More than 4,000 permit-tags remain for 2018 spring javelina hunts

PHOENIX — Arizona hunters who were unsuccessful in the recent 2018 spring draw still have an opportunity to receive a hunt permit-tag for javelina.

As of Tuesday, 1,691 leftover hunt permit-tags were available for general hunts that begin Feb. 23. There also were 1,432 hunt permit-tags for archery-only hunts that begin Jan. 1; 1,239 hunt permit-tags for handgun, archery and muzzleloader (HAM) hunts that get underway Feb. 9; and 99 hunt permit-tags for youth-only hunts that start Jan. 26. Only 15 hunt permit-tags were left over for Challenged Hunter Access/Mobility Permit (CHAMP) hunts that begin Jan. 26.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department has posted a list of leftover hunt permit-tags on its website at www.azgfd.com/Hunting/Draw/. Hunters can apply on a first come, first served basis one of two ways: Fill out a paper application and bring it to any department office statewide, at which time a hunt permit-tag will be issued, or mail the completed application to: Arizona Game and Fish Department, Attn.: Draw/First Come, 5000 W. Carefree Highway, Phoenix, AZ 85086. Allow 10 to 15 business days to receive a hunt permit-tag by mail.

For more information, including license and hunt permit-tag requirements, legal methods of take, and bag limits, view the “2018 Spring Turkey, Javelina, Bison, Bear and Raptor Capture Hunt Draw Information” booklet online, or call (602) 942-3000.

Deadline to apply for shooting range development grants is January 15

PHOENIX — The Arizona Game and Fish Department is accepting applications for up to $100,000 in annual grant funding from nonprofit organizations and government agencies that are committed to the development and improvement of public shooting ranges.

Application packets can be downloaded at https://www.azgfd.com/Shooting/RangeGrants. All completed application packets must be received or postmarked by January 15, 2018. Grants will be awarded through a competitive application process.

The Arizona Game and Fish Commission created the Shooting Range Development Program in 1996 to foster the development and improvement of shooting ranges and to support their maintenance and operation. Through the program, the commission encourages hunters to become more proficient with firearms, promotes safe hunting and shooting practices, provides Arizona residents with safe recreational shooting (including archery) areas, and supports law enforcement training.

“This grant program is an investment in groups that are committed to carrying out the important mission of passing down our recreational shooting heritage to the next generation,” said Matthew Schwartzkopf, the department’s statewide shooting range administrator. “This is a great opportunity to make a difference.”

Grant funds are used to reimburse eligible project expenditures up to 50 percent of the total cost. Grants can be matched with cash, donated labor and materials, and other secured funding.

Projects for development, redevelopment, relocation, noise abatement, improvements and purchases of capital equipment must have an expected useful life of five years or more. The acceptance of a grant requires that the range be made available for the department’s Hunter Education Program activities, hunter recruitment efforts, and activities that support the Archery in the Schools Program and Scholastic Clay Target Program.

There is no cost to Arizona taxpayers for this grant program. Game and Fish does not receive any of the state’s general tax funds and operates under a user-pay, public-benefit model. The grant program is an investment in the continuance of wildlife conservation efforts and outdoors recreation participation in Arizona. To learn more about how hunters, anglers, shooters and boaters fund wildlife conservation, visit www.azgfd.gov/h_f/federal-aid-cycle.shtml.

For more information about the grant program, or application materials, contact Schwartzkopf at (623) 236-7395.

Game and Fish Commission opposes proposed initiative to ban hunting of wild cats

PHOENIX – At its regular December meeting, the Arizona Game and Fish Commission passed a motion in opposition to a proposed ballot initiative that would ban the hunting of mountain lions and bobcats and restrict management of the state’s wild cats by the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

The proposed initiative has not yet qualified for the ballot, but the Commission regularly takes positions on federal and state legislation with potential impact on the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) and the management of Arizona wildlife. The Commission voted 4-0 “in opposition to the initiative related to wild cats, and to affirm that the department has all the tools necessary to manage our state’s wildlife.”

