As we identify key issues, the Arizona Elk Society will provide more background information and a sample letter to enable our members and others to voice their position to the decision makers on that issue.
The Arizona Elk Society, in support of our mission, is committed to:
- Conserving and enhancing wildlife habitat in Arizona.
- Protecting and promoting our hunting heritage.
- Promoting sound wildlife management and habitat through partnering with government agencies and other organizations.
- Implementing special programs for youth education regarding conservation, hunting and outdoor activities.
- Informing the general public about issues concerning wildlife conservation, as well as scientific and biological wildlife and habitat management.
Mexican Wolf Reintroduction Project News - February 13, 2012
Monthly Status Report: Jan. 1-31, 2012
The following is a summary of Mexican Wolf Reintroduction Project (Project) activities in Arizona on the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests (ASNF) and Fort Apache Indian Reservation (FAIR) and in New Mexico on the Apache National Forest (ANF) and Gila National Forest (GNF). Non-tribal lands involved in this Project are collectively known as the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area (BRWRA). Additional Project information can be obtained by calling (928) 339-4329 or toll free at (888) 459-9653, or by visiting the Arizona Game and Fish Department website at http://www.azgfd.gov/wolf or by visiting the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service website athttp://www.fws.gov/southwest/
To view weekly wolf telemetry flight location information or the 3-month wolf distribution map, please visit http://www.azgfd.gov/wolf. On the home page, go to the “Wolf Location Information” heading on the right side of the page near the top and scroll to the specific location information you seek.
Please report any wolf sightings or suspected livestock depredations to: (928) 339-4329 or toll free at (888) 459-9653. To report incidents of take or harassment of wolves, please call the AGFD 24-hour dispatch (Operation Game Thief) at (800) 352-0700.
Numbering System: Mexican wolves are given an identification number recorded in an official studbook that tracks their history. Capital letters (M = Male, F = Female) preceding the number indicate adult animals 24 months or older. Lower case letters (m = male, f = female) indicate wolves younger than 24 months or pups. The capital letter “A” preceding the letter and number indicate alpha wolves.
Definitions: A “wolf pack” is defined as two or more wolves that maintain an established territory. In the event that one of the two alpha (dominant) wolves dies, the remaining alpha wolf, regardless of pack size, retains the pack status. The packs referenced in this update contain at least one wolf with a radio telemetry collar attached to it. The Interagency Field Team (IFT) recognizes that wolves without radio telemetry collars may also form packs. If the IFT confirms that wolves are associating with each other and are resident within the same home range, they will be referenced as a pack.
Baca National Wildlife Refuge – Wolf Update
Recently there was a lot of chatter on the Internet relative to the potential for the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service to use wolves to help reduce the elk population on and around the Baca National Wildlife Refuge in southern Colorado. With the potential for some of these wolves to wander into Arizona this was a definite topic of interest to the Executive Board of the Arizona Elk Society. The concept of wolf introduction was raised in a planning document sent out by the Fish and Wildlife Service relative to management of the Baca NWR and surrounding areas in the San Luis Valley. The planning document provided four alternative management approaches for the area, one of which did include the potential for wolf introduction. The AES had sent a letter to the FWS about this issue, as did a huge number of sportsmen. The FWS heard the outcry and in a letter dated February 6, 2012 announced that they had no plans to introduce wolves.
This is yet another example of how active, united sportsmen can influence wildlife management decisions. That said, it is important to keep up to date on these types of issues, which is why the AES actively used media tools like Facebook, Twitter and the AES website to let you know about important wildlife issues that affect the AES membership. With all the conservation issues that arise, I encourage you to check the website, Twitter, and our Facebook page for news and updates.
Steve Clark, President
Arizona Elk Society
Arizona Game and Fish Department conducts 2011 population surveys in state for multi-agency Mexican wolf program
February 03, 2012
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), Arizona Game and Fish Department and other partners in the Mexican Wolf Reintroduction Project announced earlier today that the endangered Mexican wolf population count increased to a minimum of 58 wolves compared to last year’s count of 50.
