World Migratory Bird Day is Saturday, May 8 

AZGFD encourages Arizonans to protect bird species


PHOENIX — World Migratory Bird Day, a biannual global awareness-raising campaign that highlights the need for the conservation of migratory birds and their habitats, is Saturday, May 8.

This year, Arizonans can do their part to help the state’s bird species while having fun.

Arizona is home to approximately 550 bird species; about 230 are migratory birds that spend part of their life cycle (breeding, migrating or wintering) in the state. However, recent studies indicate declines in most bird populations, leading to concerns about their future. 

For more than 30 years, the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) has been working with national and international partners to conserve, monitor, and enhance bird populations, such as the Bendire’s thrasher and the thick-billed parrot. 

The Bendire’s thrasher is one of five thrashers that breed in Arizona. State agencies within the bird’s range in the Southwest, including Arizona, consider this bird a species of concern. 

“We are working with partners from across this bird’s range in the U.S. and Mexico to learn more about their population numbers, and we are actively investigating their migratory and winter movements as these results will help us develop informed conservation actions to benefit this unique desert bird,” said Chrissy Kondrat, AZGFD biologist

The thick-billed parrot is the only surviving parrot species native to North America, and it is listed as “endangered” by the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The colorful birds were last seen in southern Arizona in the 1930s; however, small populations can be found in Mexico. AZGFD collaborates with its Mexican partners to ensure that approximately 3,000 birds continue to thrive in the wild. 

Here are some fun ideas to celebrate WMBD: 

  • Make a bird-friendly backyard.
  • Go birdwatching. This is a fun and inexpensive activity for the entire family.
  • Participate in one of the world’s largest, biodiversity-related science projects May 8 by signing up for eBird, a free app and online database that provides real-time data about bird distributions and abundance.
  • Get involved with a local Audubon chapter to learn more about fun, bird-related activities.

PHOENIX — The Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) reminds the public to leave baby wildlife alone. As temperatures rise and days grow longer, the newborns of many wildlife species are beginning to explore the world around them. 

AZGFD encourages people to resist the urge to help seemingly abandoned animals, including baby birds and young rabbits, as a parent is likely nearby and will return once humans have left the area.

“Picking up or ‘rescuing’ baby wildlife is often unnecessary and can have negative consequences,” said Stacey Sekscienski, wildlife education program manager. “While the intention is well-meaning, the ‘rescue’ often results in a newborn or juvenile animal being taken from its parents, which are likely just out foraging for food and water.

“This can often leave a parent searching for its young, and wildlife raised by humans is less likely to survive if released back into the wild.” 

Once they’ve been removed from the wild, some species of baby animals, such as elk calves or deer fawns, may even have to be euthanized because they cannot be released due to disease concerns. In addition, zoos and other wildlife sanctuaries have limited space to hold them. 

Wildlife centers around the state are inundated each year with baby birds, rabbits and other wildlife that were unnecessarily taken from the wild. 

The public should contact a licensed wildlife rehabilitator if they encounter an animal that is clearly sick or injured with wounds or broken bones; is unresponsive or lethargic; has been attacked by a cat or dog; or there is strong evidence that the mother is dead. 

Young wildlife found in a yard or in the field is rarely abandoned. Typically, once the perceived predator (perhaps a dog, cat or person) leaves the area, one or both parents will return and continue to care for the young.

Baby birds are the most common wildlife species encountered by the public and removed from the wild. Additionally, eggs of ground-nesting birds like quail should be left in place when discovered.

“It’s reassuring to know our Arizona community is passionate about caring for wild animals, but most often, the best thing anyone can do is just to leave baby wildlife alone,” Sekscienski said.

For more information on what to do if abandoned or injured wildlife is encountered, visit:


Arizona’s deer and elk populations remain free of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) due to diligent surveillance efforts.


No cases found in nearly 1,600 samples tested from latest hunting seasons 


PHOENIX — The Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) has announced that Arizona continues to be clear of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), a fatal wildlife disease that affects the nervous system of deer and elk. 

