Wildlife News – December 3, 2010

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December 13th, 2010

* Leftover javelina, turkey, bear hunting permits available
* Give fishing memories this holiday season
* Outdoor recreationists asked to help bald eagles during breeding season
* 2010 survey results released for desert bighorn sheep on the Kofa NWR
* Get a special deal on Arizona Wildlife Views magazine and calendar
* Wildlife-themed gift ideas the whole family can enjoy
* Plan to attend the Commission Awards banquet in January
* Public meetings scheduled on aquatic invasive species regulations and management plan
* Volunteers sought for annual Christmas bird counts

Leftover javelina, turkey, bear hunting permits available

Everybody loves leftovers, and hunters interested in pursuing a springtime harvest can now apply for one of the remaining javelina, Merriam’s turkey and bear permits.

There are plenty of great spring hunts to choose from, and the Arizona Game and Fish Department will be issuing the limited permits to applicants on a first-come, first-served basis.

Even though there are thousands of tags left over from the spring draw, the popular hunts that are conveniently located to metro areas or best known for their hunt success will go quickly.

For those interested in hunting javelina, there are permits remaining for every hunt type including:

* Archery-only javelina, Jan. 1-20, 2011
* Juniors-only javelina, Jan. 21-30, 2011
* H.A.M. (handgun, archery and muzzleloader) javelina, Feb. 4-13, 2011
* General (rifle) javelina, Feb. 18-24, 2011

Spring turkey gobbler permits remaining will put hunters in excellent turkey country when these gregarious birds are displaying their courting rituals of strutting and gobbling, including:

* Juniors-only spring turkey (limited weapon shotgun shooting shot), Apr. 15-21 and May 6-19, 2011
* General spring turkey (limited weapon shotgun shooting shot), seasons vary starting April 22 and closing May 19, 2011

For those adventurous archery hunters, test your skills hunting spring bear in a handful of popular units during the following season:

* Archery-only spring bear, April 29 – July 31, 2011

Leftover hunt permit-tags can be obtained two ways:

* Mailed application: Beginning Monday, Nov. 29 at 8 a.m. (MST) Game and Fish will accept applications by mail only in the same way as the regular drawing process. Completed applications must be sent by U.S. mail to: Arizona Game and Fish Department, Attn: Drawing Section, PO Box 74020, Phoenix, AZ 85087-1052.
* Walk in: After 8 a.m. (MST) on Monday, Dec. 6, leftover tags are also available for purchase in person from any of the seven Arizona Game and Fish Department offices. There are offices in Phoenix, Pinetop, Flagstaff, Kingman, Yuma, Tucson and Mesa. For addresses and a map of Game and Fish offices, visit www.azgfd.gov/offices.

To apply, hunters will need to get the four-digit hunt number from the listing of leftover tags, the 2011 Spring Turkey, Javelina, Buffalo and Bear Hunt Draw Information booklet (regulations), and the Hunt Permit/Tag Application form which are all available at www.azgfd.gov/draw. The spring hunt regulations and application forms can be obtained from any license dealer.

For those who qualify, there are military hunts available at Camp Navajo; for information, call (928) 773-3274.

Hunters are reminded they will need a 2011 hunting license to apply. Licenses can be purchased through the application process, at Game and Fish offices and website, or at more than 300 license dealers statewide.

Give fishing memories this holiday season

If you want a special gift for your family and friends, take them fishing this holiday season.

“Take time during the hectic holidays to reconnect with your family, friends and nature,” recommends Rory Aikens, the fishing report editor for the Arizona Game and Fish Department. “The memories might last a lot longer than most toys or other gifts.”

You can reel in some superb trout fishing opportunities in town, close to town and not far out of town.

The Urban Program lakes are routinely stocked with trout. By the way, almost next door to the Pagago Ponds (a blue ribbon urban bass fishery), you can go see the Las Noches de Las Luminarias at the Desert Botanical Gardens or go visit the Zoo Lights.

