Commission Appointment Recommendation Board to interview four candidates

PHOENIX — The Arizona Game and Fish Commission Appointment Recommendation Board will interview four candidates for the governor’s appointment to fill a 2018 vacancy on the Arizona Game and Fish Commission.

The meeting on Wednesday, November 15, begins at 9 a.m. at the Arizona Game and Fish Department headquarters, 5000 W. Carefree Highway in Phoenix. An agenda will be posted in advance at www.azgfd.gov/board.

The following candidates will be interviewed: Leland Brake; Kelly Clark; Bobby Cooper; James Goughnour. They were chosen from a list of 9 applicants considered by the board at its November 7 public meeting. After the interviews, the board will select between two and four candidates to forward to the governor for consideration.

Per Arizona Revised 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 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.

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.

AZGFD treats orphaned 8-week-old mountain lion cub

PHOENIX — The Arizona Game and Fish Department is caring for an approximately eight-week-old mountain lion cub found in the Cornville area.

The cub was spotted by Cornville residents and reported to AZGFD on three separate occasions. Each time, the reporting residents did the right thing, leaving the animal alone, because the mother of a young animal is typically nearby. In this case, the mother never returned after two weeks and AZGFD biologists determined that in this situation, it was best to intervene.

The female cub was picked up from a nearby licensed wildlife rehabilitator and transferred to AZGFD on Friday, Nov. 3. To determine the overall health and condition of the cub, it was given a full examination by veterinarians at the Arizona Exotic Animal Hospital. The veterinarians found the cub to be in poor-to-fair health.

“Mountain lions are truly resilient animals, but this one likely would not have made it without human intervention and specialized care at the Wildlife Center,” said Mike Demlong, AZGFD Wildlife Education program manager. “When we received the cub, it was lethargic, severely dehydrated and emaciated. She needed help immediately. We’re currently doing everything possible to improve the health of this cub and give her the strongest chance for survival.”

Providing a fighting chance for wildlife needing a helping hand isn’t anything new for the AZGFD Wildlife Center, but such a rescue can often be costly.

To provide better care for sick, injured, orphaned and confiscated wildlife, AZGFD is planning to build a new wildlife center at the department’s headquarters in north Phoenix. With limited funding available for the project, the department is seeking the public’s help.

The public can donate to AZGFD’s ongoing “Be a Hero for Wildlife” donation campaign and assist many different species of wildlife in need by texting CRITTER to 41444 from any smartphone or visit www.azgfd.gov/WildlifeCenter.

“Helping injured wildlife — and especially baby wildlife — is the best part of my job,” said Demlong. “In regards to this mountain lion cub, I know I’ve made a difference. It’s rewarding knowing that we’ve taken an animal that was nearly dead and with time, good nutrition and care we’re able to turn it into a rambunctious, playful mountain lion cub.”

The cub will remain with AZGFD until a permanent wildlife sanctuary, wildlife park or zoo can be found to give it a forever home. Unfortunately, because it was orphaned it cannot be returned to the wild. Mountain lion cubs spend a year or more with their mom learning critical survival skills. This cub will not have that opportunity.

In addition to donations, the public can also help keep wildlife wild by leaving baby wildlife alone. The situation with this cub is an exception, but in general baby wildlife is rarely orphaned or abandoned. One or both of its parents is likely nearby searching for food and will return.

For more information on Arizona’s diverse wildlife or the Wildlife Center, visit www.azgfd.gov.​​​​​​​

Tonto National Forest to hold public meetings on preliminary proposed management plan

The Tonto National Forest has announced that the Tonto Preliminary Proposed Plan, the first step toward revising the current Tonto National Forest land and resource management plan, will be released for public comment on Monday, November 6, 2017. Forest officials are hosting eight public meetings in November to share information with the public about the preliminary plan, the next steps in the plan revision process, and how to get involved to help shape the future management of the Tonto National Forest.

Meeting dates, times and locations are:

  1. Tuesday, November 7, from 5 – 7 p.m. (Mesa)
    Franklin at Brimhall Elementary/Franklin Junior High, 4949 East Southern Ave, Mesa
  2. Wednesday, November 8, from 5 – 7 p.m. (Cave Creek)
    Desert Foothills Library, 38443 North Schoolhouse Road, Cave Creek
  3. Monday, November 13, from 5 – 7 p.m. (Roosevelt)
    Tonto Basin Ranger District Office – Roosevelt Lake Visitor Center, 28097 AZ-188, Roosevelt
  4. Tuesday, November 14, from 5 – 7 p.m. (Payson)
    Payson High School, 301 South McLane, Payson
  5. Wednesday, November 15, from 2 – 4 p.m. (Young)
    Pleasant Valley Community Center, Highway 288, Young
  6. Thursday, November 16, from 5 – 7pm (Globe/Miami)
    Bullion Plaza Cultural Center, 150 North Plaza Circle, Miami
  7. Monday, November 20, from 5 – 7pm (Superior)
    Superior Junior/Senior High School, 100 W Mary Dr., Superior
  8. Tuesday, November 21, from 5 – 7pm (Phoenix)
    24th Street Conference Center, 1841 N 24th St #10, Phoenix

The Tonto National Forest is developing a revised land and resource management plan for the Tonto National Forest, utilizing the 2012 planning rule. The current plan, approved in 1985, is outdated and does not address current issues relevant to the Tonto National Forest including recreation, healthy watersheds, open spaces, ecosystem restoration and wildlife.

