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
- Partner Projects: Watch California condors take their first flights in wild
- AZGFD in the News: Anubis, a Mexican gray wolf found outside his territory, is relocated amid outcry from scientists, advocates
- Wild Arizona: AZGFD to host virtual public meetings to discuss plans for the future of the state’s wildlife
- Walk on the Wild Side: Sunflower Flat Wildlife Area
- Upcoming Events: Virtual speaker wildlife series
- Video of the Month: “Fork” Returns to Colorado
The public is invited to celebrate National Public Lands Day at 1 p.m. Sept. 25 by observing the release of captive-bred California condors into the wild at Vermilion Cliffs National Monument in northern Arizona.
The event also will be live-streamed via The Peregrine Fund’s YouTube channel. Viewers can set a reminder to join the release, which is scheduled for 1 p.m. but depends on when the birds choose to leave their release pen. There will be a picture-in-picture set up with a camera trained on the release pen; videos and interviews with condor biologists and conservationists who work with these massive birds will be included. Viewers also will be able to have their questions answered live by the team.
The Arizona-Utah California Condor conservation effort is a partnership of federal, state and private entities, including The Peregrine Fund, Bureau of Land Management in Utah, Bureau of Land Management’s Vermilion Cliffs National Monument, Arizona Game and Fish Department, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Grand Canyon and Zion national parks, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, and Kaibab and Dixie national forests, among other supporting groups and individuals.
This is the 26th year that the partnership has marked National Public Lands Day with a public release event at Vermilion Cliffs. In 2020, due to COVID-19 restrictions, the team took the celebration online, which attracted more than 10,000 viewers.
Those who attend this year’s event will have the opportunity to talk to condor biologists, learn about the birds and their habitat, and enjoy a festival-like atmosphere while waiting for the birds to take that first leap off the cliff. Details about attending the event in person are below.
- Bring: Spotting scope or binoculars, sunscreen, water, snack, chair and layered clothing.
- Details: Informational kiosk, shade structure and restroom at the site. The event will follow the CDC guidelines in place for outdoor gatherings at the time of the event.
- Directions: Take Highway 89A from Kanab or Page to the Vermilion Cliffs (from Flagstaff, take Highway 89 to Highway 89A). Turn north onto BLM Road 1065 (a dirt road next to the small house just east of the Kaibab Plateau) and continue almost three miles.
The historical California Condor population declined to just 22 individuals in the 1980s when the greater California Condor Recovery Program was initiated to save the species from extinction. As of July 2021, there were more than 100 condors in the rugged, canyon country of northern Arizona and southern Utah. The total world population of endangered California condors numbers more than 500 individuals, with more than half of them winging across the skies of Arizona, Utah, California and Mexico.
AZGFD in the News: Anubis, a Mexican gray wolf found outside his territory, is relocated amid outcry from scientists, advocates
Kudos to The Arizona Republic and reporter Lindsey Botts for a recent article about a Mexican gray wolf that was captured and relocated by the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) after it was found outside of the primary management zone for the endangered species. AZGFD officials believe the relocation will give the wolf the best chance to find a mate, form a pack and contribute to the recovery effort.
Wild Arizona: AZGFD to host virtual public meetings to discuss plans for the future of the state’s wildlife
The Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) is updating its 10-year conservation plan — the Arizona Wildlife Conservation Strategy (AWCS) — and is sharing the core elements of the new strategy based on public input to date.
The department will host three virtual meetings in September to discuss enhancements to the AWCS and obtain feedback from the public. The meeting times and dates are:
- 7-8 p.m. Sept. 20.
- Noon-1 p.m. Sept. 21.
- 7-8 p.m. Sept. 22.
To attend a meeting from your computer, tablet or smartphone, visit https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/938773205. Those who haven’t previously used the GoToMeeting app can download it from that link. Alternatively, people can dial in by phone at 1-669-224-3412, access code 938-773-205.
Each meeting will include information on proposed changes to the Strategy, including designation of Conservation Opportunity Areas, a Conservation Analysis Tool and Data Warehouse, and a new way for the public to engage with the Strategy online, followed by a Q&A session. The same content will be covered in all three meetings.
The AWCS encourages collaboration with partners to make focused strategic investments in the management, conservation, and mitigation of areas that will have the greatest benefit for wildlife using the best available science.
Because everyone in Arizona is integral to the success of the AWCS revision, understanding mutual interests and needs, sharing data and information (where feasible), and developing collaborative implementation strategies will maximize the plan’s effectiveness and the collective efforts to conserve Arizona’s fish and wildlife resources.
Developing the AWCS included a statewide survey, focus groups, and meetings with partner organizations. Following the public meetings, AZGFD will distribute another statewide survey for the public to share perspectives on the AWCS, which is slated to be completed in 2022.
For more information on the AWCS, including survey results, summaries of focus group discussions, and a link to the 2012-2022 Arizona State Wildlife Action Plan, visit https://www.azgfd.com/wildlife/actionplan/
Sunflower Flat Wildlife Area is one of the premier locations in northern Arizona for wildlife viewing opportunities.
Located about 15 miles southeast of Williams, in the Kaibab National Forest, this 160-acre wildlife area serves as a stopover for a number of different migratory bird species and waterfowl, and is a travel corridor for big game species such as elk, mule deer and pronghorn.
There are no designated roads into, or within, Sunflower Flat. Access to the property is on foot only. There is a 3.7-mile loop trail (not maintained) around the perimeter of the wildlife area.
Directions: From Williams, go southeast on Forest Road 141 about five miles to Forest Road 109. Go south about three miles to Forest Road 14. Go south and west one mile and look for an unmarked road on the left. Sunflower Flat is about a half-mile down this road.
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.
- Wildlife Viewing: Who is Viewing Whom? — 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
- Foxes of Arizona — 6:30-8 p.m. Sept. 23 (SWCC). Description: You’ve heard sayings like “a fox can be smarter than a wolf,” or someone is being “sly, like a fox.” Few creatures have such a storied and interesting history as does the fox. Learn about Arizona’s three resident species, focusing on their biology, behavior, and natural history. Register here
- Bats of Arizona — 6:30-8 p.m. Oct. 7 (AZGFD). 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
- Origins of the Sonoran Desert — 6:30-8 p.m. Oct. 14 (SWCC). Description: What is a desert? Arizona has one of the most diverse flora and faunal assemblages in the nation. Of the four deserts that cover large parts of Arizona, the Sonoran Desert has the greatest diversity. Learn more about this desert and the species that inhabit it. Register here
And don’t miss this virtual event from AZGFD’s Wildlife Education Program:
It’s “Owl” Good! — 4 p.m. Sept. 19. Meet Nancy Kreuder, wildlife education outreach coordinator, and one of AZGFD’s non-releasable ambassador owls. Learn fun facts about owls — and get to see one up close, virtually, during this 30-minute presentation. Register here
Check out this video about “Fork,” the globe-trotting, yellow-bellied marmot that took an extraordinary 600-mile journey from Crested Butte, Colo., to Glendale, Ariz. An ear tag led Arizona Game and Fish Department biologists to discover that this animal is part of a 60-year marmot study conducted by the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory. Fork was safely captured and transported back to Colorado, where she was reunited with her brother named — what else? — “Spoon.”