Desert bighorn sheep translocated to Goldfield Mountains

MESA — The next time you’re out hiking or just meandering in the Goldfield Mountains, take a good look around.

If you’re lucky, maybe way up high on the crags, you’ll see one or more of the area’s newest residents taking a good look at you.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department recently translocated 14 adult desert bighorn sheep – four rams and 10 ewes – from a healthy population of the animals near Saguaro Lake in Game Management Unit 24B to the Goldfield Mountains, also in Unit 24B.

All 14 of the animals were given an identification ear tag and complete health evaluation before being released. A few were fitted with a GPS tracking collar to better monitor their movements in their new locale.

“The main purpose of this project was to capture several desert bighorn sheep from within Unit 24B and establish a subpopulation within their native range,” said Dustin Darveau, terrestrial wildlife specialist. “This is important for several reasons, one of which is if there ever were to be a disease outbreak, it would not have a devastating effect on the entire population.

“We’re excited because these animals that were captured were placed in excellent habitat that also features a couple of redeveloped water catchments that will help them to easily establish a foothold in their native range.”

The translocation was no small operation. From helicopter pilots, net gunners and muggers – the ones who jump from the helicopter and safely secure the animals on the ground – to dozens of support staff and volunteers, it was a long, hard, but satisfying day in an effort to enhance and conserve Arizona’s wildlife.

The project was a cooperative effort between the department and its partners: Arizona Desert Bighorn Sheep Society, Mogollon Sporting Association, Tonto National Forest, and the Arizona State Land Department.

“We have heard so many comments about the professionalism and smooth implementation of this project,” Darveau said. “We can only take credit in the fact that everyone involved at every stage of this project made it so successful.”

Flotilla of kayakers, AZGFD biologists to float down Lower Salt River to battle invasive apple snail

MESA — Arizona Game and Fish Department biologists and the local kayaking community are joining forces to battle an invasive snail that, left unchallenged, could negatively impact native snail populations, vegetation and fishing along the Lower Salt River.

Last month a flotilla of more than 20 kayakers donned life jackets, grabbed their paddles and set off down the Lower Salt River northeast of Mesa looking for apple snail egg masses.

A group of citizen scientists from Sea Life Arizona Aquarium will again join AZGFD and Tonto National Forest biologists on Friday, Aug. 11 to help count, smash and drown the bright pink egg sacks into the depths of the Lower Salt River.

“Apple snails were originally introduced to Arizona through the pet trade,” said Jeff Sorensen, AZGFD Invertebrate Wildlife program manager, who is leading the project. “Unfortunately, when owners get tired of caring for them, some of these snails are released into our waterways, where they outcompete native species for food and territory. That has a ripple effect on aquatic species, vegetation and consequently our fish.”

Adult apple snails can grow as large as golf balls. Females produce large egg sacks, which resemble pink bubble gum stuck to cattail stalks lining waterways, such as the Lower Salt River.

Apple snails can lay a clutch of 25-500 eggs every 12 to 15 days.

“Just one female apple snail can produce up to 15,000 offspring per year. That is why it’s important for us to engage the public, and our local kayaking and tubing communities to help battle this invasive species,” Sorensen said.

Those wishing to join the battle against the invasive snail can simply smack the egg sacks into the water with a paddle or stick and the eggs will drown. However, use care when coming into contact with the snails as they are an intermediate host for the rat lungworm, which is a nematode that can cause meningitis in humans.​​​​​​​

Feeding wildlife a “selfish act” that can lead to bigger problems

MESA — A nuisance bear is being sought after repeatedly showing up at the Pioneer Pass campground in the Tonto National Forest. A sub-adult male bear was captured in Parks, Ariz. and had to be relocated. A mountain lion is suspected of killing a Mesa family pet. Javelinas attacked a Fountain Hills resident and her dogs. It’s the time of year when wildlife are on the move, and the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) cautions people to take steps to reduce wildlife interactions with humans.

