During extreme drought AZGFD assists thirsty wildlife
Posted July 6, 2018
Public texts SENDWATER to 41444 to assist department to conserve, protect wildlife
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 has trucked or airlifted about 600,000 gallons of precious water to catchments throughout the state since January. And trail cameras tell the tale of this important work with footage of elk, deer, bighorn sheep and countless other species leaning over for a refreshing drink at one of 3,000 catchments maintained by the department.
“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 and anticipate having to haul more than 1.5 million gallons of water this year.”
To help defray rising costs of providing life-sustaining water for Arizona’s wildlife, AZGFD recently began its “Water for Wildlife” donation campaign to give the public an opportunity to support its efforts by texting SENDWATER to 41444 from any smartphone. After doing so, a link with the department’s logo will be sent to the phone to complete the donation.
Funding raised ensures that the department can still deliver water to remote regions of the state and help 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 many great wildlife groups, the department bears much of the costs to haul water to and maintain about 1,000 of its own catchments statewide, some of which must be filled with water flown in by helicopter. Additionally, the department also maintains an additional 1,000 Bureau of Land Management and 1,000 U.S. Forest Service water catchments.
For more information about how the Arizona Game and Fish Department conserves and protects the state’s wildlife or to make a donation to the Water for Wildlife campaign, visit www.azwildlifehero.com, or use your smartphone to text SENDWATER to 41444.