ISSUES

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:

    Thirst Elk drinking water provided by AES
  • 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.



Forest Service Announces Preferred Alternative for a New Planning Rule

Today the Forest Service announced the final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) for the planning rule, bringing us one step closer to a new rule. It's been a long journey since we published the Notice of Intent in December 2009 and asked for your help to develop a new planning rule. We've held over 63 public meetings across the country and received over 325,000 comments between our discussions on the NOI and the proposed rule and DEIS. On behalf of Forest Service leadership and the Planning Rule Team, I want to thank each of you for your participation in this rule making effort to date.

After receiving and considering 300,000 comments on the draft environmental impact statement and proposed rule, the Forest Service developed Modified Alternative A as the preferred alternative. The preferred alternative includes the same concepts and underlying principles as the proposed rule, with a number of changes to rule text and organization in response to public comments. The preferred alternative reflects the diversity of input the Forest Service received throughout the rulemaking process from the public, Tribes, scientists, and all parts of the Agency. It meets the need for a collaborative and science-based planning process that will guide management of National Forest System lands so they are ecologically sustainable and contribute to social and economic sustainability.

The Under Secretary of Agriculture will review the alternatives in the PEIS and issue a final rule and record of decision in approximately 30 days. There will be several opportunities for you to continue to contribute to the planning process once a final rule is issued. We'll be developing directives to provide more specific direction on how to consistently implement the new rule, and the public will have an opportunity to comment on the directives before they're finalized. Most importantly, forests and grasslands will soon begin revising and amending their plans under the new rule and you'll have opportunities to be involved throughout those processes.

We are also forming a Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) committee to continue to engage a diverse and broad set of interests in the planning process. The FACA committee will work to incorporate lessons learned and best practices into the planning process and provide advice on the development of the directives. You'll find the application form for nomination at http://www.fs.usda.gov/goto/planningrule/faca. The 45-day nomination period closes February 21, 2012.

I encourage you to visit the Planning Rule website at http://www.fs.usda.gov/planningrule to review the PEIS, a video message from the Chief, and some frequently asked questions.

Thank you again for your interest in the Forest Service and in the planning rule. Your continued participation in land management planning is critical to our success.

Sincerely,

Tony Tooke
Director, Ecosystem Management Coordination

The Four Forest Initiative

The Four Forest Initiative, more popularly known as the 4-FRI project involves the four forests in Arizona with large stands of ponderosa pine and will implement projects that treat huge tracts of forested land to reduce tree density. One important thing to remember about forest fires is that to burn, they need fuel and oxygen. If we can restore fuel loads and tree densities to more closely mimic pre-settlement conditions, the risk of stand-converting fires such as the Rodeo-Chediski and Wallow fires will be greatly reduced.

One of the great features of the 4-FRI project is the high level of public involvement that the resource management agencies have allowed. There are several working groups planning different elements of this forest health project. The Arizona Elk Society has a member on the Stakeholders group, the group that is actively helping the agencies develop a plan that can be implemented quickly and in a fashion that derives the greatest benefit to forests and for the people and animals that depend on healthy forests.

One of the very important features of 4-FRI is that it blends many different sciences into a single approach to restore forest health. Silviculturists have looked at tree size and density and identified those portions of the forest where tree conditions are most prone to extreme fire behavior. Fire ecologists have used their latest tools to determine where fires would be most destructive and when blended together, the ponderosa pine stands that are at greatest risk of a Wallow-type fire are identified. Mechanical thinning and management fires are two of the primary tools that will be used to make the forest a better and safer place. To begin to make progress, the Forest Service have several approaches in place to begin to make Arizona forests healthier and less fire prone.

For More Information on 4-FRI, See The Official Four Forest Initiative Website.

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Mexican Wolf Reintroduction Project News - December 9, 2011

Monthly Status Report: November 1-30, 2011

CURRENT POPULATION STATUS

At the end of November 2011, the collared population consisted of 35 wolves with functional radio collars dispersed among eleven packs and three single wolves.  The IFT documented two wolf mortalities in November.  Some other uncollared wolves are known to be associating with radio-collared wolves, and others are separate from known packs.

Seasonal note:  In November, the IFT initiated more focused efforts to document uncollared wolves within the BRWRA, including howling surveys, snow track surveys, trail cameras and coordinated follow up regarding reported wolf sightings.  These activities are scheduled to continue over the next three months.

