Lake Pleasant bald eagles star on live-streaming camera 

Hopes are high for nestlings as camera’s second season begins

PHOENIX — The nest is primed and the live-streaming camera is already broadcasting the day-to-day life of a pair of bald eagles hoping to raise a family inside their Lake Pleasant Regional Park nest.

Nearly 400,000 viewers tuned in for the inaugural season to watch the unfiltered drama that transpired earlier this year. They saw competing male bald eagles repeatedly divebomb each other for territory, and watched as a total of four eggs were laid in two separate clutches that were later scavenged by ravens and a ringtail.

So what’s in store for season two?  

“Some nestlings, we hope!” said Jeff Meyers, Arizona Game and Fish Department Watchable Wildlife program manager. “Despite lacking young last season, the bald eagle camera was a huge success because viewers saw the real-life struggles of nature. That struggle is real, and through these cameras, the public can gain a new appreciation for our fascinating wildlife.” 

Watch the cam

The bald eagle cam is one of four wildlife cameras offered by the department, which also provides seasonal views of wintering sandhill cranes in southeastern Arizona, a bat roost at Cluff Ranch Wildlife Area and an underwater pupfish cam. A fifth — a camera placed near a great horned owl nest — is on the horizon and will join the other streaming feeds later at www.azgfd.gov/livecams.

The public is invited to check the cameras often if there is no activity in the nest as the birds will leave at multiple times for feeding. If eggs are laid, the viewing will be more consistent and predictable.

Records show bald eagles inhabited nests at Lake Pleasant since at least 1979, with the first documented nesting attempt occurring in 1984. While no young were produced until 1993, 28 birds have since survived to take their first flight, known as fledging.

Statewide there are a record 74 breeding areas, which helped to produce 99 eggs and 72 eagle nestlings, with 65 birds fledging the nest, according to AZGFD’s 2019 annual survey. 

The Arizona Game and Fish Department Lake Pleasant bald eagle live-streaming camera is funded through Heritage and Pittman Robertson funds, the Southwestern Bald Eagle Management Committee and public donations. It was installed in fall 2018 in partnership with Salt River Project, Maricopa County Parks and Recreation Department, Arizona State Land Department and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. 

For more information about what AZGFD does to manage the state’s 800-plus native species, including bald eagles, visit www.azgfd.gov. Those wanting to support AZGFD’s mission to conserve and protect Arizona’s wildlife can sign up for a Conservation Membership package at www.azwildlifehero.com.

Outdoor recreationists, pilots and drone operators asked to avoid bald eagle nest areas 

PHOENIX — Arizona’s bald eagles are back and they will soon be working on the next generation of eagles at breeding sites statewide.

To assist with the state’s continued bald eagle population growth, the Arizona Game and Fish Department encourages outdoor recreationists, aircraft pilots, drone operators and motorized paragliders to do their part by not disturbing the state’s 89 eagle breeding areas. As such, some portions of public land and water areas will be temporarily closed to help protect these majestic animals to ensure even more young eagles take to the skies this spring. 

“Arizona’s bald eagles are busy preparing their nest for what’s hoped to be a productive breeding season,” said Kenneth “Tuk” Jacobson, AZGFD bald eagle management coordinator. “The birds nest, forage and roost at rivers and lakes that are also popular recreation spots. That’s why we must be vigilant to help protect the birds to ensure their populations statewide continue to flourish. That success wouldn’t be possible without the cooperation of outdoor recreationists who respect the closures during the breeding season.” 

Watch videos on Arizona’s bald eagles

During the 2019 breeding season, 71 young hatched and 63 reached the important milestone of their first flight, known as fledging. 

To further protect the eagles, various land and wildlife management agencies will also close areas around breeding locations, including near popular recreation sites.

Pilots are reminded to maintain the FAA-recommended 2,000-foot above ground level advisory when flying over bald eagle habitat, while drones and paragliders are asked to avoid the areas completely. Bald eagles are sensitive to even short durations of low-flying aircraft activity near their nests and just a few minutes of disturbance can lead to a nesting failure. 