“I like to describe it as ballot box wildlife management versus scientific management of wildlife,” said Commissioner Kurt Davis, of Phoenix. “This is very dangerous for the ability of our wildlife professionals, our scientists, to effectively manage all the forms of wildlife in the state. It removes management tools that are used by the department and I think that’s a very dangerous path to go down.”

The proposed measure, sponsored by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), also seeks to protect “lynx,” a species not found in Arizona, and two endangered species already under federal protection, jaguars and ocelots. None of these animals can be legally hunted in Arizona.

For more information on how the Arizona Game and Fish Department manages the state’s large cats, visit: https://www.azgfd.com/wildlife/mountainlionsinarizona/

Elk poaching near Flagstaff investigated

FLAGSTAFF – The Arizona Game and Fish Department is investigating the poaching of a bull elk, which occurred the evening of December 3. The bull was found north of Route 66 off Rain Valley Road on the east side of Flagstaff near Picture Canyon.

The elk was shot and left to waste in Game Management Unit 11M, where no elk season was going on at the time. Investigating officers believe the elk was shot from a vehicle on Rain Valley Road.

“We are hoping residents in the area remember seeing a vehicle or hearing a gunshot near sundown on December 3 and can provide vehicle or suspect descriptions,” said Game and Fish Wildlife Officer Colby Walton. “We believe someone knows about this poaching and we would like them to come forward with information.”

Anyone with information about the case can call the Department’s Operation Game Thief Hotline toll-free at (800) 352-0700 or use the online form at www.azgfd.gov/ogt. Callers should provide case number 17-004775 and may remain anonymous upon request, and all identities will be kept confidential.

A reward of up to $1,500 is being offered in this case for information leading to the arrest of the violator(s).

Young hunters wanted for Pintail Slough Junior Waterfowl Camp

KINGMAN — Young hunters who want to learn all about waterfowl hunting are invited to attend the annual Pintail Slough Junior Waterfowl Camp, sponsored by the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

The camp will take place January 6-7 (hunters check in January 5) at Havasu National Wildlife Refuge. The deadline to register is December 22. The event is limited to 18 hunters between ages 12 and 17 (each must be accompanied by an adult). No prior experience is necessary.

All young hunters will learn how to identify, hunt and clean waterfowl before putting those skills to use in the Pintail Slough duck blinds.

“If you aren’t getting out, you’re missing out,” said AJ Lander, wildlife manager. “This is just a great opportunity for parents to get outside with their kids and enjoy the outdoors.”

To request an application, contact Elise Theel at etheel@azgfd.gov, or call the department’s regional office in Kingman at (928) 692-7700. A refundable $40 registration fee is required. All participants will be chosen through a random draw and will be notified by e-mail or telephone.

Fatal OHV accidents are a tragic reminder of the importance of driving best practices

PHOENIX — Following recent fatal off-highway vehicle (OHV) accidents, the Arizona Game and Fish Department reminds everyone about the importance of following best practices when driving on the state’s trails and public land roads.

In late September, a 58-year-old woman died in Cave Creek after being pinned underneath her utility-task vehicle (UTV). A week earlier a Prescott man was found dead after his UTV flipped over and trapped him underneath it. In addition, two other fatalities were reported due to OHV accidents in September and another occurred in Bagdad on Nov. 2.

“These recent tragedies are a heartbreaking reminder that an accident can happen to anyone at any time,” said Josh Hurst, OHV law enforcement coordinator for the Arizona Game and Fish Department. “Having a great day out on your OHV means coming back home and being excited to plan your next trip.”

While safety equipment like helmets (which are required for riders and passengers under 18) and eye protection (required for everyone) are critically important in the event of an accident, they do not prevent accidents from occurring. With accident prevention the ultimate goal, it’s important to look at the riding behavior that can contribute to OHV accidents.

Riding Double — Each OHV was designed by the manufacturer to carry a maximum number of passengers, and operating the vehicle with more than the recommended number of passengers not only changes how the vehicle responds when being driven, but it also means there aren’t built-in safety components for everyone onboard, such as a seat, footrests or handrails for passengers. Many injuries caused by an OHV crash are due to passengers riding improperly.