IN ARIZONA:

Bluestem Pack (collared AM806, AF1042, mp1240 and mp1242)
Throughout November, the IFT located these wolves in their traditional territory in the central portion of the ASNF.  Toward the end of the month, the IFT investigated a report of an injured wolf from this pack.  The IFT was able to view the animal from a distance, and determined it was mp1242 and had an injury to a rear leg.  Capture operations were implemented; however, as of the end of November, these efforts were unsuccessful.

Hawks Nest Pack (collared M1038, m1248, f1208, mp1244 and fp1247)
In November, these wolves continued to use their traditional territory in the north-central portion of the ASNF.  The IFT documented five wolves with this pack, consisting of four collared wolves and one uncollared pup.  The IFT confirmed that M1038 was again with the pack this month; however, the telemetry collar on this wolf is still not currently functional.  Toward the end of the October, m1248 began to disperse from other pack members, and throughout November, this wolf was located alone outside of the traditional Hawks Nest Pack territory in the northern portion of the ASNF.

Rim Pack (collared AM1107 and AF858)
Throughout November, the IFT located the Rim Pack utilizing its summer range in the central portion of the ASNF.  The IFT located F1213 dead within the pack territory this month.

Paradise Pack (collared AM795, AF1056, mp1243 and mp1245) 
In November, these wolves continued to utilize the traditional summer range of their territory in the northern portion of the ASNF and the FAIR.

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Mexican Grey Wolf Reintroduction Update - November 4, 2011

November 4, 2011

Monthly Status Report:  October 1-31, 2011

CURRENT POPULATION STATUS

At the end of October 2011, the collared population consisted of 37 wolves with functional radio collars dispersed among eleven packs and four single wolves.  Some other uncollared wolves are known to be associating with radio-collared wolves, and others are separate from known packs.

Seasonal note:  In October, the IFT continued fall trapping efforts to document pack status and pup recruitment in several packs in the BRWRA.  The IFT captured three new pups-of-the-year, two new yearlings and one new adult wolf this month, including fp1250 and fp1251 from the Dark Canyon Pack, m1252 and mp1249 from the San Mateo Pack, m1248 from the Hawks Nest Pack, and M1253 on the FAIR.  IFT personnel also recaptured fp1247 from the Hawks Nest Pack and AF1056 from the Paradise Pack in October.  The IFT will continue efforts to trap and collar wolves from the Willow Springs Pack in November.

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Public Meeting and Webcast Set to Discuss Proposed Changes to Rules for Lawful Methods of Take of Wild Mammals, Birds and Reptiles

PHOENIX - The Arizona Game and Fish Department will host a public meeting and webcast on Tuesday, Nov. 8, from 6:30-7:30 p.m., to discuss proposed changes to rules for lawful methods of taking wild mammals, birds and reptiles. The meeting will be held at the Game and Fish headquarters at 5000 W. Carefree Highway in Phoenix and will be webcast at www.azgfd.gov/webcast. 

The department proposes to amend R12-4-304 to implement recently passed legislation and increase hunter opportunity by expanding allowable methods for the take of wild mammals, birds, and reptiles. Amendments are also proposed to make the rule less restrictive, increase clarity, and improve consistency with other subsections of the rule.

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Mexican authorities released five Mexican wolves in Sonora, Mexico

We have learned through Arizona Game and Fish that Mexican authorities released five Mexican wolves in the San Luis Mountains in Sonora, Mexico, on Oct. 12, 2011, approximately 80 miles south of Douglas, Ariz.

Mexico’s desire to release wolves in Sonora as part of its recovery effort has been known for the past two years, although the exact timetable for release was unknown.

“Mexico is a sovereign nation with its own wildlife conservation and recovery goals. The vast majority of historic habitat for the Mexican wolf is actually in Mexico, and long-term full recovery of the sub-species is incumbent on successful recovery there, as well as our recovery efforts in the U.S.,” said Larry Voyles, director of the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

Game and Fish will continue to work with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to determine how the wolves will be monitored and managed if animals cross the international border.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department has been actively involved in the multi-agency effort to reintroduce Mexican wolves to portions of their historic range in the east-central portion of Arizona (and adjacent New Mexico) for many years. In 1998, 11 captive-reared Mexican wolves were released into the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area (BRWRA) in eastern Arizona.

The current population in Arizona-New Mexico was assessed to be approximately 50 animals during 2011 monitoring. The Mexican wolf is considered endangered in the United States and Mexico.

Game and Fish continues to express concern over the lack of progress in aspects of wolf conservation.

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