Department officials did not find any cases of CWD in the 1,589 deer (mule and white-tailed) and elk that were sampled in 2020 — the most in more than a decade. AZGFD collected 519 samples from animals that were harvested and voluntarily submitted by hunters, and another 1,070 samples through partnerships with game processors and taxidermists. 

AZGFD 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.

The department is grateful for the assistance of hunters who submit deer and elk heads for testing, as well as the cooperation of game processors and taxidermists. For more information about CWD, visit the Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance website at Also, check out a video that addresses 14 of the most commonly asked questions about CWD. The questions were submitted by hunters from across the nation, and the answers were provided by top CWD experts and researchers. The video was produced by the National Deer Alliance. 


BUCKEYE, Ariz. — The next meeting of the Arizona Game and Fish Commission will be Friday, April 16, in the Buckeye City Council chambers, 530 E. Monroe Ave., in Buckeye, Ariz. The meeting begins at 8 a.m.

A complete agenda and more information on viewing the meeting, or speaking to the commission, can be found here or at

264 bites recorded statewide in 2020


PHOENIX — With more people getting outdoors to take advantage of the state’s warm, spring weather, it’s important to keep in mind that 13 species of rattlesnakes also call Arizona home.

Depending on location, the species that are encountered most often are the Western diamondback, sidewinder, Mojave and black-tailed rattlesnakes.  

Arizona has more rattlesnake species than any other state, and we can all celebrate that amazing biodiversity,” said Thomas Jones, amphibians and reptiles program manager for the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

In warm desert areas, rattlesnakes are most active from March through October. During the spring, it’s not uncommon for rattlesnakes to be out during daylight hours. As the days become increasingly hot, though, usually around early May, rattlesnakes tend to move around more at night.

April is typically an active month for rattlesnakes, as they are coming out of hibernation.We want people to know that there is a higher than average chance that they might encounter a rattlesnake when they are out recreating,” Jones said. 

Statewide, 35 bites were reported last April to the Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center. 

Watch your step at home

Rattlesnakes can easily blend in with their surroundings, so a person should always be mindful where they are placing their feet and hands. Carry a flashlight at night, especially on warmer nights when rattlesnakes can be most active. 

Stay on the trail 

Encounters with rattlesnakes and other venomous reptiles can take place anywhere, but they are more likely to occur when a person leaves a marked trail or wanders away from a heavily traveled area. Always stay on marked trails and be aware of your surroundings. 

When encountering a rattlesnake, remember that the reptile is more concerned with being left alone. Back away from the rattlesnake, give it a wide berth, and continue on your way. An agitated rattlesnake will often hold its ground but will not give chase. 

“Although accidents certainly happen, rattlesnakes are typically not dangerous unless provoked,” Jones said.  

If a rattlesnake bite occurs:

  • Remain calm and reassure the victim. 
  • Call 911 and seek medical attention without delay. 
  • Remove all jewelry, watches, etc. from the affected area. 
  • Immobilize the extremity and keep at level below the heart. 
  • Decrease total body activity as is feasible.

What NOT to do if a rattlesnake bite occurs: 

  • Do NOT apply ice to the bite area.
  • Do NOT use an incision of any kind.
  • Do NOT use a constriction band or tourniquet.  
  • Do NOT administer alcohol or drugs. 
  • Do NOT use electric shock treatment.

Leaving a rattlesnake alone can significantly reduce the risk of being bitten. In fact, more than half of all rattlesnake bites are provoked by the person who was bitten.  For additional information and resources about rattlesnake bites, contact the Arizona Poison Drug and Information Center at 1-800-222-1222. 

PHOENIX — The Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) recently hosted a webcast to gather public input on proposed hunt recommendations for deer, javelina, bighorn sheep, bison, small game, migratory birds, and other species.

