Wolves, Deer Poachers and Doves

05 September 2015   AZ Game and Fish
Updates from Az Game and Fish
  • Arizona files motion to intervene in federal Mexican wolf lawsuit
  • Investigators need help catching deer poacher(s) in Flagstaff
  • AZGFD director reappointed to prominent presidential wildlife coun
  • Plenty of doves greet hunters on opening day
  • 10 tips for safe, responsible OHV riding during Labor Day weekend
  • Paper applications for 2016 spring hunts now being accepted
  • Help needed to document endangered black-footed ferret numbers
  • Life Jacket Loaner Stations debut at Lake Havasu, Lake Mohave

Arizona files motion to intervene in federal Mexican wolf lawsuit

PHOENIX – The State of Arizona and Office of the Arizona Attorney General this week filed a motion to intervene in a lawsuit brought by several groups in July against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service). The lawsuit challenges some aspects of the Service’s revised 10(j) rule that governs the management of Mexican wolves in Arizona and New Mexico.

“The Arizona Game and Fish Department took this action to defend the state’s interests with respect tothe Service’s revised 10(j) rule for Mexican wolves. The parameters in the revised 10(j) rule use sound scientific principles and address critical stakeholder concerns, one of the primary obstacles to successfully reestablishing Mexican wolves,” said Larry Voyles, director of the Arizona Game and Fish Department. “The groups that filed the suit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on this aspect of the reintroduction project lack an on-the-ground perspective of what changes will have the highest likelihood of success for Mexican wolves.”

The Service worked extensively with Arizona Game and Fish, as required by the Endangered Species Act (ESA), to develop the revised 10(j) rule. The coordination that took place between the Service and Game and Fish sought to balance the needs and interests of the Mexican wolf reintroduction project, local stakeholders and all other wildlife species held in trust by the department. The changes reflected in the revised 10(j) greatly increase the contribution made within the American Southwest to overall Mexican wolf recovery, which is a requirement of the ESA.

The lawsuit filed by WildEarth Guardians and others in July alleges the Service’s cooperation with the department is a violation of federal law.

One of the points criticized in the revised 10(j) rule concerns expansion of the area to be occupied by Mexican wolves. In recommending the expansion of the 10(j) area by more than eight-times its previous size, the department used extensive biological studies to guide its recommendation for westward expansion of wolves in Arizona.

Studies clearly indicate a relatively sparse ungulate population in western Arizona that is inadequate for supporting wolves. To allow wolves in the initial phase of expansion to disperse and occupy areas with limited prey is likely to lead to more conflicts between wolves and humans and domestic animals while providing limited value to wolf conservation.

Critics also disagree with the population objective defined in the new rule, although it is more than triple the population goal defined in the current Mexican wolf management plan. The population objective for Arizona’s 10(j) area is an important component of Mexican wolf recovery, but full recovery must incorporate Mexico as well, given that 90 percent of the historical habitat for Mexican wolves is south of the international border. ESA also maintains that a sub-species/ species should only be reestablished within its historical range, which the revised 10(j) rule accomplishes. The new rule will allow wolves a corridor to disperse into Mexico. Interconnection between wolves in Mexico and those in the Arizona-New Mexico population will increase genetic diversity. .

For more information on Mexican wolves, visit www.azgfd.gov/wolf .

Investigators need help catching deer poacher(s) in Flagstaff

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – The Arizona Game and Fish Department is investigating two separate incidences where poachers illegally used archery equipment to shoot and injure two mule deer bucks within the City of Flagstaff.

The first incident occurred at approximately 12:30 p.m. Aug. 23 near the YMCA, between Turquoise and Switzer Canyon roads. The poacher shot a mule deer buck in the head with an arrow and left the scene after witnesses saw him and the injured buck.

Game and Fish officers tried to locate the suspect and the injured buck, but were unsuccessful. There were several sightings of the injured deer days following the incident and officials are hopeful that the animal will survive.

The second incident occurred at approximately 1 p.m. Aug. 26. Game and Fish officials received information that another mule deer buck was injured and was severely bleeding near the corner of Forest Ave. and N. Turquoise Road. It appeared that the buck was shot by an arrow in its hind quarter.

Flagstaff police responded, but were unable to locate the poacher. Four days later, a local resident found a carcass of a buck near the intersection of Fur and N. Turquoise roads on a hiking trail leading into Buffalo Park. Game and Fish Officers confirmed this was the same deer from Aug. 26 incident due to the arrow injury to the hind quarter.

The archery deer season was open when the poaching incidents took place, but hunting within Flagstaff city limits and within a quarter-mile of any structure or residence is illegal under state law.

Anyone with information about the cases can call the Department’s Operation Game Thief Hotline toll free at (800) 352-0700 or use the online form at www.azgfd.gov/thief. Callers should provide case number 15-002558 for the case involving the buck struck in the head and 15-002661 for the case involving the buck shot in the hind quarter. Callers may remain confidential upon request. A reward of up to $1,500 is being offered on each of these cases for information leading to the arrest of the violator(s). To learn more about Operation Game Thief, visit www.azgfd.gov/thief


AZGFD director reappointed to prominent presidential wildlife council

PHOENIX – The U.S. Secretary of the Interior and U.S. Agriculture Secretary announced recently the reappointment of Arizona Game and Fish Director Larry Voyles to the Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council. Voyles serves on behalf of the 50 state wildlife agencies as the state wildlife agency representative on the council, which was established in 2010 to advise the departments on wildlife conservation, habitat conservation and hunting. Larry_Voyles.jpg

The three-year appointment is an important means for ensuring Arizona’s wildlife and natural resource interests are represented at a national level.

