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: 200 captive desert tortoises need forever homes
- Partner Projects: Three orphaned black bears rehabilitated and released into the wild
- Wild Arizona: Now accepting entries for Arizona Wildlife Calendar Photo Contest
- Walk on the Wild Side: Fool Hollow Lake Recreation Area
- Upcoming Events: Virtual speaker wildlife series
- Video of the Month: Send Water
Wild Arizona: 200 captive desert tortoises need forever homes
For some, a dog or cat will do just fine. But for others who are considering adopting something truly unique to Arizona, say hello to your next family member:
A Sonoran desert tortoise.
“Many people don’t even consider opening up their homes to desert tortoises, but they make fantastic and personable pets,” said Tegan Wolf, desert tortoise adoption program coordinator for the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD).
“It’s rewarding to hear stories from those who have adopted a captive tortoise and made them part of the family, because they’re a unique alternative to traditional family pets. They offer many of the same life lessons to children, and they can provide just as much companionship and personality as a dog or cat.”
Due primarily to illegal breeding, AZGFD has 200 tortoises of various ages and sizes available for adoption. Captive tortoises grow up to about 14 inches long and can live 80-100 years. They cannot be released back into the wild because they could spread diseases that harm wild populations.
Arizona residents interested in providing an adoptive home should review the Tortoise Adoption Program page on the department’s website. Instructions on how to properly care for a desert tortoise and how to build an enclosure/burrow are included.
Once the burrow is completed, potential adopters can submit an online application at www.azgfd.gov/tortoise. All applications will be reviewed, and applicants will be contacted by the department. Adopters must have a securely enclosed yard or construct a separate enclosure/burrow to prevent the tortoise from potential hazards, such as a fire pit, unfenced pool or dogs.
The enclosed area must include an appropriate shelter for the tortoise to escape Arizona’s extreme summer heat and a place to brumate — a seasonal period of inactivity similar to hibernation — during winter.
Watch a video on how to build a tortoise shelter
AZGFD allows for one tortoise to be adopted per person, per household, but an additional tortoise of the same sex can be adopted if it is placed in a completely separate enclosure, as these reptiles can be territorial. Federal law prohibits desert tortoises from being transported across state lines.
While it is illegal to remove Sonoran desert tortoises from the wild, it’s also illegal to allow them to breed in captivity. AZGFD and its partners must spend valuable resources and time each year to find homes for hundreds of captive tortoises.
“One female tortoise living to 80 years old can produce more than 800 babies in her lifetime,” Wolf said. “This is why it is crucial that we work together to ensure that tortoises are not only placed in proper homes, but with responsible owners.”
For more information about AZGFD’s Tortoise Adoption Program, or to provide a donation to help the department cover costs for tortoise food, shelter and medical expenses, visit www.azgfd.gov/tortoise. Or listen to the “Wild About Arizona” episode on desert tortoise adoption, the official podcast of AZGFD.
If you suspect someone is illegally breeding Sonoran desert tortoises, contact the department’s Operation Game Thief hotline 24/7 at 800-352-0700. Those submitting a tip can remain anonymous.
Partner Projects: Three orphaned black bears rehabilitated and released into the wild
Three juvenile male black bears were recently released back into the wild by Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) biologists after months of rehabilitation at the Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center in Scottsdale.
Two of the bears were orphaned early last year when the sow was fatally injured by a vehicle collision, and they were taken to Southwest Wildlife by the Navajo Nation. The third was found orphaned in southeastern Arizona in October and was captured by an AZGFD wildlife manager. After efforts to locate the sow proved unsuccessful, it was transported to Southwest Wildlife.
“Our agency has a history of successful partnership efforts with Southwest Wildlife,” said Dustin Darveau, terrestrial wildlife specialist for AZGFD’s Mesa region. “The center has the knowledge and experience working with young bears, along with the facility to handle them in a secluded area with limited human interaction.”
Once these juvenile black bears showed proficiency in foraging and natural behavior methods during the rehabilitation process, they were considered ready for release back into the wild. The bears were tranquilized, given a final health assessment, and fitted with identification ear tags prior to being loaded into transport carriers and taken to an approved release site in suitable black bear habitat.
Two of the young bears were recipients of a prototype GPS ear tag that has solar capabilities to continually charge the very small batteries necessary for communicating with satellites. AZGFD hopes to receive location data to document the bears’ survivability, dispersal and habitat use, which provides valuable information for future bear management in Arizona.
Wild Arizona: Now accepting entries for Arizona Wildlife Calendar Photo Contest
Do you want to see your photo on the cover of Arizona Wildlife Views’ annual calendar? Do you have a knack for capturing great photos of wildlife? Then you won’t want to miss the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s 16th annual wildlife photo contest.