Tempe Town Lake is also a good holiday catch. The Game and Fish Department is doing an extra stocking of rainbows just before the winter school break. Hey, and don’t miss the Tempe Lights Boat Parade on Dec. 11. Word has it that a jolly old elf will appear.

Both Canyon and Saguaro lakes are also stocked with trout during winter and you might also catch some pretty nice bass or take a scenic ride on an old paddle wheeler. The desert bighorn sheep are making a comeback in the area and you might just see them.

Game and Fish also stocks trout in the lakes around Prescott, which is a great community to catch plenty of Yuletide spirit around the Courthouse Square. The courthouse lighting is Dec. 4.

The Verde River from Cottonwood to Camp Verde is also stocked with rainbows, as is Dead Horse Ranch State Park near Cottonwood.

“This is also a wonderful time of year to explore nearby ancient Indian ruins at Tuzigoot and Montezuma’s Castle once you’ve filled your creel full of fishing memories,” Aikens advised.

Oak Creek provides plenty of scenic fishing opportunities for both novice and veteran anglers. You can also experience lingering autumn colors along with Sedona’s Red Rock Fantasy Lights.

Trout are stocked along Casino Row below Davis Dam and some lucky anglers are even reeling in some 20- to 22-inch monsters amidst a winter wonderland of neon lights.

A holiday trek to Lake Havasu might net you some ferocious smallmouth or striped bass and also gaze at a million or so colorful lights around London Bridge. The Annual Boat Parade of Lights is Dec. 4.

Willow Beach below Hoover Dam is also stocked with rainbows. There is a new fishing pier that provides anglers with very good opportunities to catch trout, and maybe even a huge striped bass or two. You might even find a holiday float trip through Black Canyon to be a special holiday experience.

Your favorite trout angler might also treasure another gift – a guided fishing trip to Arizona’s most famous trout fishery, Lee’s Ferry. The rainbow trout are beginning to don their crimson-sided spawning colors. Experiencing a wild trout dancing on the end of the line in the spectacular Marble Canyon Gorge is the memory of a lifetime.

“Fill your stockings with outdoor memories this holiday season. You might also discover it is the best ho ho ho for the buck. Or is that reindeer?” Aikens pondered.

Outdoor recreationists asked to help bald eagles during breeding season

Each year as part of its highly successful program to manage and conserve bald eagles in the state, the Arizona Game and Fish Department asks outdoor recreationists to help protect important eagle breeding areas by honoring the closure of 21 areas across the state. Various land and wildlife management agencies close the breeding areas for part of the year, beginning in December, to protect the state’s 52 breeding pairs of bald eagles. Some of the closure areas are located near popular recreation sites.

“Bald eagles are continuing to do well in Arizona, but they are sensitive to human activity during the breeding season and it can take as little as 30 minutes of leaving the eggs uncovered for a breeding attempt to fail,” says Kenneth Jacobson, head of the Arizona Game and Fish Department Bald Eagle Management Program. “Cooperation from outdoor recreationists during the breeding season has helped the population continue to grow.”

The bald eagle was federally listed as an endangered species in 1978. Nationally, the birds recovered enough to be removed from the list in 2007.

In December, Arizona bald eagles begin rebuilding nests in preparation for laying eggs. During this time, land and wildlife management agencies enact the seasonal breeding area closures. Bald eagles nest, forage and roost at the rivers and lakes that have become some of Arizona’s most popular recreation spots, and this time of year can be challenging for the birds.

Game and Fish’s bald eagle management efforts are supported by the Heritage Fund, an initiative passed 20 years ago to provide for wildlife education and conservation through Arizona lottery ticket sales.

AIRSPACE ADVISORY

Statewide

* Statewide – The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has established a 2000-foot above ground level (AGL) advisory along the Salt and Verde River drainages. When traveling in these drainages or near riparian habitat statewide, aircraft should maintain a minimum of 2000-foot AGL to ensure compliance with state and federal law.