This represents Voyles’ second appointment to the presidentially-established 18-member council.

The council is an official advisory group established under the Federal Advisory Committee Act that helps promote and preserve America's wildlife and hunting heritage for future generations. The council provides advice on conservation endeavors to both the Department of Interior and Agriculture that benefit wildlife resources and recreational hunting. It also encourages partnership among the public, sporting conservation organizations, states, Native American tribes and the federal government.


Plenty of doves greet hunters on opening day

YUMA, Ariz. – When it comes to premier dove hunting, there’s no place – certainly not in the U.S. -- that offers better wing-shooting action than Yuma. It’s a reputation that’s well-deserved. Banners on street poles welcome hunters by the thousands. Hotels and restaurants are packed. The lead story on the cover of Monday’s Yuma Sun newspaper? Dove hunting.

It’s a festival-like atmosphere, drawing thousands of dove hunters from across the state and Southwest who pump $2 million to $5 million into the city’s economy, according to the Yuma Visitors Bureau.

A group of eight hunters, including a California couple whose outdoors passions include bird hunting throughout North America, couldn’t wait for the sun to come up Tuesday morning and usher in the beginning of the 2015 season. They would be hunting private farmland near Tacna, about 40 miles east of Yuma, in a field of wheat stubble edged by cottonwood trees and thick scrub.

It wasn’t long after first light when a wave of mourning doves came darting and diving across the field, providing a flurry of fast-paced shooting action. The flights weren’t steady, but there were more than enough doves – from singles all the way up to small groups containing six, eight, 10 birds – for most of the hunters to fill their 15-bird daily bag limit before mid-morning. A few of the larger white-winged doves made up part of those limits, and even one bigger and lighter-colored Eurasian collared-dove was taken. There is no limit on Eurasians, an invasive species.

The season runs through Sept. 15. The daily bag limit is 15 mourning doves and white-winged doves, of which no more than 10 may be white-winged. The possession limit is 45 mourning doves and white-winged doves in the aggregate after opening day, of which no more than 15 may be taken in any one day. Of the 45-dove possession limit, only 30 may be white-winged, of which no more than 10 may be taken in any one day. Again, there is no daily bag or possession limit on Eurasian collared-doves.

For more information, visit www.azgfd.gov/dove . For more information about hunting in the Yuma area, visit www.yumadovehunting.com.

10 tips for safe, responsible OHV riding during Labor Day weekend

PHOENIX – With the Labor Day weekend upon us, many Arizona residents and visitors are planning to hop on their off highway vehicle (OHV). Before hitting the trail, the Arizona Game and Fish Department reminds operators and passengers to do so safely and responsibly by following these 10 tips: OHV-O_H_V-021.jpg

  1. Always wear a helmet. Whether riding in a side-by-side utility-type vehicle (UTV), all-terrain vehicle (ATV) or dirt bike, all riders younger than18 years old are legally required to wear a Department of Transportation-approved helmet. Helmets are strongly recommended for all riders older than 18.
  2. Eye protectionis legally required for all riders if the OHV is not equipped with a windshield.
  3. Wear proper clothing, including riding gloves, a long-sleeve shirt, pants and over-the-ankle boots.
  4. Supervise children under 16 years old. Be sure your child is riding an age-appropriate vehicle. Machines may be too large and powerful for a child to safely operate. Parents are responsible for their children’s safety.
  5. Only ride with the number of passengers for which the machine is designed. One of the biggest causes of OHV-related injuries is riding with more than the recommended number of passengers. Proper riding techniques require operators to shift their weight and change position to keep control of the machine. Carrying a passenger can make riding difficult and change how the vehicle responds.
  6. Stay on designated trails.One of the biggest threats to sustainable OHV recreation in Arizona is the closure of riding areas due to irresponsible use. Protect the state’s fragile natural resources, and your ability to visit such spots, by staying on designated trails and avoiding sensitive habitat areas.
  7. Be prepared and equipped.Take area maps and guides, and have a compass, first aid kit, whistle, tire repair kit, tow rope or chain and other basic tools on hand. Also make sure to bring sunscreen, water and food.
  8. Avoid drinking alcohol and/or drugs. Operating any vehicle under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs is always illegal, regardless of what type of vehicle you’re operating. Alcohol and drugs drastically impair a person’s judgement, responsiveness and ability to operate the machine safely.
  9. Register your OHV and purchase an OHV Decal.All vehicles designed primarily for travel on unimproved terrain and weighing less than 1,800 pounds are required to have an OHV Decal to operate on public and state lands. License plates and decals are available at any Arizona Motor Vehicle Division location or at www.servicearizona.com .
  10. Maintain your machine properly, especially the spark arrester and muffler. Arresters help to protect against sparking a wildfire and mufflers help to reduce the noise emitted by OHVs.

