absolute and terrible damage being done to our desert ecosystems in Arizona. These are not isolated eyesores. Anyone who has been to southern Arizona can find mountains of trash. Trails cut into fragile desert areas, due to the foot traffic inflicted by tens of thousands of people heading north. “Lay-up” areas have been found in wilderness areas as far north as Phoenix and beyond. I have found trash just south of Florence. It is no exaggeration to say that there are washes full of trash that measures knee-deep. Not to mention the “rape trees” - trees decorated with ladies’ undergarments, victims of rape - trophies for the coyotes. For pictures of garbage, trails, abandoned vehicles - visit Desert Invasion.

    Step aside from the political and social problem of illegal immigration for a moment. Think purely of the ecological issues at hand. Imagine some of the issues you’ve heard or read about environmental groups taking on, and taking on with gusto. Does this issue not warrant their energy? Is it not serious enough? Look at the photos. Take a trip to the south - see for yourself. Where are the environmental groups? I guess when their political agenda is stronger than their supposed environmental motives, they suddenly lose their voice. Regardless of your thoughts on SB1070, regardless of your position on illegal immigration - look at the damage being done. Nobody should be hollering “build the danged fence” louder than the environmental groups. They are the self-proclaimed stewards - where are they?

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    Posted on 1st June 2010
    Under: Arizona News, Conservation Groups, General, Politics and More | 3 Comments »