SEASONAL CLOSURES

Alamo Lake

* Alamo Lake – A portion of upper Alamo Lake may be closed to boats from Jan. 1 to June 30. Contact the Arizona Game and Fish Department, Region IV, Yuma, (928) 342-0091.

Lake Pleasant

* No vehicle, watercraft, or foot entry is allowed into the Lower Agua Fria Arm from Dec. 15 to June 15. Contact Maricopa County Parks and Recreation, (928) 501-1710.

Verde River

* Verde River below Sycamore Canyon Wilderness is closed to foot and vehicle entry from Dec. 1 to June 15. Floating through is allowed. Contact Coconino National Forest, Sedona Ranger District, (928) 282-4119.
* Verde River near Chasm Creek is closed to foot and vehicle entry from Dec. 1 to June 15. Floating through is allowed. Contact Prescott National Forest, Verde Ranger District, (928) 567-4121.
* Verde River upstream of the East Verde confluence is closed to vehicle and foot entry from Dec. 1 to June 30. Floating through is allowed, but no stopping in the river or landing is permitted. Contact Tonto National Forest, Cave Creek Ranger District, (480) 595-3300.
* Verde River near Mule Shoe Bend, allows watercraft to float through but no stopping in the river or landing is allowed from Dec. 1 to June 30. Contact Tonto National Forest, Cave Creek Ranger District, (480) 595-3300.
* Verde River below Horseshoe Dam may be closed to vehicle or foot entry on the southwest side of the river from Dec. 1 to June 30. Floating through is allowed, but no stopping in the river or landing on the southwest side of the river is allowed. Contact Tonto National Forest, Cave Creek Ranger District, (480) 595-3300.
* Verde River below Bartlett Dam is closed to foot or vehicle entry from Dec. 1 to June 30. Floating through is allowed. Contact Tonto National Forest, Cave Creek Ranger District, (480)595-3300.
* Verde River at the Needle Rock Recreation area is closed to foot and vehicle entry on the east side of the river from Dec. 1 to June 30. Floating through is allowed, but no stopping in the river or landing on the east side of the river is allowed. Contact Tonto National Forest, Cave Creek Ranger District, (480) 595-3300.

Tonto Creek

* Tonto Creek from Gisela to 76 Ranch is closed to vehicle, foot entry, and floating through from Dec. 1 to June 30. Contact Tonto National Forest, Tonto Basin Ranger District (928) 467-3200.
* Tonto Creek inlet to Roosevelt Lake is closed to vehicle and foot entry within 1000 feet of the nest on land, and to watercraft within 300 feet on water from Dec. 1 to June 30. Contact Tonto National Forest, Tonto Basin Ranger District (928) 467-3200.

Salt River

* Salt River from Horseshoe Bend to Redmond Flat allows watercraft to float through, but no stopping in the river or landing is allowed from Dec. 1 to June 30. Contact Tonto National Forest, Globe Ranger District, (928) 402-6200.
* Salt River near Meddler Point is closed to vehicle and foot entry within 1000 feet of the nest on land, and to watercraft within 300 feet on water from Dec. 1 to June 30. Contact Tonto National Forest, Tonto Basin Ranger District (928) 467-3200.
* Salt River below Stewart Mountain Dam is closed to vehicle or foot entry on the south side of the river from Dec. 1 to June 30. Floating through is allowed. Contact the Tonto National Forest, Mesa Ranger District, (480) 610-3300.

Becker Lake

* A portion of the lake may be closed to watercraft and a portion of the shoreline may be closed to foot entry from Feb. 1 through June 30. Contact the Arizona Game and Fish Department, Region I, Pinetop, (928) 367-4281.

Crescent Lake

* A portion of the entrance road may be restricted to a “no stopping zone” and a portion of land near the parking area may be closed to foot entry from April 1 through July 30. Contact the Apache Sitgreaves National Forest, Springerville Ranger District, (928) 333-4372.