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

AIRSPACE ADVISORY

Statewide

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has established a 2000-foot above ground level (AGL) advisory along the Salt and Verde river drainages and lakes such as Lake Pleasant, Roosevelt Lake and Alamo Lake. These areas are designated on the Phoenix Sectional Aeronautical map and also include Alamo Lake, Ashurst Lake, Greer Lakes, Crescent Lake, Luna Lake, Show Low Lake, Chevelon Canyon Lake, Woods Canyon Lake, Lake Mary, Dogtown Reservoir, White Horse Lake and the Bill Williams National Wildlife Refuge. 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 Terrestrial Wildlife branch at (623) 236-7506.

SEASONAL CLOSURES

Verde River 

  • A closure for the Verde River below Sycamore Canyon Wilderness is not planned this year unless the eagle pair resumes nesting. Verde River below Sycamore Canyon Wilderness may be closed to foot and vehicle entry from Dec. 1 to June 15. Floating through is allowed, but contact the Coconino National Forest, Red Rock Ranger District office for more information at (928) 203-7500 or (928) 203-2900.
  • Verde River near Chasm Creek is closed to foot and vehicle entry from Dec. 1 to June 30. Floating through is allowed. Contact Prescott National Forest Verde Ranger District (928) 567-4121.
  • Verde River near Cold Water Creek, allows watercraft to float through but no stopping on the river or landing is allowed Dec. 1 to June 30. Contact Prescott National Forest Verde Ranger District at (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 allowed. Contact the Tonto National Forest Cave Creek Ranger District at (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 the Tonto National Forest Cave Creek Ranger District at (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, but no stopping in the river or landing is allowed. Contact the Tonto National Forest Cave Creek Ranger District at (480) 595-3300.
  • Verde River at the Needle Rock Recreation area is closed to foot and vehicle entry on the east and portions of the west 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 the 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 the Tonto National Forest Tonto Basin Ranger District at (928) 467-3200.
  • Tonto Creek inlet to Roosevelt Lake is closed to vehicle and foot entry within 1,000 feet of the nest on land and to watercraft within 300 feet on water from Dec. 1 to June 30. Contact the Tonto National Forest Tonto Basin Ranger District at (602) 225-5395.

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 the Tonto National Forest Globe Ranger District at (928) 402-6200.
  • Salt River near Meddler Point is closed to vehicle and foot entry within 1,000 feet of the nest on land and to watercraft within 300 feet on water from Dec. 1 to June 30. Contact the Tonto National Forest Tonto Basin Ranger at District (602) 225-5395.
  • 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 at (480) 610-3300.
  • Salt River near Goldfield-Kerr Fire Station is closed to foot and vehicle entry on the north side of the river from Dec. 1 to June 30. Floating through is allowed. Contact the Tonto National Forest Mesa Ranger District at (480) 610-3300. 

Crescent Lake

A portion of the west side is closed to all entry from March 1 through Aug. 31. Contact the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest Springerville Ranger District at (928) 333-6200.

Greer Lakes

(Tunnel and River) (not enacted unless pair moves nesting location) – Portions of the lakes 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 at (928) 333-6200.

Horseshoe Lake

Depending on the nesting location, a portion of the lake may be closed from Dec. 1 to June 30. Contact the Arizona Game and Fish Department at (623) 236-7506. 

Lake Pleasant

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

Luna Lake

The north side of Luna Lake is closed to vehicle and foot traffic from Jan. 1 to June 15. Contact Apache National Forest Alpine Ranger District at (928) 339-5000.

Lynx Lake

A portion of the lake’s east side is closed to vehicle and foot traffic from Dec. 1 to June 30. Contact the Prescott National Forest Bradshaw Ranger District at (928) 443-8000.

Show Low Lake

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 Aug. 31. Contact the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest Lakeside Ranger District at (928) 368-2100.

White Horse Lake

A portion of the shoreline may be closed to foot entry from March 1 to Aug. 31. Contact the Kaibab National Forest Williams Ranger District at (928) 635-5600.

