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: AZGFD finds home for orphaned deer fawn
- Partner Projects: Public invited to release of endangered California condors Sept. 28
- Walk on the Wild Side: Sipe White Mountain Wildlife Area
- Citizen Science Opportunity: Volunteers can spotlight endangered black-footed ferrets
- Wild Arizona: As temperatures climb, AZGFD assists thirsty wildlife
- Video of the Month: Get to know hummingbirds
The Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) recently placed an orphaned white-tailed deer fawn with Bearizona Wildlife Park after its mother was struck and killed by a vehicle in the Safford area.
Since the accident, the impressionable, three-week-old fawn had become dependent on humans for survival and no longer could be released back into the wild. Fortunately, AZGFD was able to place the fawn at the 160-acre wildlife park in Williams.
“While this was a tragic accident, Game and Fish wildlife managers have noticed an uptick in calls from well-meaning citizens who have removed fawns from the wild,” said Kellie Tharp, the department’s education branch chief. “We understand the public’s desire to help animals such as fawns and other baby wildlife, but, in reality, wild animals are rarely abandoned or orphaned. The best thing you can do is to leave baby wildlife alone.”
The public should contact a licensed wildlife rehabilitator or their nearest AZGFD office if an animal is clearly sick, or injured with wounds or broken bones; is unresponsive or lethargic; has been attacked by a cat or dog; or there is strong evidence that the mother is dead.
Tharp said a person who takes a newborn or juvenile animal out of the wild is essentially removing them from their parents, permanently. Deer and elk often leave young by themselves for several hours while foraging for food, and when the fawn or calf is not found where they were left, the adult animals will frantically search in vain.
Some species of baby animals, such as fawns or calves, may even have to be euthanized because they cannot be released back into the wild due to disease concerns. In addition, zoos and other wildlife sanctuaries have limited space to accept these animals.
Each year, wildlife centers around the state are inundated with baby birds, rabbits and other wildlife that were unnecessarily taken from the wild. Typically, once the perceived predator (a person, or a dog or cat, for example) leaves the area, one or both of the parents will return and continue to care for the young.Those with questions involving a young animal should contact one of the wildlife rehabilitators listed on AZGFD’s website at www.azgfd.gov/urbanwildlife, or call their local Game and Fish office.
This has proven to be an exciting year for California condors in Arizona and Utah with the milestone hatching of the 1,000th condor at Zion National Park.
But the thrill is far from over. On Sept. 28, the public is invited to join the recovery effort by witnessing first-hand a spectacular release into the wild of several captive-bred condors. As many as four of the endangered birds are scheduled to be released by The Peregrine Fund at 11 a.m. from atop the ledges of Vermilion Cliffs National Monument.
The public is welcome to observe the release from a viewing area where spotting scopes provided by partners and Swarovski Optik will be set up. In addition, project personnel will be available to answer questions.
The release coincides with National Public Lands Day, the nation’s largest, hands-on volunteer effort to improve and enhance America’s public lands. National Public Lands Day involves the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and other federal agencies, along with state and local governments and private groups.
- Driving 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.
- Bring: Spotting scope or binoculars, sunscreen, water, snack, chair and layered clothing
- Details: Informational kiosk, shade structure, and restroom at the site.
The Arizona-Utah recovery effort is a cooperative undertaking by federal, state and private partners, including The Peregrine Fund, Arizona Game and Fish Department, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management’s Vermilion Cliffs National Monument, Grand Canyon and Zion national parks, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, and Kaibab and Dixie national forests among many other supporting groups and individuals.
For more information about California condors in Arizona: http://www.peregrinefund.org/condor
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 is seeking volunteers to assist with fall spotlighting efforts to help document the population of endangered black-footed ferrets in Aubrey Valley and on the Double O Ranch, both near Seligman.
As part of the recovery effort, the department has scheduled two five-night spotlighting events – Sept. 19-23 and Oct. 17-21. The spotlighting method involves using high-powered lights to locate and identify black-footed ferrets. Their eyeshine is reflected by the spotlight and helps surveyors with identifying and locating these elusive, nocturnal carnivores.
Volunteers must have the ability to stay attentive from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. while spotlighting for black-footed ferrets and use, or learn how to use, a Global Positioning System (GPS). Volunteers can sign up by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org – with “fall spotlighting” in the subject line – by Sept. 13 for next month’s project and Oct. 11 for the later event. Space is limited.
Volunteers are reminded to include their full name, a contact phone number, month(s) and night(s) available to spotlight, and full names of others who also will be attending (a parent or guardian must accompany any youth under 18). Volunteers also should note any equipment they can bring, such as GPS, clipboard, headlamp, pen, binoculars, walkie-talkies, compass, cordless rechargeable spotlight, backpack or 4X4 vehicle.
These events will be conducted to assess the black-footed ferret population before winter. The objectives include trapping those animals that were not caught in the spring, to trap older ones that need a canine distemper or plague booster, and to trap juveniles (or “kits”) to administer vaccinations.
Water is the essence of life, and it’s just as precious for Arizona’s wildlife.
For that reason, the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) has trucked or airlifted more than 1.5 million gallons of precious water to catchments throughout the state since January 2018. Trail cameras tell the tale of this important work with footage of elk, deer, bighorn sheep and countless other species leaning over for a refreshing drink at one of 3,000 catchments maintained by the department.
“Water catchments are used by all wildlife, and while badly needed monsoon rains recently returned, storms are often sporadic and large sections of the state do not receive adequate water to sustain local wildlife populations,” said Joseph Currie, habitat planning program manager, who oversees AZGFD’s water catchment efforts.
“By hauling to water catchments, we’re helping to prevent the localized wildlife die-offs that could happen if water simply wasn’t available.”
Crews recently conducted emergency water drops via helicopter at catchments that were bone-dry near Kingman. Given that AZGFD doesn’t receive state general fund tax dollars, costs to drive and airlift water continue to mount.
Donate here and select SENDWATER
To help defray rising costs of providing life-sustaining water for Arizona’s wildlife statewide, AZGFD began its “Water for Wildlife” donation campaign last year to give the public an opportunity to support efforts by texting SENDWATER to 41444 from any smart device. After sending the text as one word, without a space, a link with the department’s logo will be sent to the phone to complete the donation.
Funding raised ensures that AZGFD can deliver water to remote regions of the state, which helps mitigate population fluctuations and keep wildlife out of urban areas in their search for water. Because of the donations, AZGFD was able to purchase a trailer and new tires for a water-hauling truck, fuel and help offset costs to airlift water to catchments for bighorn sheep.
While AZGFD partners with many great wildlife groups, the department bears much of the costs to haul water to and maintain about 1,000 of its own catchments statewide. Additionally, AZGFD also maintains an additional 1,000 Bureau of Land Management and 1,000 U.S. Forest Service water catchments. For more information about how AZGFD conserves and protects the state’s wildlife, or to make a donation to the Water for Wildlife campaign, visit www.azwildlifehero.com, or use your smart device to text SENDWATER to 41444.
They’re tiny, feisty and totally fascinating. The Arizona Game and Fish Department offers a look at what makes hummingbirds so special and why southern Arizona is the place to go to learn more about these jewel-like creatures.