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  1. bwakeling

    How to report deer harvest?

    SD Hunter: Bonecollector is correct. The Department used to require archers to report their harvest. But last year, new rules were promulgated that removed that requirement. Unfortunately, we have yet to correct that on the over the counter tags. So, thank you for actually reading the tag and trying to comply, but there is no longer a requirement for archers to report. We may send you a post card at the end of the season, and we would appreciate your response to that should you receive it. In the meantime, we will get the tag printing corrected for next year. Thank you and I apologize for the confusion! Brian Wakeling Game Branch Chief
  2. bwakeling

    AZGF bonus points!

    Workman is correct on all points regarding bonus points (pun intended), except what trphyhntr corrected on loyalty points. Brian Wakeling Game Branch Chief
  3. bwakeling

    What is considered baiting?

    All of this can be quite confusing, and there are numerous regulations that cover these topics depending on which critter you may be hunting. There are federal regulations that are rather broad regarding baiting waterfowl or migratory birds. Don't even think about it. You can hunt around normal agricultural practices or food plots. Bears have had a prohibition on baiting for quite a while. Again, don't even think about it. These are state regulations, but again preclude virtually any baiting of bears. During the last year, additional state rules were promulgated that regulate the placement of bait for other big game. There are 4 things that are exempted. Those things are: (1) water (so you can place water out to bait in deer), (2) salt (you can use water softener salt or white salt blocks, or even organic sea salt if you wish), or (3) salt-based products manufactured for the livestock industry (so you can use a trace mineral salt block). Finally, you can hunt over a nutritional supplement that has been placed by a livestock producer for his livestock (so you can hunt over a molasses wheel, but you can't place the molasses wheel yourself). Cervid urine is another recent change (prohibition). The recent rules were intended to address potential CWD issues in part, and the cervid urine is that entirely. You can use a synthetic, but not the real stuff. If you use the real stuff, you are spreading urine from captive game farm cervids. Urine carries prions, which are involved in CWD transmission. Consequently, you are spreading captive cervid urine, which is where the most likely source of CWD may come from, around Arizona where no CWD currently occurs. Synthetics won't spread the prions or CWD. Hopefully this clears up some of this confusion. Brian Wakeling Game Branch Chief
  4. bwakeling

    Early Archery Deer Hunts

    Thanks for the great ideas. Here is a little feedback. We haven't completely resurected the fruit salad hunts. But archery elk hunters in our best turkey units can now purchase the companion turkey tag - check to see if your elk unit is one of those. Our deer populations are not at levels they were at when the archers could hunt elk, turkey, and deer at the same time, so we are a little reluctant to go there right now. Archery doe hunts were also offered at a time when we far more deer than we do now. Again, we are reluctant to go there just yet. We would like to see deer populations rebound substantially first. Brian Wakeling Game Branch Chief
  5. bwakeling

    Early Archery Deer Hunts

    Amanda nudged me to engage on this one. But you guys have touched on many of the reasons why the early season is when it is. Moving the season later in the year will result in an overlap with another season. We have tried to avoid overlapping seasons to the extent possible. Trying to find a free week during the fall is just about impossible. There is always a hunt going on somewhere. And this is largely a good thing (lots of chances to participate), but it makes it challenging to move things around. If you don't find the buck you want during the early season, you can always come back during December. Or start early in January. When compared with a lot of other states, Arizona actually has a longer period during which you can hunt deer with archery tackle than a lot of other western states! And we are looking at ways to get some of those seasons added back in that have been removed. No promises, but we are looking at harvest to see if it drops now that a lot of baits are no longer lawful. Brian Wakeling Game Branch Chief
  6. bwakeling