Woods Canyon Lake

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

TIPS FOR VISITING EAGLE AREAS

If you are visiting bald eagle country, an advance call to the local land management agency, such as the local U.S. Forest Service district office, or the Arizona Game and Fish Department may help to 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, which are marked with signs and/or buoys. Watch from a distance using a spotting scope, binoculars or telephoto camera lens. 
  • 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, on the Verde Canyon Train in Clarkdale or Roosevelt Lake.
  • 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.
  • Help from anglers is especially needed. Fishing line and tackle have killed two nestlings and been found in two-thirds of all bald eagle nests in the state. Every year biologists remove these lethal hazards from nests and/or entangled nestlings. Discard any fishing line properly in specially-marked recycling containers or at fishing stores. Also, use fresh line that isn’t old and brittle. 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. 
  • Duck hunters should scout out their hunting area to ensure that bald eagles are not nesting nearby.  

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 (800) 352-0700 or U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Law Enforcement at (480) 967-7900.

Reward offered for information leading to an arrest

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — The Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) is investigating the poaching of a mule deer buck between Oct. 27 and 29 on the Kaibab Plateau in Game Management Unit 12AW.

The dead buck was left for waste at a wildlife water east of the road 235A and the poacher made no attempt to hide the animal. Game camera photos from the area show three individuals at the scene on the day the incident likely occurred and AZGFD is asking for any information that may identify these individuals.

“Someone may have seen these three individuals in the area,” AZGFD Wildlife Manager Todd Buck said. “We need assistance from the public to identify the individuals responsible. This is the action of a criminal — no true sportsman would leave game in the field to rot.”

At the time the poaching occurred, there were active hunts and many hunters were actively scouting for upcoming hunts. It is also hoped that other outdoor recreationists were in the area and may have seen something or have valuable information about this crime.

Anyone with information about this case can call AZGFD’s Operation Game Thief hotline at (800) 352-0700 or visit www.azgfd.com/ogt and refer to case #19-003719.

Callers may remain anonymous upon request and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,500 in this case upon arrest.

PHOENIX — As a major storm sets its crosshairs on Arizona this week, the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) reminds hunters, anglers and other outdoor recreationists to be prepared before heading out.

Image

A preliminary forecast model of potential snowfall amounts from Wednesday, Nov. 27 through Saturday, Nov. 30. This model was issued by the National Weather Service in Flagstaff and was current as of Monday, Nov. 25.

The National Weather Service expects the storm to produce significant rainfall at lower elevations and several inches of snow in the high country, just as some elk hunters are expected to begin their hunts. 

Read more from the Apache-Sitegreaves National Forest

Some U.S. Forest Service roads may be closed or under special restrictions because of the incoming storm. Please contact the appropriate land management office ahead of time for the latest information on any road closures and restrictions.

“Hunting is already an exciting challenge on its own, but if you’re not prepared when a cold, wet storm is barreling down upon you, it can be downright dangerous,” AZGFD Wildlife Manager Erin Brown said. “That’s why it’s important to check the extended weather forecast before heading out and to be prepared with adequate food, water, a shovel and other supplies. Dirt roads can become impassable when deep snows hit the high country and can become quagmires at the lower elevations when heavy rain hits.”

In addition, those heading outdoors should carry:

  • Snow chains in higher elevations
  • A charged cell phone and spare battery
  • Extra dry clothing
  • Shelter material such as a tarp, large leaf bag or space blanket
  • A first aid kit
  • A fire starting kit or backcountry stove
  • Signaling equipment such as a whistle and signaling mirror
  • Navigation equipment such as a map, compass and GPS

Torrential rains can cause flooding along rivers, streams, washes and arroyos throughout the state. Once a storm passes, muddy or snow-laden roads can remain a challenge and driving on them can cause habitat damage or cause vehicles to become stranded. 

It may also be difficult or impossible to remove trailers or other equipment from forested or other areas following a heavy snowstorm. 

Camera feed offers viewers a unique, convenient experience of migrating birds

PHOENIX — Sandhill cranes have returned to southeastern Arizona and the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s live-streaming camera is again trained on their wintering grounds at Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area.

The live stream, which can be viewed at www.azgfd.gov/sandhillcranes, offers viewers a glimpse into the wintering habits of up to 14,000 cranes roosting at the wildlife area. The live stream is offered through March or early April when the birds migrate to northern nesting grounds. 

“Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area has again sprung to life with thousands of Sandhill cranes,” AZGFD Watchable Wildlife Program Manager Jeff Meyers said, noting that each year sandhill cranes come as far away as Siberia to winter in southern Arizona. “It’s a true pleasure to offer this high-definition camera to bring an unfiltered view of our state’s wildlife directly to the public.”

The best time to view the birds is a half-hour before and after sunrise, just before they leave to feed for the morning and when they return sometime before noon. The cranes will typically remain at the wildlife area for the remainder of the day, and with the inclusion of infrared technology, the camera now allows viewers to see the birds at night.

While the department will do its best to keep the camera focused on the cranes and other interesting wildlife subjects, there will be times it isn’t possible due to the unpredictability of wildlife. Viewers that don’t see activity when they try the camera are encouraged to routinely check back. 

Worldwide there are 15 species of cranes scattered across the globe. Two species of cranes are found in North America: the endangered whooping crane and sandhill cranes, which are the most abundant crane species on the planet.

They are wary birds that shy away from areas of dense vegetation that may conceal predators. Cranes prefer to feed and roost in open areas where potential danger can be seen from a distance. 

The sandhill crane live-stream is supported by the Wildlife Conservation Fund, which comes from tribal gaming and the Wildlife Viewing Program. The cameras are supported in part by public donations. 

To view the live-streaming cameras or to find information on wildlife viewing and upcoming events visit www.azgfd.gov/wildlife and click on “Wildlife Viewing.”

New decal required for nonresidents to ride in Arizona, purchased only through AZGFD 

PHOENIX — The Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) reminds seasonal residents and visitors who brought an off-highway vehicle into the state that they must now purchase an OHV decal prior to heading out on trails.

The new decal is required under a 2019 law that was supported and carried by the riding community to allow nonresidents to lawfully ride within the state while funding trail maintenance, education and law enforcement efforts.

Since the nonresident OHV decal went on sale Sept. 1, nearly 3,000 have been purchased by residents in 36 states and Canada. So far data shows the most decals were purchased by users in California, Utah, Nevada and Idaho. 

All OHVs designed by the manufacturer primarily for use over unimproved terrain and that weigh 2,500 pounds or less are required by law to display a valid OHV decal to operate on public and state trust lands. This includes “street legal” OHVs that meet those two requirements.

Both resident and nonresident OHV decals cost $25 (plus a processing fee) and are good for one year from the purchase date. While the resident OHV decal can be purchased at any Arizona Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Division office or at www.servicearizona.com, the nonresident OHV decal can only be purchased online through an Arizona Game and Fish Department portal account, which can be created at www.azgfd.gov by clicking “My Account.” 

The decal is not sold at AZGFD offices. Nonresidents with multiple machines must also purchase additional decals, as each OHV must have its own decal. Owners should also know the following:

  • Decals are not transferable between OHVs.
  • The nonresident OHV decal will be mailed within two to three weeks from the date of purchase, but purchasers can show their receipt (or a screenshot of it) for up to 30 days as proof of decal purchase. 
  • Exemptions from the law include those participating in OHV special events; operating on private land; loading or unloading from a vehicle; operating during an emergency, if directed by a law enforcement officer; or if the OHV displays a valid dealer license plate.
  • Helmets are required by law to be worn by all operators and passengers under the age of 18, but they’re strongly recommended for everyone.

Prior to the new law, nonresident OHV owners could ride their machines within the state for up to 30 days if their machine had a current OHV decal from their home state. However, there no longer is a grace period allowing nonresidents to operate without an Arizona decal. 

Those caught riding without a current decal can be fined. For more information visit www.azgfd.gov/OHV

Challenges remain, population recovery continues after 2017 Frye Fire 

PHOENIX — Arizona’s embattled Mount Graham red squirrel population grew 4% in 2019, providing proof that the endangered squirrel continues its fight back two years after nearly being wiped out by a devastating wildfire. 