“In spring, many wildlife species venture out of the hills looking for new home territories, water and food, and that often brings them into town. People who love wildlife should understand that feeding wild animals puts them in danger,” said Jay Cook, regional supervisor at the AZGFD Mesa office. “When wildlife learn to view humans as a food source, they lose their fear of people, and that can lead to attacks that end badly for both humans and wildlife.”

The problem of wandering wildlife is not confined to Arizona’s rural communities because even Arizona’s biggest cities are surrounded by deserts, forests and riparian areas. Smaller prey animals like ground squirrels, rabbits, mice and birds are also abundant in urban areas, and their presence will attract predators, too. While feeding birds and tree squirrels is legal, some counties have ordinances against feeding other wildlife because of the dangers it can pose to both people and wildlife.

Predators like mountain lions, coyotes and bears are common and abundant in Arizona, and though they are elusive and not always seen, they know that human habitation often signals available food. Arizona Game and Fish advises homeowners to discourage migrating wildlife from staying by eliminating temptations such as outdoor pet food and water dishes, over-full bird feeders that attract rodents, open trash containers and even small pets left outdoors.

It’s equally important to discourage or “haze” predators such as coyotes and mountain lions by making loud noises, waving your arms and throwing things to scare them away. Cook says anything that makes wild animals uncomfortable around humans will help teach them to stay clear.

“It’s a selfish act to put food out to attract wildlife into town for your viewing pleasure,” said Cook. “We want people to think twice before luring wildlife into trouble by feeding them.”

MESA: Proposed Arizona Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (AZPDES) Renewal Permit

Pursuant to the Clean Water Act and in accordance with Arizona Administrative Code (A.A.C.) R18-9-A907, the Director of the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) proposes to issue an Arizona Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (AZPDES) Permit to discharge pollutants to Waters of the United States to the following applicant, subject to certain effluent limitations and special conditions:

Public Notice No. 15-58                                                      Published on May 21, 2015
Published in East Valley Tribune

AZPDES Permit No. AZ0025241
City of Mesa Water Resources
Greenfield Water Reclamation Plant (GWRP)
P.O. Box 1466
Mesa, Arizona 85211-1466

The City of Mesa applied for a renewal AZPDES permit for the proposed discharge of up to 16 million gallons per day (mgd) of from the GWRP to the East Maricopa Floodway, tributary to the Gila River in the Middle Gila River Basin in Township 2 S, Range 6 E, Section 15, in Maricopa County, Arizona. The GWRP is a publicly owned treatment works that receives domestic wastewater from residential, commercial, and industrial sources in the City of Mesa and the Towns of Queen Creek and Gilbert. Sludge is treated on-site and then either hauled by a licensed contractor to the Apache Junction Landfill or land applied as Class B Biosolids, with the back-up capability to pump and discharge to the Baseline Interceptor and send to the City of Phoenix 91st Avenue WWTP for treatment.

The permit and fact sheet may be viewed online at http://www.azdeq.gov/cgi-bin/vertical.pl by typing the permit number in the box left of “Search Event”. The public notice and related documentation also are available for public review, Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., at the ADEQ Records Center, 1110 W. Washington St., Phoenix, Arizona, 85007. In Phoenix, please call (602) 771-4380 or e-mail recordscenter@azdeq.gov 24 hours in advance to schedule an appointment to review the file.

Persons may submit comments or request a public hearing on the proposed action in writing, to Jacqueline Maye, Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, Water Quality Division, 1110 W. Washington St., 5415B-3, Phoenix, Arizona 85007. All written comments received by ADEQ by the close of business on the date 30 days after publication of this notice will be considered in the final permit decision. A public hearing request must be in writing and must include the reasons for such request. If there is a significant degree of public interest, the Director will hold a hearing in accordance with A.A.C. R18-9-A908(B).

