AZGFD assists thirsty wildlife during extreme heat, drought
Posted August 20, 2020
Public can help by texting “SENDWATER” to 41444
PHOENIX — Water is the essence of life, and it’s just as precious for Arizona’s wildlife.
For that reason, the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) has trucked and airlifted about 250,000 gallons of life-sustaining water to catchments throughout the state since January.
Trail cameras document the results of this critical work, with footage of elk, deer, bighorn sheep and other species leaning over for a refreshing drink at one of 3,000 catchments maintained by AZGFD.
“Water catchments don’t discriminate; they’re used by all wildlife from big game to some of the smallest squirrels, lizards, birds, bats and even bees,” said Joseph Currie, AZGFD habitat planning program manager, who oversees the department’s water-catchment efforts.
“Our crews typically stop hauling water in August after monsoon rains refill much of our water catchments. However, due to this extreme drought, we haven’t stopped. We anticipate having to haul more than 800,000 gallons of water this year.”
To help defray the rising costs of providing life-saving water for Arizona’s wildlife, AZGFD relies on its Send Water donation campaign to give the public an opportunity to support these efforts, simply by texting “SENDWATER” to 41444 from any smartphone.
All funds that are raised ensure that the department can still deliver water to remote regions of the state and help to mitigate population fluctuations caused by severe lingering droughts.
“Historic drought periods, such as this one, were typically followed by massive die-offs of wildlife,” Currie said. “By hauling water, we are able to stabilize those populations, keeping them alive and out of urban areas in search of water.”
While AZGFD partners with several wildlife organizations, the department bears much of the cost of hauling water to and maintaining about 1,000 of its own catchments statewide, some of which must be filled with water flown in by helicopter. Additionally, AZGFD maintains 1,000 Bureau of Land Management and 1,000 U.S. Forest Service water catchments.
For more information about how AZGFD conserves and protects 800-plus wildlife species that call Arizona home, or to make a donation to the Send Water campaign, visit AZwildlifehero.com.