Reckless Driving — OHVs can weigh upward of 1,800 pounds, so it’s important to remember that they require the same skills and thoughtful driving as a typical passenger vehicle. Stay on legal roads and trails, using caution and proper riding techniques like shifting your weight and position to maintain control of the vehicle. Maintaining a reasonable speed and taking tight turns and steep hills cautiously can go a long way toward having a successful outing. Adapt your speed and riding behavior to ever-changing road and weather conditions, particularly in unfamiliar riding areas.

Driving While Impaired — Driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs on an OHV is the same as a DUI in any other vehicle. The same laws apply while operating an OHV as do while operating a vehicle. If you are operating an OHV on public lands and are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you can be stopped by officers and arrested and face the same penalties as a DUI on the street. Driving under the influence is a major contributing factor to OHV accidents and injuries sustained as a result of OHV-related crashes. Drive smart, drive sober!

All of these actions can contribute to an accident or a rollover crash. Side-by-sides or UTVs often trap or pin the driver and any passengers when they roll over, and wearing seatbelts when available and window safety nets can be the difference between an accident and a tragedy.

“At the end of the day, what we want is for everyone to have an enjoyable time exploring Arizona on their OHVs,” Hurst said. “Contribute to our community of responsible and passionate OHV enthusiasts by doing your part to stay safe on the state’s roads and trails.”

Be a hero for wildlife – your donations will help the AZGFD Wildlife Center

PHOENIX — You can help sick or injured wildlife on Giving Tuesday.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Wildlife Center treats sick, injured or orphaned wildlife. Some can be released to the wild, but those that can’t require continued care, either as “wildlife ambassadors” for educational presentations at local schools and community events, or for placement in a zoo or wildlife sanctuary. The animals pictured above have all been rescued during the past year.

The department receives no Arizona tax dollars to operate, and the cost of feeding and caring for these animals often outweighs the available funding.

We’ve set a goal to raise $10,000, and there are two easy ways you can donate. Text CRITTER to 41444 or clicking on the image above will take you to the web site.

Your generous donation will help the Wildlife Center in accomplishing its mission of caring for these animals. Thank you for your consideration!

2017 wildlife photo contest winners announced

PHOENIX — Sometimes things happen when you least expect them. “I came upon this brave cactus wren taking on the cholla cactus,” said Pamela Parker of Mesa, explaining how she got the winning shot of this year’s wildlife photo contest. “I loved how the wren was framed by all the needles and had to take the photo.” She kept a watchful eye, taking several shots and capturing the bird surrounded by the cactus.

Parker used a handheld camera because she likes to be “on the same level as my subjects.” She caught the photography bug in 2014 after receiving a camera as a gift from her husband. After taking a photography class, she started visiting local parks to practice her new obsession. When Parker took her first photos, she “stood in amazement and awe. I will never forget that feeling.”

More than 250 photographers entered this year’s wildlife photo competition. Thirteen winning images are published in a full-size 2018 wildlife calendar in the November–December 2017 issue of Arizona Wildlife Views magazine, which will be on sale for $3 starting this week at all Arizona Game and Fish Department offices.

In addition to Parker, the other 12 winning photographers are:

  • Greg Collins, Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.: Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep
  • Timothy Cota, Mesa: brown vine snake
  • Joshua Esquivel, Sedona: rufous hummingbirds
  • Gary Michael Flanagan, Gilbert: great blue heron
  • Eric Heaton, Gilbert: bull elk and harem
  • Donal Hill, Flagstaff: Abert’s squirrel
  • Bryan Keil, Scottsdale: green heron
  • Peggy Kniffin, Chandler: burrowing owl
  • Bob Reisinger, Tempe: drake gadwall
  • Kathy Ritter, Happy Jack: white-tailed deer
  • Tam Ryan, Mesa: coyotes
  • Bruce D. Taubert, Glendale: American badger

Given the strength and diversity of this year’s 600-plus entries, the judges singled out 38 more images from 32 talented photographers for honorable mention. These photos also are featured in Arizona Wildlife Views magazine. The names of honorable mention photographers are posted on the photo contest’s Web page, www.azgfd.gov/photocontest.