Luna Lake

* Luna Lake is closed to vehicle and foot traffic on the north side from Jan. 1 to June 30. Contact Apache National Forest, Alpine Ranger District, (928) 339-4384.

Lynx Lake

* There is no vehicle or foot traffic allowed on the east side of the lake and a portion of the shoreline is closed to watercraft from Dec. 1 to June 30. Contact the Prescott National Forest, Bradshaw Ranger District, (928) 443-8000.

Lower Lake Mary

* There is no vehicle or foot traffic allowed on a portion of the north side of the lake from Jan. 1 to Aug. 30. Contact the Coconino National Forest, Mormon Lake Ranger District, (928) 774-1147.

Greer Lakes

* A portion of the lake may be closed to watercraft and a portion of the shoreline may be closed to foot entry from March 1 through July 31. Contact the Apache Sitgreaves National Forest, Springerville Ranger District, (928) 333-4372.

Woods Canyon Lake

* A portion of the lake may be closed to watercraft and a portion of the shoreline may be closed to foot entry from April 1 through Aug. 31. Contact the Apache Sitgreaves National Forest, Black Mesa Ranger District, (928) 535-7300.

TIPS FOR VISITING EAGLE AREAS

If you are visiting bald eagle country, an advance call to the local land management agency (USDA Forest Service district, etc.) or the Arizona Game and Fish Department may help you plan your trip to avoid disturbing bald eagles. By following these simple guidelines, we can all help ensure that our living wildlife legacy will last for generations to come:

* Enjoy bald eagles from outside the closures, especially during critical nesting times (December to June). These areas are posted with signs and/or buoys, and most have daily nestwatch monitors. Anyone approached by a nestwatcher and asked to cease an activity or leave a closed area should comply. A few good places to see bald eagles without disturbing them (during December and January) are at Lake Mary and Mormon Lake near Flagstaff or on the Verde River Canyon Train in Clarkdale.
* Bald eagles protecting an active nest will let you know if you are too close. If a bald eagle is vocalizing and circling the area frantically, you are too close and need to leave the area quickly. Bald eagles incubating eggs or brooding small young should never be off the nest for more than 15 minutes.
* Pilots should maintain the FAA-recommended 2,000-foot AGL advisory when flying over bald eagle habitat along the Salt and Verde Rivers, Lake Pleasant and Alamo Lake. These areas are designated on the Phoenix Sectional Aeronautical Map. Special brochures for pilots regarding this advisory can be obtained by calling the Arizona Department of Transportation or the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s nongame branch, (623) 236-7506.
* Help from anglers is especially needed. Monofilament and tackle has killed two nestlings and has been found in two-thirds of all bald eagle nests in the state. Every year we remove this potentially lethal material from nests and/or entangled nestlings. Ospreys, shorebirds, waterfowl and songbirds also succumb to this litter. Do not discard any type of monofilament along rivers and lakes, but recycle it at fishing stores. Keep your monofilament fresh; do not use old brittle line. Make sure to use the correct test line for the fish you are trying to catch. Also, do not cut the line when an undesirable fish is caught and return it to the water with the hook and line attached.

You can help bald eagle research and recovery efforts by reporting any harassment or shooting of bald eagles. Call the Arizona Game and Fish Operation Game Thief Hotline at 1-800-352-0700 or U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Law Enforcement at (480) 967-7900.

2010 survey results released for desert bighorn sheep on the Kofa NWR
Populations remain low; management agencies’ concern is still high

The recently completed survey of the desert bighorn sheep population on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Kofa National Wildlife Refuge in southwestern Arizona resulted in a population estimate of 402 sheep.

The survey estimate is down from the 2009 survey estimate of 410 sheep, but it is still slightly above the lowest recorded estimated level of the 2006 survey of 390.

