Wild+Life is a monthly e-newsletter with news about wildlife-watching activities, wildlife natural history, habitat and research projects benefiting wildlife, fun facts and upcoming events. Sign up to get Wild+Life delivered to your inbox every month.
In This Issue
- Wild Arizona: Restrictions in place as bald eagle breeding season begins
- AZGFD in the News: Meet the crew who works and lives at Page Springs Fish Hatchery in Yavapai County
- Wild Arizona: How about making an outdoor New Year’s resolution?
- Walk on the Wild Side: Arlington Wildlife Area
- Upcoming Events: Virtual speaker wildlife series
- Video of the Month: Striped Skunk: Arizona Game and Fish Wildlife Center Animal Ambassador
Arizona’s bald eagles are back, and they will soon be preparing for 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 (AZGFD) encourages outdoor recreationists, aircraft pilots, drone operators and motorized paragliders to do their part by not disturbing the state’s 93 eagle breeding areas.
To protect breeding attempts, some portions of public land and water areas will be temporarily closed to help these majestic animals and ensure even more young eagles take to the skies this spring.
“Arizona’s bald eagles are hard at work preparing their nest for what we hope will be a productive breeding season,” said Kenneth “Tuk” Jacobson, 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 and 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.”
During the 2021 breeding season, 87 young hatched, and 69 reached the important milestone of their first flight, known as fledging.
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.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has established a 2,000-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 AZGFD’s Terrestrial Wildlife branch at 623- 236-7506.
- 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 the Prescott National Forest, Verde Ranger District, at 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 the 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, at 480-595-3300.
- 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 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 District, at 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.
A portion of land west of the lakes closed to all entry from March 1 through Aug. 31. Contact the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, Springerville Ranger District, at 928-333-6200.
Fool Hollow Lake
A portion of the shoreline may be closed to foot entry from December 1 through June 31. Contact the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, Lakeside Ranger District, at 928-368-2100.
(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.
Depending on the nesting location, a portion of the lake may be closed from Dec. 1 to June 30. Contact AZGFD at 623-236-7506.
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.
The portion of land to the north or south of Luna Lake may be closed, depending on nesting location, to vehicle and foot traffic from Jan. 1 to June 15. Contact the Apache National Forest, Alpine Ranger District, at 928-339-5000.
A portion of the trail on 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 January 1 through July 31. Contact the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, Lakeside Ranger District, at 928-368-2100.
Woods Canyon Lake
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. If the eagles are persistently watching you, observation at a greater distance is advised.
- 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 conserve and protect bald eagles and conservation 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.
AZGFD’s bald eagle management efforts are supported by the Heritage Fund, an initiative passed more than 30 years ago to provide for wildlife education and conservation through Arizona lottery ticket sales.
AZGFD in the News: Meet the crew who works and lives at Page Springs Fish Hatchery in Yavapai County
Kudos to Fox 10 Phoenix and reporter Anita Roman for a recent news story about how a handful of Arizona Game and Fish Department employees actually live where they work — at Page Springs Fish Hatchery. They do it because raising hundreds of thousands of rainbow trout for stocking in Arizona’s lakes and streams each year is an around-the-clock job. Read the article
Hello, 2022! As we reflect on the changes we want — or need — to make in the new year, how about adding an outdoors resolution to the list?
The Arizona Game and Fish Department offers some simple resolutions, any one of which should be easy for an outdoors enthusiast to stick to:
- Fish local. Make it a point to wet a line this year at one (or more) of 40-plus waters in the Community Fishing Program that are seasonally stocked with channel catfish, bluegill and rainbow trout. This is a great way to introduce a youngster to a fun, lifelong sport. Your reward? Hearing that youngster squeal with delight while pulling in his or her first fish. Buy a license online today (youth under age 10 do not need to purchase a license).
- Support wildlife. Wildlife lovers can put their money where their heart is by signing up for a Conservation Membership Package Your annual dues provide much-needed funding to sustain important wildlife and habitat conservation projects.
- Take a youngster outdoors. Look for animal tracks together and identify the critter that made them. Armed with only a bird identification guide, embark on a “hunting” expedition and see how many species you can find. A day in the field will create memories that last a lifetime — for both of you.
