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: Three Mexican wolf pups successfully cross-fostered into pack in Arizona
- AZGFD in the News: National Weather Service radar picks up on huge colony of bats over Phoenix
- Walk on the Wild Side: Chevelon Canyon Wildlife Area
- AZGFD in the News: Just how fast is a roadrunner? 6 things to know about Arizona’s iconic bird
- Partner Projects: Local leaders form collaborative for ecological restoration, recreation along lower Gila River
- Video of the Month: We are Game and Fish
PINETOP, Ariz. — Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) wolf biologists using remote trail cameras recently documented eight Mexican wolf pups, an endangered subspecies, in the Hoodoo Pack in the northeastern Apache Sitgreaves National Forest.
In April, AZGFD and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) cross-fostered four genetically valuable wolf pups into the Hoodoo Pack from a litter in captivity at the Sedgwick Zoo in Wichita, Kan.
After cross-fostering was completed by AZGFD and USFWS, there were five wild Mexican wolf pups and four cross-fostered pups for a total litter of nine pups in this Hoodoo Pack litter. At least three of the pups observed are cross-fostered. Biologists are working to determine if a fourth pup may also be a cross-fostering success.
AZGFD wolf biologists were scheduled to begin fall trapping efforts in September to document cross-fostered wolves that have survived, and to deploy tracking collars to monitor and manage the wolf population in Arizona.
Cross-fostering is a proven method used by the Mexican Wolf Interagency Field Team (IFT) to increase genetic diversity in the wild Mexican wolf population. It involves placing genetically diverse pups less than 14 days old from captive breeding populations into wild dens with similarly aged pups to be raised as wild wolves. The IFT has documented that cross-fostered pups have the same survival rate as wild-born pups in their first year of life (~50%), and survival rates using this technique are generally higher than other wolf release methods. Furthermore, cross-fostered pups raised in wild packs are less likely to get into conflicts with humans than pups raised in captivity.
Last spring, biologists from the AZGFD, New Mexico Department of Game and Fish and Mexican Wolf Species Survival Plan, with extensive logistical support from USFWS, cross-fostered a total of 20 genetically diverse wolf pups from captive facilities across the U.S. into litters of wild wolf packs. Since 2014, there have been 52 genetically diverse wolf pups cross-fostered into the wild to work toward genetic recovery of the Mexican wolf population.
Kudos to 3TV/CBS 5 and reporter Spencer Blake for a recent article about how a colony of bats, most likely Mexican free-tailed, appeared one evening on National Weather Service radar. It is believed the bats were coming out of a cave, a tunnel, or a bridge and then dispersing to find bugs to eat across the Phoenix area.
As in most Ponderosa pine ecosystems of the Mogollon Rim, meadows and sensitive riparian habitats are limited, making them vitally important to wildlife species.
Chevelon Canyon Wildlife Area is unique in the fact that the property consists of five ranches — Dye, Duran, Tillman, Wolfe and Vincent — that total almost 158 acres, each parcel fenced to exclude livestock grazing, which provides foraging areas for mule deer, elk and turkey, as well as several small game and nongame species. The ranches also occur within Designated Critical Habitat for the Mexican spotted owl.
In addition to the resident elk, turkey and deer for which the ranches were acquired back in the 1960s, several species of nongame birds and other wildlife typical of forest and meadow environs inhabit the property. Sensitive species in the area include desert suckers, speckled dace, Little Colorado spinedace, northern goshawks, golden eagles, belted kingfishers, Mexican spotted owls and peregrine falcons.
The wildlife area, located south of Winslow, offers watchable wildlife opportunities throughout the year. There is no overnight public camping, and hunting is allowed in season (Game Management Unit 4A).
Kudos to The Arizona Republic and reporter Shaena Montanari for a recent article about the roadrunner, the long-legged speedster related to the cuckoo that can leave a human in the dust, outduel an angry rattlesnake, and eat just about anything it can swallow.
Partner Projects: Local leaders form collaborative for ecological restoration, recreation along lower Gila River
BUCKEYE, Ariz. — Local leaders, including the Gila River Indian Community, West Valley mayors, Maricopa County officials, and state agency representatives — which includes the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) — recently met in support of the Lower Gila River Collaborative (LGRC), a growing cooperative effort to restore natural resources along the lower Gila River, improve access to nature-based recreation, and promote the river as an amenity in the West Valley.
The lower Gila River stretches from west Phoenix, east to the historic Gillespie Dam Bridge, providing opportunities for bird watching, fishing, kayaking and more. Every year, in late winter, partners host the Tres Rios Nature Festival at Base and Meridian Wildlife Area to celebrate this ecologically rich desert waterway. LGRC is increasing these kinds of opportunities for communities to get to know their backyard river, while improving wildlife habitat and restoring river flows.
Among the challenges that the partners are taking on is invasive salt cedar, a Mediterranean tree species that drastically alters the flow and function of the river. The LGRC invites the public to participate in restoration and stewardship with an online event calendar, volunteer opportunities and upcoming meetings at www.lowergilariver.net.
“We have been working with partners for several years on this vision,” said Jackie Meck, Buckeye’s mayor who serves on the LGRC Leadership Council. “It’s wonderful to see it continue and grow.”
The LGRC Leadership Council recently met for the first time to affirm commitment to regional priorities for this unique river system: ecological restoration, river recreation, economic development and tourism, and community engagement. Leaders celebrated achievements, including invasive plant removal, native vegetation planting, new research and mapping, and public volunteer events.
Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego, also a member of the LGRC Leadership Council, said, “Collaboration that creates environmental, social and economic value along the lower Gila not only enriches the region, but also provides a direct benefit to the investment and efforts the City of Phoenix has made to revitalize the Salt River corridor over the past two decades.”
The LGRC ensures place-based planning, reflexive decision-making and improved effectiveness of West Valley projects. It complements the El Rio Watercourse Master Plan regional vision for a healthy and resilient river, accelerating the work of partners to accomplish shared goals. LGRC serves as the primary forum for Rio Reimagined’s West Zone. The Rio Reimagined initiative, envisioned by the late U.S. Sen. John McCain to revitalize the Salt and Gila rivers corridor through metro Phoenix, has recently joined the Environmental Protection Agency’s Urban Waters Partnership, securing $1.4 million in federal grants for brownfields assessment and clean-up.
The LGRC Leadership Council includes mayors and councilmembers of Avondale, Buckeye, Goodyear and Phoenix; directors of Flood Control District of Maricopa County and Maricopa County Parks and Recreation; the governor of the Gila River Indian Community; and AZGFD and Arizona State Forestry and Fire Management representatives. The collaborative engages more than 40 additional partners from the public, non-profit and private sectors in its working groups and committees. The group meets annually as a full collaborative.
It is the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s mission to conserve Arizona’s diverse wildlife resources and manage for safe, compatible outdoor recreation opportunities for current and future generations. Check out what we do, and the dedicated, hard-working people who do it.