2018 spring draw results available for AZGFD portal account holders

PHOENIX – Hunters who have an AZGFD portal account now can view their draw results for the 2018 spring turkey, javelina, bison and bear seasons. Simply log into your account, and you will be taken to your personal ‘My AZ Outdoors” page.

A portal account provides VIP access to draw results up to a week before results are released to the general public. It’s quick, easy and free to create a portal account. Visit https://www.azgfd.com/Account/Register and just fill in the required fields.

A portal account offers hunters a secure way to manage and view their contact information, as well as license details, draw results and bonus points, in their personal “My AZ Outdoors” section. It’s also mobile-friendly, which means customers can view their information on their smartphone.

Meanwhile, the department will post an announcement on its website when results officially are released. All permit-tags are anticipated to be mailed by December 13; all refund warrants by December 1.

For more information, call the department at (602) 942-3000.

Commission Appointment Recommendation Board to meet November 7

PHOENIX — The Arizona Game and Fish Commission Appointment Recommendation Board will meet on Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017, beginning at 9 a.m., to review and select for interview applicants for the 2018 vacancy on the Arizona Game and Fish Commission. The meeting will be held at the Arizona Game and Fish Department headquarters at 5000 W. Carefree Highway, Quail Room, in Phoenix and is open to the public.

See meeting agenda (PDF).

The board will meet again on Wednesday, Nov. 15, beginning at 9 a.m., to conduct interviews with the candidates who were selected at the Nov. 7 meeting. That meeting is also at 5000 W. Carefree Highway, Quail Room, in Phoenix and is open to the public. The board will select from two to five finalists at the Nov. 15 meeting and forward those names to Gov. Doug Ducey for his consideration.

Members of the Commission Appointment Recommendation Board are William “Jim” Lane (chair), Susan E. Chilton, W. Hays Gilstrap, Charles I. Kelly, and Phillip D. Townsend.

Per Arizona State Statute 17-202, the Arizona Game and Fish Commission Appointment Recommendation Board shall assist the governor by interviewing, evaluating and recommending candidates for appointment to the Arizona Game and Fish Commission. The Commission Appointment Recommendation Board shall recommend at least two, but no more than five, candidates to the governor. The governor must select and appoint a commissioner from the list submitted by the board.

For additional information about the Commission Appointment Recommendation Board, contact the Governor’s Office of Boards and Commissions at (602) 542-2449 or toll free at 1-800-253-0883 or on the web at www.azgovernor.gov.

For more information on the Arizona Game and Fish Commission, visit www.azgfd.gov/commission.

November 2 is deadline to update credit card information for online spring draw

PHOENIX – The Arizona Game and Fish Department reminds hunters who applied online for 2018 spring hunt permit-tags that 11:59 p.m. (Arizona time) Thursday, November 2, is the deadline to update their credit card or debit card account information, as well as purchase PointGuard to protect their bonus points.

Online applicants are responsible for keeping their account information current. If a credit card or debit card is invalid for any reason at the time when the computerized draw is performed, an online application could be rejected.

Online applicants who have been issued a new credit card or debit card, a new expiration date, or had a change to their card’s number should visit https://draw.azgfd.gov/. Scroll down the page, select “Update My Payment Information” and follow the prompts. Note: It is important to update payment information for each species for which an online application has been submitted. If payment has been declined, the application will not be drawn. The department no longer calls applicants to obtain payment on drawn applications where credit cards have failed.

Meanwhile, applicants can purchase PointGuard, as part of their online application, through 11:59 p.m. (Arizona time) Thursday, November 2. A free AZGFD portal account is required to purchase PointGuard. Visit www.azgfd.gov, click on the “My Account” button in the upper right-hand corner of the home page, then select the “Create Account” option.

PointGuard is a great way to protect those coveted bonus points for when “life happens.” PointGuard is only $5 per species, per applicant, and ensures if a successful applicant is unable to participate in a hunt for any reason, the accumulated bonus points that were expended to draw that hunt permit-tag will be reinstated. Visit https://www.azgfd.com/hunting/pointguard/, or call (602) 942-3000, for more information.

Another benefit for those who create a portal account is getting VIP access to draw results up to a week before the results are released to the general public. The department will post an announcement on its website when results become available. All spring hunt permit-tags will be mailed by December 13; all refund warrants will be mailed by December 1.

