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
- AZGFD in the News: Caught on video: Bear gets stuck on utility pole in Cochise County
- Wild Arizona: Help stop the spread of harmful invasive species
- Walk on the Wild Side: Wenima Wildlife Area
- Upcoming Events: Virtual speaker wildlife series
- Fast Facts: Humpback chub
- Video of the Month: Cameras for Counting Wolves
Kudos to Fox 10 Phoenix and reporter Matt Galka for a recent news story about how a couple of utility workers came to the rescue of a young bear that got stuck on top of a utility pole in Willcox, Ariz.
Did you know that invasive quagga mussels cause millions of dollars in damage to boat motors, docks and water intake systems?
Or that unwanted turtles, tortoises, and other pets illegally released into the wild can hurt our native species by introducing disease or outcompeting them for habitat and food?
The Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) recently participated in National Invasive Species Awareness Week. The nationwide event aims to educate the public about the harmful impact of invasive animals, plants and other organisms.
“Invasive species don’t respect boundaries, which makes them a continent-wide problem that starts at home,” said Sabra Tonn, heritage data management system supervisor. “The good news is that we can all play a part in helping stop their spread.”
AZGFD and the North American Invasive Species Management Association encourage people to help in the following ways:
- Learn about invasive species, especially those found in this region. AZGFD’s website and the National Invasive Species Information Center are both resources.
- Boaters and anglers should remember to clean, drain and dry your boat (and leave the plug out) before moving to another water. This helps stop the spread of quagga mussels and other aquatic invasive species. It’s not just a good practice, it’s the law. www.azgfd.gov/AIS
- Anglers should clean and dry their gear. Don’t forget to clean those wading boots. Never transport live fish from one body of water to another. StopAIS.org
- Don’t release pets into the wild. It is illegal for pet owners who no longer wish to care for their exotic pets to release them into the wild, or dump their aquariums into bodies of water, potentially harming local ecosystems. DontLetItLoose.com
- Land recreationists should clean their hiking boots, off-road vehicles and other gear to stop invasive species from hitching a ride to a new location. PlayCleanGo.org
- Campers should not move firewood. Instead, buy it where you’ll burn it, or gather on site when permitted. DontMoveFirewood.org
- Slow the spread of invasive pests by taking extra care when traveling, gardening or moving recently killed plant material. Buy plants from a reputable source, and avoid using invasive plant species. HungryPests.com
- Buy forage, hay, mulch and soil that are certified as “weed free.”
Be a Citizen Scientist and report observations of invasive species at imapinvasives.natureserve.org.
The Wenima Wildlife Area, located about three miles northwest of the towns of Springerville and Eagar in the White Mountains, is an excellent place to view a wide variety of birds.
While birding can be rewarding throughout the year, the best times are spring, summer and fall. Some of the species of waterfowl, birds and raptors that can be seen here include golden eagle, American kestrel, belted kingfisher, blue grosbeak, indigo bunting, black-crowned night-heron, green-backed heron, yellow-breasted chat, black phoebe, gray catbird, and a variety of migrating warblers and songbirds. Check the bluff edges for raptors. Both mountain and western bluebird are found in the junipers in winter.
The Arizona Game and Fish Department acquired part of the property in 1993 (and the remainder in 1995) and has steadily enhanced habitat values and the attractions for visitors. Two hiking trails provide easy access to both streamside and upland areas where visitors can view beaver, mule deer, pronghorn, ringtail cat, ground squirrels, chipmunks, rabbits and lizards. Powerhouse Trail is .7 mile in length, proceeding south from the east side of the bridge over the Little Colorado River, while Beavertail Trail runs 1.5 miles north, starting from the west side of the bridge.
To get to the Wenima Wildlife Area, take U.S. Highway 60 a couple miles west going out of Springerville. At the junction of U.S. Highways 60 and 180/191, go a quarter-mile north on Highway 180/191 and look to turn right onto a graded dirt road going northeast. After 1.5 miles, the graded road drops a short distance into the Little Colorado River canyon corridor. Park at the designated parking area next to the restroom and information kiosks. The wildlife area is open from sunrise to sunset.
The Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) has partnered with the Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center (SWCC) and Boyce Thompson Arboretum (BTA) to host virtual wildlife lectures. In addition to partnering with SWCC and BTA, the department’s Wildlife Viewing Program will conduct its own critter-based lectures twice each month.
- Venomous & Poisonous Critters of AZ — 6:30-8 p.m. June 17 (SWCC). Description: They may crawl, they may slither, and they may even bite on occasion — but they sure are fascinating. Learn about these venomous and poisonous creatures that call Arizona home. Register here
- Wildcats of Arizona — 6:30-8 p.m. July 1 (AZGFD). Description: Arizona is home to four species of wildcats. Feared, vilified and worshipped, wildcats have had a varied relationship with humans since the beginning of time. From jaguars to bobcats, learn about these misunderstood predators from their fossil origins and ancestors to their current ecology. Register here
- Scorpions — 6:30-8 p.m. July 15 (SWCC). Description: One of the longest-lived groups of critters on the planet, scorpions have largely remained unchanged for millions of years. Learn about their natural history and the important role they play in the ecosystems in which they live. Register here
- The species gets its name from the fleshy hump behind its head.
- The humpback chub was classified as endangered in 1967.
- There are five populations of humpback chub, with the lower basin population occurring in the Colorado River and its tributaries below Glen Canyon Dam.
- The humpback chub, which was first described as a unique species from collections in the Grand Canyon in the 1940s, was not discovered in the upper Colorado River basin until the 1970s.
- The humpback chub prefers canyon-bound reaches of rivers where it can complete its life cycle in swift, turbulent currents.
The Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Terrestrial Research Branch is studying the viability of using trail cameras to get an accurate estimate of Arizona’s Mexican wolf population.
In late 2019, a team of researchers placed 124 trail cameras spaced 3.5 miles apart in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest. While researchers were targeting one specific species, not all of the images were of Mexican wolves. Check out some of the other fascinating critters that were among the mind-blowing 7.5 million images captured over an eight-month study period.