Due to standardized survey methodology and scientific margin of accuracy, biologists’ analysis of the past five surveys indicates no significant decline or improvement to the herd’s population.

Wildlife management agencies remain concerned about the low population levels on the refuge compared to the estimated 812 animals of the 2000 survey.

Once a very robust population, the size of the herd on the refuge has dropped significantly since 2000. Wildlife experts attribute the decline to a variety of potential factors including drought, predation, water availability, disease and human disturbance. Due to the significance of this sheep population, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and Arizona Game and Fish Department (AGFD) are conducting an ongoing, joint study to collect data on these and other suspected causes of the population’s decline.

Seasonal rains in 2010 were good; consequently habitat conditions are also favorable throughout the refuge. All of the sheep appeared healthy during the aerial surveys. Biologists observed lamb-to-ewe ratios of 24 lambs per 100 ewes, which is above the long-term average of approximately 20 lambs per 100 ewes for the refuge. However, a slightly higher lamb-to-ewe ratio has not yet translated into an increase in the population – it has only stabilized it.

The New Mexico State University Cooperative Studies Unit is studying the relative health of bighorn sheep on the refuge. In November 2007, 30 ewes were fitted with tracking devices to monitor nutrition, movements, and mortality to assist in making active management decisions to assist in restoring the herd’s population. The project study is scheduled to run through the fall of 2010. The ewes were evaluated in November 2010 using ultrasound technology. Body fat composition indicated good nutrition and nearly all of the ewes were pregnant. Other biological samples were collected for disease analysis and have been sent to various laboratories.

AGFD and USFWS biologists captured a male mountain lion in November 2010 on Kofa NWR. A satellite GPS collar was fitted on the lion pursuant to the ongoing effort to monitor mountain lions and remove lions that regularly prey on desert bighorn sheep as described in the final environmental assessment “Limiting Mountain Lion Predation on Desert Bighorn Sheep on the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge” and the AGFD Kofa Mountains Complex Adaptive Predation Management Plan.

To view the management documents and learn more about the restoration efforts of the Kofa desert bighorn sheep herd, visit the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s website at www.azgfd.gov/kofa. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Kofa National Wildlife Refuge website is at www.fws.gov/southwest/refuges/arizona/kofa/index.html.

Get a special deal on Arizona Wildlife Views magazine and calendar

Looking for a special holiday gift for family and friends?

Order a subscription to Arizona Wildlife Views magazine now and you’ll receive seven issues of Arizona’s award-winning wildlife magazine (including the current issue containing the 2011 wildlife calendar) over the coming year for only $7!

The beautiful wall calendar includes the best wildlife photos from this year’s contest entries, as well as bonus materials to help you and your family plan an exciting year in the great outdoors. Plus, you’ll get six more issues of the bimonthly magazine, including next year’s calendar issue.

The calendar issue is a great way to introduce friends and family to all that Arizona’s wildlife and wild lands have to offer. If you know someone who enjoys the outdoors, consider giving Views as a gift, for the same low price!

To order Arizona Wildlife Views at this special price, call (800) 777-0015 or visit www.azgfd.gov/magazine (or go directly to the order form at https://w1.buysub.com/servlet/ConvertibleGateway?cds_mag_code=AZW). Quantities of this year’s calendar issue are limited, so please act soon!

Wildlife-themed gift ideas the whole family can enjoy

The Arizona Game and Fish Department has a variety of holiday gift ideas that are affordable, unique, and definitely more enticing to your outdoor enthusiast family members and friends than the traditional fruit cake or tie.