The stabilization of the population over the past year comes after much of the territorial squirrel’s habitat was severely damaged in 2017 by the Frye Fire in the Pinaleño Mountains in southeastern Arizona. In September, the annual survey found a minimum estimate of 78 squirrels, which is in line with the 75 squirrels found in 2018.

“Much work must be done to help conserve and protect this resilient, intrepid animal, but consistent estimates of the population since the fire are encouraging for the Mount Graham red squirrel’s overall recovery,” said Tim Snow, AZGFD terrestrial wildlife specialist. “This squirrel has faced significant, daunting challenges, but the Arizona Game and Fish Department and our partners will continue our work to give it a fighting shot at survival.” 

The annual population estimate is made by monitoring all known midden locations for activity. The middens — areas where red squirrels store their spruce, fir and pinecone cache for the upcoming winter — are then surveyed every fall by the Arizona Game and Fish Department, Coronado National Forest, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Arizona Center for Nature Conservation – Phoenix Zoo, and the University of Arizona. 

“We really appreciate the hard work that all of our partners are doing to ensure the endangered Mount Graham red squirrel continues to be a part of Arizona’s incredible diversity of wildlife,” said Marit Alanen, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist. “Ensuring its recovery will take a lot of effort, but it’s through collaborations between multiple agencies and partners that will ultimately be able to recover the squirrel.”  

The Mount Graham red squirrel is a subspecies that can only be found in the upper elevation conifer forests of the Pinaleño Mountains. The squirrel’s population peaked at about 550 in the late 1990s, but typically ranged between 200 and 300 before the Frye Fire.

The subspecies was thought to have been extinct in the 1950s, but was rediscovered decades later and granted protection under the Endangered Species Act in 1987. 

Its diet consists primarily of conifer seeds, but also includes insects, mushrooms, bird eggs, nestlings and other items. Mount Graham red squirrels are highly territorial and will aggressively defend their middens or food cache. In addition, they have lower reproductive rates and a shorter average lifespan than other subspecies of red squirrels. 

Further complicating its recovery are long-term impacts to squirrel habitat from high-intensity wildfires that can reduce food sources and cover from predators. There’s also increased competition for food with non-native Abert’s squirrels and poor cone crops caused by drought — all of which can influence population estimates. 

“We place a high value on this partnership supporting the Mount Graham red squirrel,” said Coronado National Forest Supervisor Kerwin Dewberry. “This year we’ve improved habitat through anti-aggregation pheromone deployment, tree thinning, cone and seed collection for future plantings and surveys of squirrels and tree seedling survival. Each agency brings its unique talents to this effort. We’re proud to be a part of it.”

Biologists continue their research to explore new methods to help conserve and protect the species and develop long-term forest management strategies across the fire-impacted landscape, such as re-seeding and planting coniferous trees and a managed care breeding program. 

To learn more about how AZGFD works to conserve and protect the state’s wildlife, visit www.azgfd.gov. To provide a contribution to support the department’s on-the-ground conservation efforts, visit www.azwildlifehero.com.

Javelina eating a pumpkin on Ft. Huachuca (file photo).

PHOENIX — The Halloween season is upon us and those carefully carved pumpkins sitting outside may be attracting some unwanted trick-or-treaters: hungry javelina and other wildlife looking for an easy meal.

“A ripened pumpkin sitting outdoors is like candy for javelina,” said Darren Julian, urban wildlife specialist with the Arizona Game and Fish Department. “Pumpkins and other edible decorations are easy meals for wildlife and often attract javelina, coyotes, deer and even bears. Habituating wildlife to human food sources can lead to property damage and potential conflicts that could result in serious injuries to people or pets.”

The department 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. If they must be displayed outdoors, be sure to place them high off the ground where they cannot be reached by wildlife. 

Additionally, the public is reminded that it is illegal under state law (A.R.S. 13-2927) to knowingly feed wildlife in Pima, Maricopa and Pinal counties, with the exception of birds as well as tree squirrels, which are rare at lower elevations. Intentionally feeding wildlife is a crime as it can create a public safety hazard when wildlife are unable to find the meal they’re seeking.  

Other wildlife may eat birdseed, 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 more tips on minimizing wildlife conflicts, visit www.azgfd.gov/urbanwildlife.

