The Need for Wildlife Management
More than 800 species of wildlife are found in Arizona, making it one of the most biologically diverse states in the country. The Arizona Game and Fish Department’s mission is to conserve and protect all of these species, for today and for future generations. With fur, feathers, fins and everything in between, Arizona’s wildlife is diverse — and so, too, is the work of the Department’s biologists. In every corner of the state, Department staff can be found monitoring and restoring native populations, creating and maintaining viable habitats, and investigating and monitoring wildlife health issues.
Wildlife is affected by a variety of factors that may have negative impacts on their populations and therefore require active management actions to address these impacts. The Department’s wide range of innovative programs are up to the challenge of conserving and protecting Arizona’s diverse wildlife resources. The work of the Department has resulted in success stories for Arizona’s wildlife statewide for decades and continues to this day.
- Using science and partnering with other agencies, the Department developed overpasses and underpasses designed to allow wildlife to safely cross highways. These crossings help prevent a lack of habitat connectivity, wildlife-vehicle collisions, and interference with wildlife’s access to adequate water.
- As part of its vital on-the-ground conservation work, the Department carefully enhances habitats and repopulates native species while monitoring the results on larger ecosystems. There are many examples of such conservation work. Some species had dwindled or disappeared from the state entirely, but thanks to active management are around today including bald eagles, Sonoran pronghorn, Gila trout, Gould’s turkeys, black-footed ferrets, Mexican wolves, Chiricahua leopard frogs and black-tailed prairie dogs.
Using the best available science to manage wildlife populations for sustainability, the Department takes action to ensure that Arizona’s diverse ecosystems remain intact.
The North American Model of Wildlife Conservation
This on-the-ground wildlife conservation work is the true purpose of the Department and a cornerstone of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation. Developed, in large part, by the forward-thinking conservationists in the early 1900s, these wildlife heroes understood that without laws protecting wildlife and their habitats, there would be a devastating toll on animal populations. This model continues to be the world’s most successful guide, helping to sustain wildlife species and habitats through well-founded science and active management.
To ensure Arizona’s wildlife will be around for future generations to enjoy, the Department continues to follow the principles of this model by maintaining that wildlife is managed in trust for the people and science is the basis for wildlife management. This includes utilizing legal and regulated hunting and angling as a method for managing wildlife and providing valuable biological information related to species management. While only a small percentage of Arizona’s 800+ species can be legally hunted or fished, the Department recognizes sportsmen play a key role in maintaining the state’s diverse ecosystems.
Hunting and Angling in Arizona
Legal hunting and angling are valuable and science-based management tools and are highly regulated in Arizona to ensure population sustainability for all species.
- Bag and possession limits provide everyone with a chance at a quality fishing experience while protecting the fishery.
- In Arizona, a lottery-style process allocates the limited number of big game and other species hunt permit-tags to applicants. Permit-tags available per species are determined and adjusted annually to responsibly manage Arizona’s wildlife populations.
- The Arizona Game and Fish Commission determines the availability of these permit-tags based on agency guidelines and wildlife biologists’ data collection and recommendations.
- Hunt permit-tags are offered at levels that support species management objectives and area objectives following the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation principles that include scientific studies, surveys, and management goals for maintaining healthy, sustainable wildlife populations and habitats.
Predators and predation also play key roles within Arizona’s ecosystems, influencing not only populations of species that are preyed upon, but the larger ecosystem as a whole.
As it does with all species, the Department actively monitors and manages predator populations for sustainability using the best available science and taking the variability of ecological factors into account. One key predator management tool is the legal and highly regulated hunting of these species.
The Department manages predatory species based on the following principles:
- To provide adequate populations for ecological and recreational purposes
- To reduce conflicts with humans and pets
- To reduce adverse effects on other wildlife populations.
The Department’s mountain lion management is an example of this work in action. To learn more about mountain lion management, click here.
For Us. For Them. For Generations to Come.
For over a century, the Department has worked tirelessly using the best available science to ensure Arizona’s 800+ species of wildlife can thrive. From the soaring bald eagle to the tiny Kanab ambersnail, the Department continues to conserve and protect the state’s wildlife — for us, for them, and for generations to come.