When hunting for waterfowl by boat, prepare for the unexpected

Photo courtesy of the U.S. Coast Guard

Waterfowl hunting season spans months in Arizona, first starting in the high country in October and moving into bigger bodies of water as we get closer to the New Year. While firearm safety is paramount for hunters, those planning on using boats and watercraft in pursuit of waterfowl also need to make life jackets and other safety precautions a top priority.

“Hunting is an important family tradition for many in Arizona, and taking the step of wearing a life jacket while pursuing ducks and other waterfowl will help ensure you have a successful day on the water,” said Josh Hoffman, boating safety education coordinator for the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

Life jackets are particularly important as the temperatures drop. While Arizona winters are mild, cold water immersion and hypothermia can occur in water as cool as 70 degrees. Falling into or entering cold water causes an immediate gasp reflex that can fill the person’s lungs with water. Wearing a life jacket will keep the person’s head above water and body on the surface.

If you do fall overboard, stay calm, move slowly and don’t try to take off clothing while in the water. And if the boat has capsized, it most likely will not sink and can be used as a platform. It’s advised that boaters stay on top of the capsized vessel as much as possible in order to stay out of the water.

The National Safe Boating Council lists six safety tips for boating in cold water:

1. Proper clothing. Wear waterproof fabrics and layer clothing (i.e., layer one is a wicking base, layer two is clothing for added warmth, and layer three is an outer shell to keep out water or wind). Avoid cotton as it absorbs water and quickly reduces body temperature.

2. Float coat. A float coat provides the comfortable fit and warmth of an insulated jacket, while also providing the functionality of a life jacket. A float coat does not provide hypothermia protection or replace anti-exposure coveralls or a dry suit. Be sure to check that it’s U.S. Coast Guard-approved.

3. Dry suit. A dry suit, or anti-exposure coveralls, keeps the boater dry and protects him or her from hypothermia. It’s worn over proper clothing layers. Boaters should try it on with their clothing layers to ensure they still have needed mobility for the boating activity.

4. Life jacket. If boaters are not wearing a float coat, they should wear their life jacket at all times while on the water.

5. Communication devices. A boater should carry at least two communication devices that will work when wet, such as a VHF FM-DSC marine band radio and an emergency position-indicating radio beacon or personal locator beacon.

6. Blankets. Keep emergency spare blankets on board in case someone is suffering from hypothermia symptoms.

Boaters also can brush up on their knowledge by taking one of the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s free education courses. Class schedules and details are posted online.

Hunters, please save that tracking collar

PHOENIX — The Arizona Game and Fish Department is encouraging hunters who harvest a big game animal affixed with a GPS or VHF tracking collar to return that collar undamaged to any department office statewide.

While harvesting a collared animal is legal, Game and Fish asks hunters to refrain from cutting, damaging or otherwise destroying any portion of a collar. A collar easily can be removed from a harvested animal’s neck by loosening two nuts on the black “drop-off” box on one side of the collar. A crescent wrench, socket wrench or multi-use tool can be used to loosen only those two nuts.

The department relies on valuable data that collars provide in making science-based decisions that determine the most effective wildlife management practices. The stored data can include an animal’s behaviors, movement patterns and frequency, individual and group dynamics, home-range size and more.

The technology is costs money. A collar can range in cost up to several thousands of dollars. When factoring in additional costs of human resources, equipment and capture, the department is making a substantial investment in each collared animal. A portion of the funding comes from the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration (WSFR) program, a stalwart national funding source for state conservation and recreational opportunities.

It’s also helpful for hunters to report the date and location of their harvest when returning an undamaged collar to a department office. For more information, call (602) 942-3000.

AZGFD asks hunters to help keep Chronic Wasting Disease at bay

PHOENIX — The Arizona Game and Fish Department is asking hunters to continue doing their part to help keep Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), a neurodegenerative wildlife disease that is fatal to deer and elk, at bay.

All successful deer and elk hunters are encouraged to bring the head of their harvested animal, especially bucks and bulls, to any department office statewide between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. The preferred method for delivery is to place the head in a heavy-duty plastic trash bag, and keep it cool and out of the sun.

The department also requests hunters to provide accurate hunter information (name, telephone number), as well as hunt information (hunt number, game management unit in which the animal was harvested, state and hunting license number). This information is crucial should a positive CWD sample occur.

Department officials did not find any cases of CWD in the 1,200-plus deer (mule and white-tailed) and elk that were harvested by hunters and voluntarily submitted for testing in 2016. Game and Fish has been testing for the presence of the disease in Arizona since 1998. While CWD has been found in the neighboring states of Utah, New Mexico and Colorado, the disease has not been detected in Arizona. CWD has not been documented to cause disease in people.