One best in show and 11 first-place winners will be showcased in the 2023 calendar, which is published in the November-December 2022 issue of Arizona Wildlife Views. The best-in-show photo is published on the calendar’s cover, and as one of the photos representing a month.
We’re partnering with Arizona Highways to provide an easier way to submit photographs. Use the online form at www.arizonahighways.com/photography/photo-contest to submit your Arizona wildlife photos. Each contestant may submit a maximum of three photographs, which must be uploaded as separate submissions through the form.
This contest is for images of Arizona wildlife. All photos must depict wildlife native to and found in Arizona, and all photos must have been taken in Arizona settings.
Please review the Official Rules prior to entering. Entrants are responsible for complying with the Official Rules or may result in disqualification.
The deadline is 5 p.m. (Arizona time) on Aug. 12, 2022.
Winners will be announced online at www.azgfd.gov/photocontest and www.arizonahighways.com after Nov. 1, 2022.
Get your stickers
Speaking of Arizona Wildlife Views, the 65th anniversary of the award-winning magazine takes a special form in the July/August issue.
Art Director Pierre Balla designed a sheet of stickers that is included with every copy of the July/August issue (found in the middle of the magazine), while supplies last. All subscriptions ordered via the online store through July 31 will receive the July/August issue.
We can’t wait to see the stickers “out in the wild” on your water bottles, notebooks, tackle boxes and gear cases.
Walk on the Wild Side: Fool Hollow Lake Recreation Area
Ahh . . . Can you feel that cool, refreshing breeze?
There might not be a better place to be right now than Fool Hollow Lake Recreation Area, which offers more than 800 acres of cool, high-country opportunities for the entire family.
The area is managed through a partnership between Arizona State Parks, the Arizona Game and Fish Department, U.S. Forest Service, and City of Show Low. Located north of Show Low in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, Fool Hollow offers wildlife viewing, hiking, picnicking, camping, fishing and more.
Wildlife that call Fool Hollow home include squirrels, raccoons, beavers, elk and deer, as well as birds like goldfinches, bluebirds, Steller’s jays and various waterfowl (including geese, herons, egrets and ibis on a seasonal basis).
For hikers, there’s a 1.5-mile trail that winds along the lake, with access to the 103 miles of the White Mountain Trail System within 15 miles of the recreation area.
Directions: From Show Low, travel west on West Deuce of Clubs and turn right onto East Linden Road. Travel for about 2.5 miles and turn right. Take the first right (about .7 miles), and the destination will be on the left.
Upcoming Events: Virtual speaker wildlife series
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.
Misunderstood Creatures of the Night — Bats! — 6:30-8 p.m. July 14 (AZGFD). Description: Bats are misunderstood creatures. These flying mammals are an amazing species that fill an important niche. Learn about the different species that inhabit Arizona, their natural history, and what makes these animals so fascinating. Register
Incredible Crawling Critters — Scorpions! — 6:30-8 p.m. Aug. 11 (AZGFD). Description: One of the longest-lived groups of critters on the planet, scorpions have largely remained unchanged for millions of years. In fact, those found in your backyard are quite similar to their ancestors of the Paleozoic Era. Learn about the natural history of scorpions, and the important role they play in the ecosystems in which they live. Register
Elk Workshop (two sessions) — 9 a.m.-noon, 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Aug. 20 (AZGFD). Description: Want to learn about elk — and see hundreds of them in one place at one time? Then either of these workshops is for you. With support from Mormon Lake Lodge, this event includes a one-hour presentation and a field trip to watch elk on Mormon Lake. Walking will be minimal during the field trip. The viewing location will be determined that day, based on where the elk have been observed. Participants will need to provide their own transportation from the presentation to the nearby viewing location. Spotting scopes will be provided, and participants are encouraged to bring binoculars, water, snacks, and wear appropriate clothing and footwear for standing. Cost is $20 per participant (children 12 and younger are free and do not need to be registered). Note: Cash will not be accepted at the door. For assistance with registration, contact Cheyenne Dubiach at email@example.com or 602-509-8122.
To register for the 9 a.m.-noon session: https://www.register-ed.com/events/view/183344
To register for the 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. session: https://www.register-ed.com/events/view/183345
Video of the Month: Send Water
Help deliver life-saving water to Arizona’s wildlife suffering from the extreme heat and drought. Text SENDWATER to 41444. Your donation will help the Arizona Game and Fish Department to haul water to remote parts of the state where there’s little or no water for thirsty animals.