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 Biologists at Work: Thirsty wildlife to receive nearly 3 million gallons of water
- Wild Arizona: Be bear aware
- Wild Arizona: AZGFD’s 15th annual wildlife photo contest ends Aug. 13
- Walk on the Wild Side: Sipe White Mountain Wildlife Area
- Upcoming Events: Virtual speaker wildlife series
- Video of the Month: Bobcats at play
Water is the essence of life, and it’s just as precious for Arizona’s wildlife.
As drought conditions persist across the Southwest, the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) is preparing for another record-setting year of delivering lifesaving water to thirsty Arizona wildlife.
AZGFD trucked and airlifted an unprecedented 2.4 million gallons of life-sustaining water to catchments throughout the state in 2020. With little relief in sight, AZGFD anticipates hauling close to 3 million gallons of water in 2021.
“We usually get a break from hauling water in August after monsoon rains refill much of our water catchments,” said Joseph Currie, habitat planning program manager, who oversees AZGFD’s water-catchment efforts. “However, due to this extreme drought, we haven’t stopped hauling water from 2020. We anticipate having to haul more water this year than we ever have before.”
Trail cameras document the results of this critical work, with images of elk, deer, bighorn sheep and other species leaning over for a refreshing drink at one of 3,000 catchments maintained by AZGFD.
“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,” Currie said.
To help defray the rising costs of providing water for Arizona’s wildlife, the public is encouraged to support the department’s “Send Water” donation campaign by simply texting “SENDWATER” to 41444 from any smartphone. All funds that are raised ensure that AZGFD can deliver water to remote areas of the state, as well as help to mitigate population fluctuations caused by severe drought conditions.
“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 several wildlife organizations, the department bears much of the costs of hauling water. It also maintains about 1,000 of its own catchments statewide, some of which must be filled with water flown in by helicopter. In addition, AZGFD maintains 1,000 Bureau of Land Management and 1,000 U.S. Forest Service catchments.
This is the 75th year that AZGFD has been hauling water to Arizona wildlife, with the first “Arizona Guzzler” assembled in 1946.
For more information about how AZGFD conserves and protects 800-plus wildlife species that call Arizona home, or to make a donation to the Send Water campaign, visit AZwildlifehero.com
Arizona’s hot, dry conditions have reduced the amount of natural vegetation available to bears, increasing the chances of them wandering into populated areas in search of food. While bears are typically shy and tend to avoid humans, their excellent sense of smell can be problematic for both the animals and humans.
Wildlife officials advise those living or visiting bear country to avoid feeding wildlife and to not leave trash, food or other attractants such as pet food or bird seed accessible, because a fed bear is a dead bear.
“If a bear becomes habituated to getting food from trash cans and other human sources, it’s only a matter of time before it loses its fear of humans and begins to actively search out human food sources,” said Larry Phoenix, Flagstaff regional supervisor. “At that point, the bear becomes a threat to public safety.”
Here are some tips to avoid attracting bears:
Keep them away from your home
- Keep all trash inside a secured area until collection day. If that’s not possible, keep food waste in a bag in the freezer and place those in the trash as close to collection time as possible.
- Take bird feeders down at night.
- Keep pet and livestock food inside or remove all uneaten food.
- Keep your food and attractants secured and inaccessible to bears. Do not keep food in your tent.
- Don’t burn left-over food or trash on the grill.
- Set up your campsite away from places where bears might forage for food, such as creeks, rivers and other bodies of water.
- Don’t wear scented lotions, deodorant or perfumes.
- Make noise or hike in groups.
- If you take your pet hiking with you, keep it on a leash at all times.
In case of a bear encounter
- Do NOT run.
- Back away slowly while keeping your eyes on the bear.
- Make yourself look bigger than you are by flaunting your arms or pulling your shirt/jacket up higher than your head.
- Throw items and yell at the bear.
- If attacked, fight back.
Bear sightings in areas where there is human activity should be reported to AZGFD’s dispatch center at 623-236-7201. For questions or to obtain a brochure on living with bears, visit www.azgfd.com/Wildlife/LivingWith
Do you want to see your photo on the cover of Arizona Wildlife Views magazine? Do you have a knack for capturing great photos of wildlife?
Then you better hurry, because the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s 15th annual wildlife photo contest ends at 5 p.m. (Arizona time) Aug. 13, 2021.
One best in show and 11 first-place winners will be showcased in the 2022 calendar, which is published in the November-December issue of Arizona Wildlife Views. The best-in-show photo is published on the cover of the issue 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/wildlife-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.
Please review the Official Rules prior to entering. Entrants are responsible for complying with the Official Rules or may result in disqualification.
The Sipe White Mountain Wildlife Area near Eagar provides opportunities for wildlife viewing and hiking, with four trails that wind through a variety of habitats.
Several wildlife-viewing points are located on the trails, including one with a spotting scope on the High Point Trail overlook. Habitats include several reservoirs, a stream, wetlands, irrigated meadows and pastures, upland grasslands and piñon-juniper woodlands. There also is a visitor center and a day-use picnic area.
The grasslands feature abundant elk and pronghorn, as well as mule deer and coyote. Small mammals include porcupine, badger, Abert’s squirrel, golden-mantled and thirteen-lined ground squirrel, long-tailed weasel, cliff chipmunk, and striped skunk.
The best bird-watching location is along Rudd Creek, and in the orchard and tall trees around the visitor center. Songbirds include mountain and western bluebirds, northern flicker, Virginia’s warbler, white-breasted nuthatch and American robin. Merriam’s turkey, band-tailed pigeon and more can be found here.l
The area is open from sunrise to sunset. The visitor center is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. through early October. Parking is available only at designated sites. Reminders: The area is closed to camping, there are no open fires, and the cutting or gathering of firewood is prohibited.
Directions: From the town of Eagar, take U.S. Highway 180/191 southeast toward Alpine for about two miles. Look for turnoff signs immediately at the top of the first mesa at Milepost 404.7 (Forest Road 57). Drive about five miles on Forest Road 57, which is a dirt road suitable for passenger cars, to the area property.
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.
- Bats of AZ — 6:30-8 p.m. Aug. 19 (SWCC). Description: Bats are completely misunderstood creatures. These flying mammals are an incredible species that fill a special niche. Learn about the different species in Arizona and their natural history. Register here
- Bat Netting — 6-10 p.m. Aug. 27 (SWCC). Description: Don’t pass up an unforgettable evening of netting and identifying local bat species. This in-person event includes a guided tour of Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center’s sanctuary, a bat presentation, and an opportunity to watch AZGFD biologists measure and release netted bats. Light refreshments will be provided. Cost: $50. Register here
- Tips for Wildlife Viewing — 6:30-7:15 p.m. Sept. 2 (AZGFD). Description: Knowing more about where to look, how to look, and what to look for can greatly enhance a wildlife-viewing experience. Learn more about the when, where and how to view wildlife safely, ethically and successfully from AZGFD biologists. Register here
Check out this inquisitive family of bobcats goofing around on top of a water catchment.
Watch the video