CWD is transmitted and spread by animal movement and direct contact, which means the illegal importation of a cervid carcass or parts with brain or spinal column tissue of an infected animal could introduce the disease into Arizona. To that point, an individual is only allowed to possess, transport or import the following portions of cervids lawfully taken in another state or country:

  • Boneless portions of meat, or meat that has been cut and packaged.
  • Clean hides and capes with no skull or soft tissue attached.
  • Antlers, clean skull plates or skulls with antlers attached with no meat or soft tissue remaining.
  • Finished taxidermy mounts or products (hunters may ship their harvested animal to a taxidermist)
  • Upper canine teeth with no meat or tissue attached.
  • Do not bring the brain, intact skull or spinal column of a deer or elk harvested in another state back into Arizona.

It may take longer than a year before an infected animal develops symptoms of CWD, which can include drastic weight loss (wasting), stumbling, listlessness and other neurological symptoms. CWD can affect animals of all ages, although it’s most frequently noticed in older animals. CWD is fatal, and there are no treatments or vaccines.

All hunters are advised not to shoot, handle or consume any animal that is acting abnormally or appears to be sick. Wear latex or rubber gloves when field dressing deer or elk. All hunters are asked to contact the department at 1-(800)-352-0700 if they see or harvest an animal that appears to be sick.

Forest Service seeks public input on issuance of new permit to operate Elk Ridge Ski Area near Williams

WILLIAMS – The Kaibab National Forest is seeking input and responding to any inquiries members of the public may have regarding issuance of a new permit to operate the Elk Ridge Ski Area near Williams.

The Forest Service is considering issuance of a new term permit to reflect a change in the ownership of the ski area, which is being purchased by Arizona Snowbowl to include in the Mountain Capital Partners collection of resorts – Arizona Snowbowl, Purgatory Resort, Sipapu Ski & Summer Resort, Pajarito Mountain Ski Area, and Hesperus Ski Area.

The issuance of the new term permit by the Kaibab National Forest is dependent on evaluation and acceptance of an application from Arizona Snowbowl and would be for assuming the current operations at Elk Ridge starting this winter. No changes to existing facilities or operations would be authorized with the issuance of this new term permit.

Following issuance of a new permit, Arizona Snowbowl may propose updates to the facility master plan in the future, which would be considered by the Forest Service in a separate environmental analysis in accordance with requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act.

Elk Ridge Ski Area encompasses 37 acres and is located on Bill Williams Mountain on the Williams Ranger District of the Kaibab National Forest. The current ski area term permit authorizes public operation of the ski area during the winter from November through April to provide downhill skiing and tubing opportunities.

Existing improvements within the permit area boundary include two surface lifts, a ski lodge, a parking area, eight cleared ski and tubing runs, and other supporting infrastructure. Under current conditions, some of the existing ski area improvements will require considerable maintenance and repairs and possible replacement. Summer operations include maintenance activities and infrequent, small special events held at the lodge, which are approved on a case-by-case basis by the Forest Service.

The issuance of a new permit for an existing ski area is considered an administrative change when the only modification is in ownership of ski area improvements.

Members of the public with questions or seeking to provide comments about the issuance of a new term permit should do so no later than Nov. 3 by contacting Liz Schuppert, Public Services Staff Officer, Kaibab National Forest, 800 S. Sixth Street, Williams, Arizona 86046; telephone 928-635-8367; fax 928-635-8208, or e-mail comments-southwestern-kaibab-williams@fs.fed.us.

Members of the public can find additional information on the Kaibab National Forest through the following sources:

Twitter: www.twitter.com/KaibabNF (Text ‘follow kaibabnf’ to 40404 to receive text messages.)
Kaibab website: www.fs.usda.gov/kaibab
Kaibab Facebook: www.facebook.com/KaibabNF

As boating season winds down, prepare your safety gear for 2018

PHOENIX – Fall marks the end of boating season for many in Northern Arizona and as owners prepare to stow their watercraft until the spring, it’s an ideal time to inspect life jackets, safety gear and mechanical equipment. Getting repairs done in the offseason and taking stock of safety equipment will help ensure a successful start to the 2018 boating season — and it’ll give you a few more quality hours with the boat before storing it.

