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
- This Wild Life: Tips for Watching Wildlife
- AZGFD Biologists at Work: Hundreds of Invasive Applesnails Removed from Lower Salt River
- AZGFD In the News
- Wild Arizona: Jaguar Conservation Continues at AZGFD Despite Tragic News
- Upcoming Events
- Citizen Science Opportunity: Bat and Hummingbird Study
- Video of the Month: Behind the Scenes with Wildlife Artist Trevor Swanson
Where to Look
Think like wildlife — Learning a little about what wildlife needs to survive gives clues to where you can find them. Different species have different habitat requirements for water, food, shelter and adequate space.
Look to the edge — Watch the edges of the desert, forest or stream. Most wildlife species spend their time along habitat edges. The border between two habitats is a prime viewing spot.
How to Look
The key to both finding and watching wildlife is “quiet, but active viewing.” Use the following techniques:
- Relax and make yourself small and unassuming.
- Move slowly in a consistent fashion and make frequent stops.
- Don’t stare! Most animals see this as a threat.
- Wear muted colors and fabrics that don’t “rustle” when you move.
- Use the lay of the land: Hills, drainages and gullies provide cover, while skylines leave you easily spotted.
- Use light to your advantage: Stand or sit with the sun behind you to stay in the shadows.
- Talk softly only if you must.
Look in different ways
- Scan the landscape with “soft eyes” to see the landscape versus focusing on details.
- Look at a distance, then in the foreground and back.
- Use peripheral vision to pick up movement.
Use binoculars and other optics
- Magnify and focus your vision. Optics allow you to watch from a distance with less risk to humans or animals. Even if you don’t see wildlife, use your optics to scan suitable habitat and you may catch a glimpse of an animal.
The Arizona Game and Fish Department kicked off its eighth annual battle against the spread of invasive applesnails along the Lower Salt River this summer. On June 22, AZGFD employees— along with the help of the Tonto National Forest, the SeaLife Aquarium, and volunteers from the general public — hopped aboard their kayaks to take the fight to the snails. The group successfully identified 3,428 egg masses in a combined 833 minutes of searching and removed them along with an astonishing 717 applesnails. Applesnails have the potential to impact the fish community in the Lower Salt River by outcompeting our resident snails (like pond snails and ramshorn snails). Read more
Wildlife Managers Help Elk Entangled in Rope
When AZGFD’s wildlife managers went to help an elk that had become entangled in rope, the Payson Roundup covered the process. Within an hour of a report being made to the Region VI office that a large bull elk had rope wrapped tightly around its antlers, with more rope dragging behind the animal, two of our wildlife managers were on the scene to assess the situation. The article details the steps taken by the wildlife managers to help the bull elk and the happy outcome for all. “The quick response time, courtesy afforded by the neighbors, skilled accuracy and knowledge of the tranquilizing process and recovery drugs all contributed to an extremely successful day for the Payson neighborhood, the Arizona Game and Fish Department and especially ‘Big Boy’ who in his own way, seemed very grateful.” Read the article
Game and Fish Delivers on Wild Adventures
Nancy Wiechec of the Arizona Daily Sun attended one of AZGFD’s recent Watchable Wildlife events and wrote a great summary about the outing. The event started early on a Sunday at Canyon Lake with aspiring wildlife photographers boarding boats and setting off in search of desert bighorn sheep. “Long lenses and binoculars are at the ready, and eyes are peeled for what [AZGFD biologist Randy] Babb calls ‘charismatic megafauna,’” wrote Wiechec. More than a dozen bighorn sheep were spotted during the five-hour tour, while attendees’ shutters clicked away capturing the moment and Arizona’s wildlife. Read the article
A photograph analyzed by the Arizona Game and Fish Department confirmed that the last jaguar to venture into Arizona was killed recently in Mexico. A photo of a jaguar pelt, sent by the Northern Jaguar Project, was independently analyzed by six AZGFD biologists to see if the pelt’s spot patterns match photographs of a cat last seen in Arizona in May 2017. All six biologists concluded it was the same cat. “We are saddened to report that this was the so-called ‘Huachuca cat’ that was seen in Arizona in late 2016 and early 2017,” said Jim deVos, AZGFD assistant director of the Wildlife Management Division. Read more
High Country Hummingbird Festival — July 28 at Sipe White Mountain Wildlife Area in Eager
AZGFD is again offering a unique opportunity for people to learn about Arizona’s colorful forest hummingbirds at the 15th annual High Country Hummers Festival. Sheri Williamson, one of the nation’s foremost experts on hummingbirds, will lead a capture and bird-banding event with the invaluable assistance of a dedicated group of volunteers. The event is free and open to the public. Participants will be able to observe researchers up close as they handle, measure and band these flying jewels. Read more
Night Hike — Aug. 17 at Ben Avery Shooting Range in Phoenix
Join our biologists for a nighttime walk of discovery as we explore the hidden lives of nocturnal animals. The Ben Avery Shooting Facility is home to a variety of wildlife including coyotes, bobcats, mule deer, owls, mice, snakes, scorpions and an abundance of other animals. While afield, we will black-light for scorpions and search for other wildlife such as snakes and mice that are active at night during the warm months. Register online
Bat Netting along the Verde River — Sept. 7 at Needle Rock Recreation Area
Arizona is home to 28 species of bats, many of which live and forage right in our own backyards. This is an exciting opportunity to meet these misunderstood and fascinating creatures in person. Register online
Volunteers are needed for a hummingbird feeder monitoring study. Participation by people living in or near Marana town limits is especially encouraged to determine the presence of lesser long-nosed bats. By gathering data on where bats are feeding, when they arrive and leave the Tucson Basin, and tracking a few bats with radio transmitters, we can gain a better understanding of their foraging habitat, how they travel from their roosts to foraging sites, and the locations of their roosts. This will allow us to plan more effective conservation strategies and minimize any impacts we might be having on this endangered species. Read more
Wildlife Artist Trevor Swanson finds inspiration from spending time outdoors. We joined him as he works to paint a bobcat and desert scenery and find the perfect color for the lichen. “I imagine myself to have a creative battery that to go out here and be in the wild, getting the fresh air, that’s where I go to recharge that battery,” Swanson said.