A webcast recording of the March 30 presentation, as well as the proposed hunt recommendations, can be viewed at

AZGFD is always seeking feedback on how to best meet the demands of the hunting public, while finding ways to develop new opportunities that help pass along our hunting heritage to future generations. Questions and comments about the proposed hunt recommendations, or existing hunt management approaches, may be submitted via email to

“We will respond to all comments via a return email, and all comments will be shared with the (Arizona Game and Fish) Commission,” said Amber Munig, big game management program supervisor. 

The existing hunt management approaches or hunt guidelines provide the biological and social parameters used by wildlife biologists to develop annual hunt recommendations (season structures, season lengths, season dates, permits allocated, etc.). These recommendations result in the annual hunts in which licensed hunters may participate. 

While hunting opportunity is important, wildlife is held in the public trust; therefore, using science-based principles to shape the guidelines process remains paramount to ensure healthy, sustainable and diverse wildlife populations in perpetuity.

Frank DeSomma Memorial Range to offer steel targets 


PHOENIX — The distinctive sound of a bullet hitting steel soon will be heard on the newly named Frank DeSomma Memorial Range at the world-class Ben Avery Shooting Facility.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD), in partnership with Phoenix-based Patriot Ordnance Factory (POF-USA), will provide an opportunity for recreational shooters to take aim at reactive steel targets set at 200, 300, 400 and 500 meters beginning Saturday, April 3. 

The range, named after the late Frank DeSomma, founder of POF-USA, will be open from 7:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. (no start times after 1:30 p.m.) Wednesday through Sunday, depending on range availability. Customers can only reserve shooting times at

Reservations are time-certain. To ensure all customers have the same opportunity, arriving early or late will not change a person’s reservation start or end time. A reservation block is scheduled for one hour, and customers will be prompted when the end time is approaching to ensure they have time to pack up their equipment and depart.

The reactive steel targets vary in size, depending on distance. The targets set at 200 and 300 meters range from 4 to 20 inches, while the targets set at 400 and 500 meters range from 6 to 24 inches. Armor-piercing steel core/steel jacket, solid copper and other hardened bullets are strictly prohibited. Ammunition may be inspected to ensure safety guidelines are being followed. An inspection may be conducted, at the customer’s request, to determine if a particular type of ammunition is permitted.

As a reminder, all firearms must be cased before entering the range. All customers are responsible for picking up their spent casings. Customers can purchase eye and hearing protection when making a reservation. 

Range staff will be conducting sanitizing procedures on the range, based on the CDC’s latest recommendations. For more information, as well as a complete list of rules, visit

PHOENIX — The Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) will host a webcast tonight (Tuesday, March 30) to gather public input on proposed hunt recommendations for deer, javelina, bighorn sheep, bison, small game, migratory birds, and other species.

The proposed hunt recommendations are available on the department’s website at The webcast begins at 6 p.m. and can be viewed at

AZGFD is always seeking feedback on how to best meet the demands of the hunting public, while finding ways to develop new opportunities that help pass along our hunting heritage to future generations. Questions and comments about the proposed hunt recommendations, or existing hunt management approaches, may be submitted via email to

“We will respond to all comments via a return email, and all comments will be shared with the (Arizona Game and Fish) Commission,” said Amber Munig, big game management program supervisor. 

For those who miss the webcast, it will be recorded and available to be viewed at Additional comments can be emailed to      

Help prevent spread of aquatic invasive species


PHOENIX — Arizona’s mild winter weather is a perfect time for boaters to get out and cruise the state’s waterways.   

But before trailering that vessel and heading home, the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) wants to ensure that boaters aren’t transporting any aquatic invasive species (AIS). AZGFD, along with authorized contractors, is offering free inspections and decontamination of boats traveling away from waters designated as sources of AIS.

“Watercraft inspection and decontamination programs are extremely effective in preventing the spread of AIS, but we need the public’s cooperation,” said Kate Dukette, aquatic invasive species coordinator. “Having your boat inspected and, if necessary, decontaminated is critical in stopping the spread of mussels and AIS into other bodies of water.”  