“Take advantage of the end of the boating season to look for anything that may need repairing and to take inventory of life jackets and other safety gear,” said Josh Hoffman, boating safety education coordinator for the Arizona Game and Fish Department. “By doing this now, you will have a head start in the spring and can make sure all the mechanical equipment is working properly and that all safety gear is stored correctly.”

The following steps will help ensure the boat or watercraft is stored properly for next year and you’re ready to safely hit the water in 2018:

1. Inspect life jackets for any rips, tears, mold, mildew and worn areas. Also check to see whether the label is still readable before storing life jackets in a dry location. Arizona’s climate is tough on life jackets, and on average they need to be replaced every five years. If you own an inflatable-type life jacket visually check to ensure there are no rips, tears, excessive abrasion or holes, all seams are securely sewn, and the cover, straps and hardware are still strong. It would also be a good idea to test the inflatable for leakage. Orally inflate your life jacket until firm and then let it sit inflated for 16 hours. A life jacket with a leak in it will not hold its firmness and should be replaced.

2. Check the fire extinguisher to ensure it’s sufficiently charged. If not, make a note to recharge or replace it before the next boating season or your next outing.

3. As every watercraft owner should do every time he or she leaves the lake, pull the vessel’s drain plug, and dry and clean the hull. Doing so helps prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species like quagga mussels.

4. Make sure propellers are free of dings, pitting, cracks and distortion, and that they are secured properly. Inspect the hull for blisters, distortions and cracks.

5. Check the fuel system for any leaks or damages, giving special attention to fuel lines and connections. Damaged fuel hoses could either be cracked, brittle or soft. Also ensure the engine exhaust and ventilation systems are functioning properly. As with fuel lines, inspect all belts, cables and hoses that may have been damaged during the season. Ensure belts are fitted tightly and that there are no cracks on the outer jacket of the throttle, shift and steering control cables.

6. Brush up on your boating knowledge by taking one of the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s free safety courses. The classes are offered in Phoenix and Lake Havasu City every month to provide boaters with the information and tips needed to stay safe while on the water. Get more information and sign up for a course online.

For more information about storing your boat or watercraft during the offseason, BoatUS has numerous articles covering topics like tips for storage on the water as well as a PDF checklist detailing the steps to winterize a boat.

North Kaibab Ranger District announces changes in winter hours, closures

FREDONIA – Forest staff would like to remind visitors of the following changes for the upcoming winter season.

DeMotte Campground: The last night to camp is Oct. 14. This campground is scheduled to close for the winter season on Oct. 15 at noon.

Jacob Lake & Group Site Campgrounds: The last night to camp at these campgrounds will be Oct. 18. Both campgrounds are scheduled to close for the winter season on Oct. 19 at noon.

Big Springs & Jumpup Cabin Rentals: The last night to camp at Big Springs or Jump Up cabins is Nov. 2, unless inclement weather forces an earlier closure.

Information regarding campsites reservations, cabin rentals, and cancellations may be found at https://www.recreation.gov/.

Kaibab Plateau Visitor Center: Beginning Oct. 21 through Nov. 26, the Kaibab Plateau Visitor Center at Jacob Lake will only be open on Saturdays and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. During these hours, fuelwood permits will be available to purchase at the Visitor Center.

2017 Personal-Use Fuelwood Cutting Season: Permits are still available at the district office during regular business hours. As a reminder, all unused personal-use fuelwood cutting permits will not be valid after Nov. 30. Wood cutting permit sales will resume in May 2018 pending appropriate weather conditions. Additional information on fuelwood permits is available at https://go.usa.gov/xncXn.

AZGFD makes change to Wild Trout Challenge

PHOENIX – The Arizona Game and Fish Department is temporarily suspending the requirement for anglers to catch a Gila trout in order to complete the Wild Trout Challenge.

With the closure of Frye Creek, there is no longer a wild population of Gila trout open to fishing.

The Arizona Trout Challenge, which requires anglers to catch six of the eight total species in Arizona, remains unchanged since the closure to Frye Creek will not affect anglers trying to catch stocked Gila trout in Frye Mesa Reservoir.

In June, the 48,000-acre Frye Fire severely impacted the habitat in Frye Creek and nearby Ash Creek, and both populations of Gila trout, listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, were effected by post-fire flood events that moved large amounts of ash, sediment and debris through the creeks.

Survey crews did not find any Gila trout in the creek, said Tracy Stephens, AZGFD’s Native Trout Biologist.

See more information about AZGFD’s trout challenges.