PHOENIX — Bats get a bad rap.

To some, they’re creepy flyers of the night, waiting to swoop from the skies and scare unsuspecting people out for an evening stroll. Little do they know that bats are essential to Arizona’s ecosystems and agricultural economy, eating millions of insects nightly each summer, while others are important pollinators, feeding on nectar, pollen and flowering desert plants.  

The Arizona Game and Fish Department aims to change that stigma during Bat Week, an international celebration that runs from Oct. 24 to 31 to recognize the important role bats play in nature. 

“Twenty-eight bat species call Arizona home,” said Angie McIntire, an Arizona Game and Fish Department biologist and bat specialist. “These fascinating animals are hard at work every night eating their body weight in insects, such as moths, mosquitoes, aquatic insects and flies.”

The Mexican free-tailed bat can fly upwards of 100 mph and is found throughout the western U.S., but it migrates south to Mexico and Central America during winter. These bats roost in large colonies inside caves, under bridges or in abandoned buildings near water, such as at the urban bat-viewing area in Phoenix near the intersection of 40th Street and Camelback Road, and the Ina Road Bridge over the Santa Cruz River in Tucson.

Townsend’s big-eared bats are a delicate, beautiful species with large, long ears that fold down and look like ram horns when resting or hibernating in abandoned mines or caves. 

The canyon bat (formerly known as Western pipistrelle) is Arizona’s smallest bat, weighing between 3 to 6 grams and has a wingspan of up to 9 inches. It’s one of the earliest bats out searching for dinner and is often seen fluttering like a butterfly. 

While bats have many supporters, the unfounded stigma of disease-carrying mammals still lingers.

“Although public perception is changing, many people still associate bats with rabies,” McIntire said “There are hundreds of thousands of bats flying throughout Arizona’s night skies, but only a very small percentage of these are found to carry illnesses such as rabies. Bats are no more or less likely to carry diseases as any other animal.” 

However, if a bat is within reach and doesn’t fly away when approached it is likely sick as healthy bats will not leave themselves vulnerable. Never handle a bat that’s been found on the ground or hanging low on a building or wall, instead notify your nearest AZGFD office.

As part of Bat Week, the department encourages the public to help conserve and protect the state’s bats by learning more about them and planting native plants that will attract insects or fruit-bearing desert plants to support those looking for nectar, such as the lesser long-nosed bat — one of two nectar bats in Arizona that will also use hummingbird feeders. 

Those who see lesser long-nosed bats using their birdfeeders are asked to notify AZGFD to participate in an ongoing study

“Bats may not be for everyone, but they benefit us all,” McIntire said. “Take the pallid bat: if you’re not a fan of scorpions or centipedes, these bats are the ones you’ll want around your home. They’ll happily swoop down onto your property to make a quick meal out of them.” 

To learn more about how AZGFD works to conserve and protect the state’s wildlife, visit www.azgfd.gov. To provide a contribution to support the department’s on-the-ground conservation efforts, visit www.azwildlifehero.com.

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — Those wishing to discuss all things game management, including hunt recommendations, are invited to join Arizona Game and Fish Department staff at Bull Basin Archery of Flagstaff on Saturday, Oct. 19.

Watch a video on the hunt recommendation process

“This meeting is a great opportunity to hear from our constituents about all topics related to our game management practices and how they pertain to upcoming elk, pronghorn and wild turkey hunting recommendations,” AZGFD Flagstaff Regional Supervisor Scott Poppenberger said. “We work hard to conserve and protect more than 800 species and part of that responsibility includes a science-based hunt recommendation process designed to ensure sustainable populations of wildlife are around for future generations.”

The event is open to the public and runs from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 19. 

Input and recommendations are later presented to the Arizona Game and Fish Commission, which has final approval for all hunting regulation changes. 

To learn more about how AZGFD works to conserve and protect the state’s wildlife or information about upcoming Arizona Game and Fish Commission meetings, visit www.azgfd.gov. To provide a contribution to support the department’s on-the-ground conservation efforts, visit www.azwildlifehero.com.

Pleasant Harbor July_Sept 2016