For starters, how about giving a subscription to Arizona Wildlife Views magazine, now available at a special low price? (See article above). Other great gift ideas include:

* “Arizona Wildlife Viewing Guide” – Arizona provides some of the best wildlife viewing opportunities in the nation. More than 900 animal species and 50 million public acres of natural land are open to explore. In this guide you’ll be treated to beautiful photographs of wildlife viewing sites and the magnificent animals that you can see at some 128 unique places across the state. Readers always enjoy tips for wildlife watching, the rating system that highlights “can’t miss” locations, site descriptions and driving directions. The book can be purchased for $14.95 at the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s seven statewide offices and online at the department’s website www.azgfd.gov/publications.
* Arizona Lifetime Fishing and Hunting Licenses – As a lifetime license holder, you are entitled to fish and hunt in Arizona for your lifetime, even if you move out of Arizona. No more worrying about last-minute license purchases, expiration deadlines, license fee increases or residency requirements. Privileges are retained for life. License holders are still responsible for purchasing either resident or nonresident big game tags, permits or stamps as required by law. For more information, visit www.azgfd.gov/eservices/licenses.shtml and click on the lifetime license link. License fees may vary.
* Sponsor-a-Turtle Program – Support Arizona’s turtle conservation by sponsoring a turtle in the name of a friend or loved one. There are several suggested contribution levels that provide support for varying types of research. All sponsors will receive a Turtles Project sponsor kit, which includes a personalized sponsorship certificate and a photo of a turtle in the chosen sponsorship level. Visit www.azgfd.gov/turtles for more information.
* Donations to the Adobe Mountain Wildlife Center – The Arizona Game and Fish Department’s rehabilitation center treats more than 1,000 sick and injured animals annually and provides wildlife education to local schools. For more information on making tax-deductible donations to support wildlife rehabilitation, visit www.azwildlifecenter.net or call (623) 582-9806.
* Super Conservation Licenses for 2011 – These super package deals combine multiple licenses, stamps and tags to create outstanding values for avid anglers and hunters. For example, the Super Conservation Combination Hunt and Fish license includes a General Fish license, Urban Fish license, trout stamp, General Hunt license, Unit 12A (North Kaibab) Habitat stamp, state waterfowl stamp, state migratory bird stamp, nonpermit-tags for archery deer, archery turkey, bear and mountain lion. The Super Conservation Combination Hunt and Fish license is available to residents only, and may be purchased at any department office. For more information about licenses, visit www.azgfd.gov/eservices/licenses.shtml.

This holiday season give a gift that your loved ones are sure to remember. For more information visit the department’s website at www.azgfd.gov.

Plan to attend the Commission Awards banquet in January

Mark your calendar to attend the annual Arizona Game and Fish Commission Awards Banquet on Saturday, Jan. 15, 2011, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel at 2532 W. Peoria Ave. in Phoenix.

The social hour begins at 5:30 p.m., followed by dinner and the awards ceremony.
The cost is $55 for an individual, or $500 for a table of 10 (a $50 savings over the cost of the seats if purchased individually). To download a reservation form, visit www.azgfd.gov/inside_azgfd/documents/CommissionAwardsbanquetreservationform2011.pdf.

Award Table Sponsorships for organizations are available for $550 and include a table in the organization’s name, logo advertisement in the event program, recognition in the introductory PowerPoint presentation and event press release, and five banquet tickets for the organization. Other sponsorship opportunities are also available; contact Marty Fabritz at (623) 236-7281 or mfabritz@azgfd.gov, or download a sponsorship form at www.azgfd.gov/inside_azgfd/documents/CommissionAwardssponsorshipform2011.pdf.

The Commission Awards are given annually to recognize Arizonans that have contributed to the welfare of Arizona’s wildlife, its outdoor heritage, and the mission of the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

This year’s award winners, who will be formally recognized at the banquet, are:

* Award of Excellence – Wink Crigler
* Youth Environmentalist of the Year – Brad Garr
* Outdoor Writer of the Year – Jean Wilson
* Media of the Year – Steve Bodinet
* Conservation Organization of the Year – Department of Defense
* Conservationist of the Year – Brian Dolan
* Natural Resource Professional of the Year – Melanie Culver
* Volunteer of the Year – Mark Adkins
* Mentor of the Year – Eddie Corona
* Advocate of the Year – George Reiners
* Habitat Stewardship Award – Duane Coleman

For more information about the banquet, visit www.azgfd.gov/inside_azgfd/commission_awards.shtml.