Whether a boater lives in Arizona, or is visiting from another state, helping to stop the spread of AIS is the responsibility of everyone working together to protect and keep the state’s waterways clean. In fact, traveling across state lines with AIS can result in fines, quarantines and even impoundments. Decontamination is required for watercraft that have been exposed to quagga mussel-infested waters for six or more consecutive days.  

AIS are non-native species that are often unintentionally introduced by human movement. They do not have predators outside of their native range and are able to outcompete native species. 

They can be animals, plants and even pathogens that cause disease in native fish or other aquatic animals. Often invisible to the naked eye, AIS can be extremely difficult to control. Once introduced, they can alter or destroy ecosystems by interrupting food chains, cause damage to boats or recreational gear, clog water and power infrastructure, and create safety hazards.

To schedule an inspection or decontamination (call two to three weeks in advance):

  • Arizona Game and Fish AIS Program: 623-236-7608
  • Woods to Water Wildlife Solutions LLC: 602-920-4891
  • Katherine Landing (Lake Mohave/Bullhead City): 928-754-3245


  • Clean boats, waders, anchors, equipment and gear by removing mud, plants, and attached animals such as snails or quagga mussels. Freeze waders overnight to eliminate fish pathogens and other aquatic hitchhikers.
  • Drain all residual water from engines and motors, ballast tanks, live wells and bait wells. Pull the bilge plug and leave it out during transport. Store it in a location where it will be remembered before the next launch, such as beside the boat keys or in the glove box.
  • Dry all equipment that comes in contact with water, such as life jackets, ropes, buoys, tubes, etc.

“It is our responsibility to be stewards of the places that we love,” Dukette said. “Stopping the spread of AIS keeps our waters clean and beautiful for ourselves and future generations.”

For more information on aquatic invasive species, visit:


Applications for leftover elk permit-tags will be accepted by mail beginning Monday 


PHOENIX — The Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) has completed its random draw for 2021 elk and pronghorn hunt permit-tags. 

The results are available for those who have a free AZGFD portal account, or by calling 602-942-3000, pressing “2” and following the prompts. Be prepared to provide a Social Security number or Department ID number, and date of birth. This service is free. 

To open a portal account, visit and complete the required fields. A portal account allows customers to create a secure account where they can view and manage their contact information, as well as their licenses, draw results history and bonus points in their personal “My AZGFD Dashboard” section. For questions about creating a portal account, call AZGFD at 602-942-3000 and press “7.”  

Meanwhile, AZGFD has posted a list of leftover hunt permit-tags, as well as a printable paper application, on its website.There are 707 leftover hunt permit-tags, including 661 for the minimal occurrence zone/low density (general) hunt in game management units 12A, 12B, 13A and 13B. 

The department will begin accepting paper applications for leftover hunt permit-tags on a first-come, first-served basis — by mail only — beginning Monday, March 22. All completed paper applications must be addressed to: Arizona Game and Fish Department, Attn.: Draw/First Come, 5000 W. Carefree Highway, Phoenix, AZ  85086. There is no “mini” draw. Allow 10 to 15 business days to receive a hunt permit-tag by mail.

Any remaining leftover hunt permit-tags will go on sale on a first-come, first-served basis beginning Monday, March 29. To ensure public health and safety protocols are observed, customers will be required to first contact customer service at 602-942-3000 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Some of the leftover hunt permit-tags are for Hopi hunt open areas and are available to everyone, both tribal members and non-tribal members, through the first-come, first-served process.

A number of leftover hunt permit-tags remain for military hunts at Camp Navajo, for those who qualify. For more information, visit 

For more information, including license and hunt permit-tag requirements, view the “2021 Pronghorn and Elk Hunt Draw Information” booklet online, or call 602-942-3000.     

Pleasant Harbor July_Sept 2016