The increase is encouraging news for the multi-agency program, especially considering that the state’s largest wildfire, the Wallow, burned through three packs’ denning areas within weeks of pups being born.
The wolf project stimulates high public interest, and the public often asks Game and Fish how wolf population surveys are conducted and what the department’s role in the project is.
The Arizona Game and Fish Department dedicates five staff to the Interagency Field Team (IFT), the multi-agency group that oversees on-the-ground wolf conservation activities. Game and Fish’s IFT staff are responsible for the day-to-day management of wolves; coordinating and conducting the annual population counts; and, any helicopter-associated wolf captures in Arizona on public lands and on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation.
In addition, the department provides pilots and fixed-wing planes to assist in locating wolves via telemetry signals prior to the helicopter counts and any capture efforts throughout the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area (BRWRA), which encompasses parts of Arizona and New Mexico. This year the department conducted the surveys in Arizona, while FWS conducted them in New Mexico.
Four Forest Restoration Initiative (4FRI) Update
For the last two decades, large-scale forest fires like the Rodeo-Chediski and the Wallow fires have scarred huge tracts of land in the Southwest leaving in its wake huge economic loss as homes and businesses are lost to the ravages of fire. The wildlife value of over a million acres has been drastically changed and an unknown number of wild creatures have perished. The causes are fairly straightforward; lack of fire regime, poor forest management practices, and untimely litigation all have set the stage for these fires.
The real challenge is how to restore healthy forests before more catastrophic fires occur when the main problem is small-sized trees that have very little economic value with current forest product technology. A few years ago, the 4FRI program was initiated, which is a collaborative planning approach to forest health that is on the verge of awarding contracts to begin to long process of restoring ecosystem health in our valued forests. The AES has been at the table and will continue to work for the success of the 4FRI project for to do otherwise only facilitates yet another major fire.
Arizona Elk Society, Elk, Aspen and the Wallow Fire
One of the key issues affecting elk management in parts of Arizona forests is the role that elk play in aspen regeneration. For the past couple of years, the Coconino and Kaibab national forests have asked the Department and the Commission to increase elk harvest to reduce grazing on aspen shoots. The AES has pointed out that the issue of aspen decline is the result of a multitude of factors including climate change, forest management that has resulted in proliferation of conifers that shade out aspen, lack of fire or other sources of disturbances that are key to aspen regeneration, and elk grazing.
With the Wallow Fire, there is a golden opportunity to examine how large-scale fires affect aspen regeneration and more importantly recruitment of trees to large sizes. In early January, Jim deVos and Ron Eichelberger represented the AES at the formative meeting for a workgroup that will help design a monitoring protocol that will answer some of the key questions posed about aspen regeneration. The Forest Service and the Arizona Game and Fish Department were also present as was an aspen researcher from Utah State University. The workgroup will continue to frame the design of a monitoring plan that will begin to answer many questions related to the conditions needed to help regrowth of aspen in Southwestern forest. The AES will continue to play an active role in this workgroup on behalf of the membership and the elk in the state.
Mexican wolf and the Arizona Republic Editorial Panel
Many of you likely saw a recent editorial on the Mexican gray wolf in the Arizona Republic and disagreed with what you read. If so, you were not alone and the leadership of the Arizona Elk Society, Arizona Deer Association and the Arizona Desert Bighorn Sheep Society were upset to the point of action. A meeting was scheduled with the Republic’s Editorial Board to present our viewpoint to them in a clear and succinct fashion. We were able to meet with the panel for an hour and a half and as a group we felt that the panel had listened and understood the points that we wanted to make. One of the key issues that we wanted to make sure were heard were the following four points:
- Reestablishment of a stakeholder group that meets regularly and provides an effective forum for public input into wolf management issues.
- That the current recovery planning initiative becomes more transparent and inclusive.
- That the Service re-establish effective and respectful working relationships with those entities that have jurisdictional wildlife management authorities.
- That the Service develops a communication plan for Mexican gray wolf reintroduction that provides regularly scheduled information releases.
What the outcome of this meeting is remains to be seen, but the AES and the other wildlife conservation organizations are out there trying to make a better place for Arizona’s wildlife.