- Pick it up. Vow to clean up not only after yourself, but those who aren’t as considerate. Take an extra trash bag along on your next outing, and spend a few minutes picking up those empty cans, cigarette butts or campsite trash. After all, respected access is open access.
- Be a wildlife viewer. Arizona provides some of the best wildlife-viewing opportunities in the nation, with more than 800 species of wildlife. It’s a fun, inexpensive activity the entire family can enjoy.
- Invest in good optics. Most hunters know that success in the field begins with a quality pair of binoculars or spotting scope. Don’t skimp. Better to buy the best you can afford that fits your needs than settle for a middle-of-the-road piece of equipment and be forced to upgrade later.
- Be a conservationist. It’s difficult to imagine what our wildlife populations might be like today without the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation. View the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies presentation, produced by Arizona Game and Fish.
- Get hunting. Don’t let the odds of being selected in the random draw keep you from applying for what could be the hunt of a lifetime. If you’ve always dreamed of hunting bison, pronghorn or bull elk, then get in the game and fill out an application. Also, don’t overlook small game or other species that can be hunted year-round. Buy a license online today.
Enter AZGFD’s portal. The portal lets you create a secure account where you can view and manage your licenses, draw results, bonus points and memberships in your own personal “My AZGFD Dashboard” section. Just click on the “My Account” button in the upper right-hand corner of the www.azgfd.gov home page, then select the “Register” option.
The Arlington Wildlife Area is located along the west bank of the Gila River, about 3.5-miles south of Arlington and 15 miles southwest of Buckeye.
The objectives for the 1,500-acre wildlife area are to maintain habitat for waterfowl, doves, the endangered Yuma clapper rail and other wildlife, and to provide wildlife viewing and other compatible, wildlife-oriented recreational opportunities.
The wildlife area has two ponds totaling about 10 acres, an extensive stand of salt cedar, and about four miles of river channel, including running water, cattails and other emergent vegetation, sand and gravel bars, and riparian trees such as cottonwood, willow and salt cedar.
The open-water ponds attract several species of waterfowl and shorebirds. Yuma clapper rails nest on site. The salt cedar bosque provides nesting habitat for red-winged blackbirds, doves and other riparian species. The bosque also provides cover for various mammals, reptiles and amphibians. The area is used by quail, egrets, herons, geese, coyotes, foxes, bobcats, skunks and raccoons.
The Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) has partnered with the Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center (SWCC) to host virtual wildlife lectures. In addition to partnering with SWCC, the department’s Wildlife Viewing Program will conduct its own critter-based lectures twice each month.
- Water Birds of Arizona — 6:30-8 p.m. Jan. 20 (SWCC). Description: Just add water, and the birds are sure to follow. Arizona, believe it or not, is home to several species of water birds. The best-known place might be Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area near Willcox, where more than 20,000 sandhill cranes come to spend the winter. Register here
- Wolves and Coyotes — 6:30-8 p.m. Feb. 3 (AZGFD). Description: Learn about the highly adaptable coyote, an extraordinarily intelligent and opportunistic species. That will be followed by a deeper look into the history of Arizona’s wolves. Find out what caused them to become extinct and how AZGFD, along with other federal and state agencies, have reintroduced the Mexican gray wolf back into our ecosystem. Register here
- Desert Squirrels and Chipmunks — 6:30-8 p.m. Feb. 10 (SWCC). Description: Learn about the natural history, distribution and adaptation of these small, fascinating rodents, which are known for their charismatic acrobatics. From rare and endangered to more common and well-loved, these critters never fail to capture attention. Register here
- Peregrine Falcons — 6:30-8 p.m., March 10 (AZGFD). Description: A peregrine falcon makes a cheetah look slow. This bird is the world’s fastest vertebrate, as well as a highly skilled predator. Listed as an endangered species only a few decades ago, the peregrine falcon has made an incredible recovery and since has been removed from that list. Register here
Meet “Elvis,” a striped skunk and animal ambassador at the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Wildlife Center. The striped skunk is one of four species of skunks that call Arizona home.