For more information about OHV riding in Arizona, including a list of locations to ride statewide, visit www.azgfd.gov/OHV .

Paper applications for 2016 spring hunts now being accepted

PHOENIX – The Arizona Game and Fish Department has posted the “2016 Spring Turkey, Javelina, Bison and Bear Hunt Draw Information” online at www.azgfd.gov/draw .

The department now is accepting paper applications for 2016 spring hunt permit-tags issued through the draw process for spring turkey, javelina, bison and bear. The online application service is expected to be available in early to mid-September.

Paper applications can be mailed: Arizona Game and Fish Department, Attn.: Drawing Section, P.O. Box 74020, Phoenix, AZ 85087-1052, or dropped off at any department office statewide.

The deadline for all spring hunt permit-tag applications is 11:59 p.m. (MST) Tuesday, Oct. 13 – later than the traditional 7 p.m. deadline. Paper applications must be received by the department by the deadline. Postmarks do not count.

The printed “2016 Spring Turkey, Javelina, Bison and Bear Hunt Draw Information” booklets are expected to be available at department offices and license dealers statewide in early September.

Applicants must possess an Arizona hunting license to apply for a spring hunt permit-tag. That license must be valid through the last day of the spring hunt permit-tag application period (Oct. 13). Licenses now are valid one year from the time of purchase. Licenses can be purchased online at https://azgfdportal.az.gov/License , or at any department office or license dealer statewide.

As a reminder, applicants should thoroughly read and understand the appropriate regulations before submitting a hunt permit-tag application or before going afield.


Help needed to document endangered black-footed ferret numbers

SELIGMAN, Ariz. – The Arizona Game and Fish Department is seeking dedicated volunteers to help document endangered black-footed ferret numbers.


As part of the black-footed ferret recovery effort, Game and Fish personnel will be conducting two fall spotlighting events, which serve as the method used to document the population of this elusive, nocturnal and endangered carnivore.

The dates of the two efforts are Sept. 24 to 28 and Oct. 22 to 26. Those wishing to assist can volunteer for one night or multiple nights. The effort is conducted at the black-footed ferret recovery area in Aubrey Valley, west of Seligman.

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

Volunteers can witness the processing of the animals, which allow researchers to understand population, longevity and movement throughout the range.

Volunteers must be able to stay attentive from sunset to sunrise and be willing to learn how to use a Global Positioning System (GPS). A parent or guardian must accompany any youth under 18.

Those wishing to volunteer, or needing more information, should e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by Sept. 21 for the earlier effort and by Oct. 19 for the later opportunity. Please write “Fall Spotlighting” with “September,” “October” or “Both” in the subject line. Individuals should indicate which night(s) they are available. They also should include their full name, a contact phone number, and whether anyone else will be attending with them.

Additional information will be sent following contact, including meeting location and times.

Volunteers also should note any of the following equipment they can bring: GPS, clipboard, headlamp, pen, binoculars, walkie-talkies, 4x4 vehicle (please list passenger capacity), compass, or a spotlight that is either rechargeable or can plug into a cigarette lighter.

The weather can be cool, so individuals need to dress appropriately.


Life Jacket Loaner Stations debut at Lake Havasu, Lake Mohave

LAKE HAVASU CITY, Ariz. – The Arizona Game and Fish Department is working to save lives on Arizona’s waterways by helping to prevent drownings at Lake Mohave and Lake Havasu with the installation of new Life Jacket Loaner Stations.

AZGFD staff will complete installation of the two newest stations Thursday at Windsor Beach State Park on Lake

Havasu. While there, AZGFD will meet with the media at the south and north boat ramps to highlight the history of the program and its goal of protecting boaters and watercraft users from drowning. Life_Jacket_Loaner_-_Katherine_s_Landing_1_reduced.jpg

Those needing a life jacket – for whatever reason – may borrow one from the station, head out onto the lake and return it before they leave. The safety of our water users is our utmost concern and we want to make sure people have as safe and fun an experience as possible.

The two new stations at Lake Havasu follow one other that was recently installed in partnership with the National Park Service at Katherine’s Landing on Lake Mohave. Stations have also been installed at Lake Pleasant north of Phoenix and others are planned for the fall.

The stations will hold jackets for infants, child/youth, adult and over-sized passengers. However, users are reminded to return the jackets once they are done with them.

Having life jackets not only provides immediate protection for the boater, but may save a boater from receiving a citation for not having their children in a life jacket. State law requires all passengers 12 years old and younger to wear a life jacket while on board and each passenger must have a properly fitting, Coast Guard-approved life jacket available. Anyone being towed by a boat or on a personal watercraft such as a Sea Doo or Jet Ski also must wear a life jacket.

Drowning is the most common cause of death in boating incidents. In 2013, six of nine boating-related fatalities in Arizona were due to drowning. Last year there were five boating-related drownings, according to AZGFD law enforcement figures.

For more information on boating in Arizona or to sign up for a safety course, visit www.azgfd.gov/boating .