Arizona Game and Fish welcomes new subscribers to Arizona’s award-winning magazine about wildlife and outdoor recreation. The regular price is $8.50 for six issues (one year), but through December 31, subscriptions are on sale for $7 for seven issues. They can be purchased online here.

Those who subscribe by December 31 will receive the calendar issue showing this year’s winners and honorable mentions.

Information sought in deer poaching case near Bagdad

KINGMAN – The Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) is seeking information about a recent poaching of a deer near Bagdad, Arizona.

The doe was shot in the neck on or about October 28 and left to waste near Hardy Schell, a stock tank northwest of Windy Ridge in Game Management Unit 18B. AZGFD is offering a reward of up to $1,000 for information leading to an arrest in this case.

“Evidence was collected at the scene, but help from the public will play a critical role in finding those responsible,” AZGFD Wildlife Manager AJ Lander said. “This is not the act of a hunter. Poaching is a crime. It is stealing wildlife from the citizens of Arizona. It is important for anyone with information to come forward and help Game and Fish bring those responsible to justice.”

An investigation is ongoing, and wildlife officers are seeking information about a 1980’s model two-tone blue and grey Ford Bronco. Two male individuals are believed to be involved.

One man was described as being in his 60s, with black curly hair and an overweight build. This individual was seen wearing black coveralls, similar to what a mechanic would wear, and is believed to be the driver of the Bronco. The other subject was also described as being in his 60s, with a slimmer build and was seen wearing blue jeans and an orange hunter hat.

Officers are asking anyone with information about the person or persons responsible for this crime to come forward.

Anyone with information about the case can call the department’s Operation Game Thief hotline toll-free at (800) 352-0700 and provide case number 17-004326 or use the online form at www.azgfd.gov/ogt. Callers’ identities will be kept confidential, and people can report anonymously if needed.

To learn more about Operation Game Thief, visit www.azgfd.gov/ogt.

Game and Fish Commission to meet December 1-2 in Phoenix

PHOENIX – The next meeting of the Arizona Game and Fish Commission will be December 1-2, 2017, at the AZGFD headquarters at 5000 W. Carefree Highway in Phoenix. The public can attend in person, view the meeting on a webcast at https://livestream.com/azgameandfish, or (Friday only) watch the meeting on streaming video from any regional office statewide.

Those who wish to speak to the commission may submit “speaker cards” (blue cards) in person at the meeting or from any Game and Fish office (Friday only). The ability to speak to the commission is not available for those viewing the webcast.

The Friday, Deccember 1 portion of the meeting begins at 8 a.m. Among the items on Friday’s agenda are:

  • Consideration of a hunting and fishing license reciprocity memorandum of understanding with Nevada.
  • An update on state and federal legislation.
  • Consideration of a Notice of Final Expedited Rulemaking amending rules within Article 11 addressing aquatic invasive species.
  • Consideration of rulemaking recommendations for Article 3 regarding the taking and handling of wildlife.
  • Hearings on license revocations for violations of Game and Fish codes, and civil assessments for the illegal taking and/or possession of wildlife (time certain at 10 a.m.).
  • A briefing on recent bald eagle telemetry efforts to improve data gathering for management recommendations.
  • An update on department activities and involvement with resource management planning and other major actions on federal lands in Arizona.
  • Consideration of a new commercial public records request policy concerning the release of personal identifying information.
  • Request for acceptance of a perpetual access easement dedicated by the South Eastern Arizona Sportsmen Club to the department.

On Saturday, December 2, beginning at 8 a.m., the agenda includes:

  • Consideration of proposed Commission Orders 3 (pronghorn), 4 (elk) and 26 (population management) establishing seasons and season dates, bag and possession limits, permit numbers or authorized limits, and open areas for the 2018 and 2019 fall hunting seasons.
  • Consideration of the proposed hunt-permit tag application schedule for the antelope and elk 2018 hunts.

To view a copy of the full meeting agenda, visit www.azgfd.gov/commission and click on the “commission agenda” link.

The Arizona Game and Fish Commission is a five-member, policy-setting board that oversees the Arizona Game and Fish Department.