Public Notice: City of Mesa WRP permit

Pursuant to the Clean Water Act and in accordance with Arizona Administrative Code (A.A.C.) R18-9-A907, the Director of the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) proposes to issue an Arizona Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (AZPDES) Permit to discharge pollutants to Waters of the United States to the following applicant, subject to certain effluent limitations and special conditions:

Public Notice No. 15-29
Published on Thursday December 18, 2014
Published in the East Valley Tribune

AZPDES Permit No. AZ0025151
City of Mesa Water Resources
Southeast Water Reclamation Plant (SEWRP)
P.O. Box 1466
Mesa, AZ 85211-1466

The City of Mesa applied for a renewal AZPDES permit for the discharge of up to 8 million gallons per day (mgd) of treated process wastewater from the SEWRP to the East Maricopa Floodway, tributary to the Gila River in the Middle Gila River Basin in Township 1S, Range 6E, Section 12, in Maricopa County, Arizona. The SEWRP is a publicly owned treatment works that receives domestic wastewater from residential, commercial, and industrial sources in Mesa. Residual solids from the SEWRP are conveyed via pipeline to the Greenfield Water Reclamation Plant or the Sub Regional Operating Group’s 91st Avenue Waste Water Treatment Plant for disposal.

The permit and fact sheet may be viewed online at http://www.azdeq.gov/cgi-bin/vertical.pl by typing the permit number in the box left of “Search Event”. The public notice and related documentation also are available for public review, Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., at the ADEQ Records Center, 1110 W. Washington St., Phoenix, Arizona, 85007. In Phoenix, please call (602) 771-4380 or e-mail recordscenter@azdeq.gov 24 hours in advance to schedule an appointment to review the file.

Persons may submit comments or request a public hearing on the proposed action in writing, to Jacqueline Maye, Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, Water Quality Division, 1110 W. Washington St., 5415B-3, Phoenix, Arizona 85007. All written comments received by ADEQ by the close of business on the date 30 days after publication of this notice will be considered in the final permit decision. A public hearing request must be in writing and must include the reasons for such request. If there is a significant degree of public interest, the Director will hold a hearing in accordance with A.A.C. R18-9-908(B).

Kindergarten teacher accused of removing female student’s shirt

1-16-14-THOMAS-WALTER-WASHBURN-T045180_030000MESA, Ariz. — A Mesa kindergarten teacher was arrested Wednesday and booked for 25 counts of indecent exposure and one count of child abuse stemming from an incident in his classroom.

Thomas Washburn, 54, teaches kindergarten at Adams Elementary School in Mesa where the incident occurred on Wednesday.

The victim, a 6-year-old female, was in class with 24 classmates.

Washburn was reportedly upset and shouting in the class causing the victim to hide her face in the top of her shirt.

The victim’s mother described her daughter as “developmentally delayed” due to being born prematurely.

Read more and see video at AZFamily

Woman Dies in Supai Canyon After Being Struck by Falling Tree Branch

Supai, AZ—Coconino County Sheriff’s Detectives are investigating the death of twenty seven year-old Danielle Marie Harris of Mesa, Arizona who was struck by a falling tree branch in Supai Canyon.

On Saturday July 6, 2013 at about 4:15 pm the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office was contacted by Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) Officers who are assigned to law enforcement duties in Supai Canyon. According to the BIA investigator, Ms. Harris was staying at the designated camp ground in the canyon with nine other people in her group, all from the greater Phoenix area. The victim was seated at a picnic table positioned under a large cottonwood tree located in the campground. BIA investigators believe that as a result of high winds, a large branch that was approximately twelve inches in diameter broke off and struck the victim who sustained multiple injuries to include severe head trauma. A portion of the branch also struck a forty seven year-old male of Peoria, Arizona who was standing in close proximity to the picnic table.

Medical personnel employed by the Havasupai Nation responded and determined that Ms. Harris was deceased. The male who also was struck by the branch was treated for non-life-threatening injuries and flown to the Flagstaff Medical Center by an Arizona Department of Public Safety Air Rescue Helicopter. Coconino County Sheriff’s Detectives are continuing this investigation.