Public meetings scheduled on aquatic invasive species regulations and management plan
Written comment can be submitted through Jan. 10, 2011

The Arizona Game and Fish Department will host a series of public meetings and a webcast to discuss draft updated regulations and a draft management plan to fight the spread of aquatic invasive species in Arizona waters.

The draft regulations, or “Director’s Orders,” will update the list of species considered aquatic invasives, update the list of the waters that contain them, and revise the mandatory conditions for moving boats from those waters.

“It is critical for anyone who owns or uses watercraft, or has a business reliant on watercraft, to understand the essential nature of this aquatic invasive species containment effort,” said Tom McMahon, invasive species program coordinator with Game and Fish. “The spread of aquatic invasive species, such as quagga mussels and crayfish, have far-reaching impacts, both financial and ecological, that can touch virtually every resident of the state.”

The public meetings will be held on the following dates:

* Tuesday, Dec. 14, 6 p.m., Phoenix, Arizona Game and Fish Department Headquarters, Quail Room, 5000 W. Carefree Highway (This meeting will also be webcast over the Internet at www.azgfd.gov/webcast).
* Wednesday, Dec. 15, 3 p.m., Page, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Headquarters Building, 691 Scenic Road.
* Thursday, Dec. 16, 6 p.m., Kingman, Arizona Game and Fish Department Kingman Regional Office, 5325 N. Stockton Hill Road.

One meeting was already held in Lake Havasu City on Nov. 30.

In particular, the meetings will discuss:

* The addition of several species (rusty crayfish, red claw crayfish, New Zealand mudsnail, giant salvinia, and didymo (rock snot) to Director’s Order #1, which currently includes quagga and zebra mussels.
* Updates to Director’s Order #2 (list of contaminated waters) and Director’s Order #3 (decontamination protocols).
* The draft 2011 Arizona Aquatic Invasive Species Management Plan.

The draft Director’s Orders and Arizona Aquatic Invasive Species Management Plan are available for viewing at www.azgfd.gov/mussels.

Written comment can be submitted at the public meetings or by e-mail to AIScomments@azgfd.gov. The deadline to submit comment is Jan. 10, 2011.

“Anyone using Arizona waters should understand that they can do their part to avoid transporting undesirable plant and animal life to other bodies of water by taking the simple steps of cleaning, draining, and drying your boat after each outing,” said McMahon. “Remember, now it’s the law.”

For more information, visit www.azgfd.gov/mussels. For questions, contact Tom McMahon at tmcmahon@azgfd.gov or (623) 236-7271.

Volunteers sought for annual Christmas bird counts

You can help wildlife conservation and enjoy a wildlife-viewing experience by participating in one or more annual Arizona Christmas Bird Counts in December and early January.

The count program is a bird population survey that has been coordinated annually by the National Audubon Society since 1900. For each count, volunteers (including those from the Arizona Game and Fish Department) will take to the field for one calendar day between Dec. 14, 2010 and Jan. 5, 2011, to record every bird species and every individual bird sighted within a designated 15-mile diameter area. There are more than 30 counting events scheduled in different parts of the state during that time period.

The data collected will be added to an extensive database that enables monitoring of winter bird populations across North America and helps in assessing the overall health of the environment.

Participants are typically assigned to teams based on their bird identification skill level and endurance. Many counts hold a compilation dinner at the end of the day where results are tabulated and stories shared. A $5 participation fee defrays a portion of the cost of tabulating and publishing the overall count results.

Volunteer help is needed on most of these counts. To find a list of counts and areas, visit www.azgfd.gov/w_c/documents/ChristmasBirdCountSchedule_2010.pdf or www.azfo.org/CBC/cbc2010_2011.html. For more information, contact the coordinator listed for the date or location.

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