More information about the meetings will be available on the plan revision website www.tontoplan.org. Those with additional questions are encouraged to contact the Tonto National Forest via email at: tontoplan@fs.fed.us.

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.

Information sought about cow elk poached in Alpine Valley closure area

PINETOP, Arizona — The Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) is seeking information about a cow elk poached near Alpine in the early morning on Thursday, October 26. The elk was shot in the Alpine Valley closure, south of Luna Lake. There was a legal hunt for cow elk open during this time.

AZGFD officers believe that other hunters in the area may have seen the violation occur.

“Anyone who saw or heard anything that might be related to this unlawful act should call in,” said Officer Aaron Hartzell, an AZGFD field supervisor. “This isn’t the action of a sportsman; it’s a criminal act of stealing wildlife resources from the people of Arizona.”

The department’s Operation Game Thief program encourages anyone with information about such cases or the illegal take of wildlife in Arizona to call its 24/7 hotline at (800) 352-0700 or visit www.azgfd.gov/ogt.

Anyone reporting information about this case can remain anonymous and are eligible for a reward of up to $500. Reward funding comes from donations, court fines and civil restitution by violators who commit wildlife crimes.

Anyone with information about the elk poaching should refer to case #17-4152.

Sandhill cranes winging their way back to Arizona

McNEAL, Arizona — It happens every year. As if on cue, they pick up and travel thousands of miles from places like Idaho, Wyoming and Montana, and some from as far away as Canada, Alaska and even Siberia.

They are Arizona’s true “snowbirds,” content to spend winter days basking under mild, sunny skies before getting the itch to turn around and head back north sometime in March or early April.

For the past few weeks, sandhill cranes by the thousands have been trumpeting their annual arrival in southeastern Arizona, primarily at the Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area in the Sulphur Springs Valley – and a lot more of them are on the way.

“We are excited to see the sandhill cranes return for the winter,” said Randy Babb, watchable wildlife program manager for the Arizona Game and Fish Department. “While there are only a few thousand in the area now, their numbers will grow to more than 30,000 before they migrate in the spring.

“The cranes afford wildlife lovers one of Arizona’s greatest wildlife spectacles through visual and sound experiences that most of us will never forget.”

The department’s Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area serves as a roosting and loafing place for the cranes and offers viewing decks and trails from which other migratory birds, such as waterfowl, grassland sparrows and an assortment of raptors, often can be seen. The fields surrounding the Willcox Playa in the vicinity of Kansas Settlement, or farther south near Elfrida and McNeal, also are good places to see cranes. In western Arizona, along the Colorado River south of Ehrenberg, many cranes winter at the Cibola National Wildlife Refuge.

For those who can’t make the trip to view the raucous birds with long necks, beaks and legs, the department has made it convenient for anyone with an Internet connection to enjoy this thrilling wildlife-watching experience. This marks the third year that a “crane cam” will live stream the wintering habits of the cranes at the Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area.

The live stream can be viewed at HERE. It even has audio. The best time to see the birds is about the first hour after sunrise, before they leave the roost to feed for the morning. The cranes usually return later in the morning (before noon) and remain at the wildlife area for the rest of the day. On occasion, the birds will fly out to feed again in the afternoon and return at dusk.

The department will do its best to keep the camera focused on the cranes, but there might be times when that’s not possible due to the unpredictability of wildlife. Viewers who don’t see activity are encouraged to check back on a routine basis.

Halloween decorations may attract wildlife

PHOENIX — Halloween is on the horizon and soon those carefully carved pumpkins sitting outside may be attracting some unwanted trick-or-treaters: hungry wildlife looking for an easy meal.

As such, the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) reminds area residents to be aware that Halloween pumpkins and other fall decorations, such as gourds or squash, can attract wildlife when displayed outdoors.

AZGFD recommends that jack-o-lanterns, uncarved pumpkins and cornucopias be displayed indoors on window sills so they can be seen from outside if desired, and discarded securely to help prevent encounters with foraging wildlife.

“Pumpkins and other edible decorations are easy meals for wildlife and often attract javelina, coyotes, deer and even bears,” said Mike Demlong, AZGFD Wildlife Education program manager. “Habituating wildlife to human food sources can lead to conflicts, resulting in potentially serious injuries to people or pets and even property damage. That is why it is important to help keep wildlife wild.”

Additionally, unintentional or intentional feeding can cause problems for wildlife, such as obesity and malnutrition, and promote the spread of disease.

The public is reminded that it is illegal under state law (A.R.S. 13-2927) to feed wildlife in Pima, Maricopa and Pinal counties, with the exception of birds as well as tree squirrels, which are rare at lower elevations.

Other wildlife may eat bird seed, so birds are best fed only in an enclosed yard, preferably from a bird feeder. A tray can be attached beneath a feeder to catch spillover seed. Seed blocks should be placed in an enclosed area or on a secure raised platform.

For tips on minimizing conflicts with wildlife, see www.azgfd.gov/urbanwildlife.

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.