    Final wording for the Bait Ban

    You know, I think every possible loophole gets tested within about 3 days of a rule being passed! And believe me, we sure try to test them as much as possible before we even run them out as drafts. OK, hogs are not wildlife. So you can use bait for hogs. But if you placed bait for hogs, then you cannot hunt deer over that bait. In fact, if you know someone else placed the bait for hogs, you cannot hunt deer over it. Big game is defined in statute (A.R.S. 17-101((3)). They include wild turkey, deer, elk, pronghorn, bighorn sheep, bison, peccary, bear and mountain lion. Salt is no better at killing CWD prions than anything else to my knowledge. But salt is so prevalent in the environment, that eliminating its use by hunters probably would do little to influence its distribution. Further, if you add more salt (just as with water), the crowding at existing salt (or water) is diminished. Wildlife need salt and water - they don't need other baits. By the way, one of the other rule changes eliminates the need for archery deer hunters to report via telephone if they are successful. There are unscrupulous hunters out there that have, in some instances, placed covers or deterents at waters when they knew that they were using only a couple of waters based on their camera photos, and they wanted to be sure that they could increase their odds of taking a deer at a given water source. So it isn't the blind or the trail camera, it is a physical or chemical deterrent placed to get deer (or other species) to come to a specific source to increase the probability of take that we are concerned with and the rule was designed to regulate. There was discussion regarding regulating blinds and cameras, but until we can demonstrate an effect on wildlife, we tend to avoid promulgation of rules on those topics. We really believe that most hunters are ethical and responsible enough to avoid that level of regulation. We need to be self-policing on the ethics so as to avoid population-level influences on wildlife. These are great questions, and I hope these answers are helpful! Brian Wakeling Game Branch Chief
  7. bwakeling

    Final wording for the Bait Ban

    All: I know this is a bit confusing, and I'm not the last word on this topic, but if you look at the final rule language it does try to provide clarity. Any time I read any legal contract, I'm amazed at how unclear it is in the process of keeping the legal profession afloat. The last time I rented a car, I think I signed my name more often than when I bought my first house. Nevertheless, in this instance: The rule specific exempts salt. It doesn't say that salt has to be for the livestock industry, but any type of salt is ok. If it is table salt, it is salt. If it is water softener salt, it is salt. If it is a salt-based product, then it has to be manufactored for the livestock industry. Mineral licks fall into this category. Finally, if it is a nutritional supplement that is not a salt-based product for the livestock industry or plain old salt, then it must be placed in the process of the agricultural operation. You can hunt over a molasses wheel if the livestock producer put it out for his cattle. This was intended to to balance the risks associated with disease transmission and methods that are already in use or practiced for many decades. Salt is quite prevalent on the landscape. Adding more salt simply reduces any concentrations already in existence and already in use. Water and salt are naturallyl occurring. Other baits are not. I hope this offers some help in interpreting the final rules adopted by the Commission. Brian Wakeling Game Branch Chief
  8. bwakeling

    Dear G and F: Some food for thought.....

    Non-Typical brought up a point made by Sundevil. Unfortunately, I don't believe what was described was possible to authorize with existing rules - I see no reference to anything but permanent disabilities. It is impossible to verify that this occurred in fact without knowing names and datas. At the Department, we hear all the time about "My wife's sister's hairdresser's husband's best buddy always" ... fill in the blank. Sometimes it happened, but it may not have occurred the way it was described. I have no way to verify or dispute that this individual received a permit for crosssbow use, but it doesn't sound correct to me. Brian Wakeling Game Branch Chief
  9. bwakeling

    Dear G and F: Some food for thought.....

    You know, I believe you have identified some great points that need to be considered. Crossbow permits and Challlenged Hunter Access/Mobility Permit are both governed by Article 2 rules (R12-4-216 and 217). When the governor and legislature do not limit rulemaking through moratorium, each rule is reviewed and revised at least once every 5 years by law. If you take your suggested changes and considerations and email them to rulemaking@azgfd.gov, they will be on file for the next rule review. Unfortunately (or fortunately), we cannot simply amend rules without following the processes. It is a public process designed to provide the public with an opportunity to comment and review, and prevents decisions to be made without transparency. Because these are codified in rule, the Department's "deal" is that we have to follow the rule consistently. We don't have the ability to selectively apply the rules. When you submit your comments, rulemaking can tell you when the next scheduled review of Article 2 rules will be. Discussion forums are a great place to kick ideas around, but if you don't submit the comments, no one will know you've had the discussion. Brian Wakeling Game Branch Chief
  10. bwakeling

    AZGFD doesn't care about the youth.

    There have been a lot of excellent responses to your post already, and I'm coming to the party a little bit late. I did want you to know that the Department does care about youth and the important role they will play in the future management of wildlife. The way the Department has to manage our processes are generally spelled out in statute, rule, order, or policy. And we have to interpret them consistently to the best of our ability. Sometimes it doesn't seem right, but it is interpreted fairly. What I mean by that is it is interpreted consistently so that everyone is treated the same. Maybe that doesn't always feel good, but we have to do it that way. When we can, we generally try to use our discretion to the individual's favor. Unfortunately for you, there is a statute and rule that says we cannot return money or bonus points if it is not our error. We are investigating potential changes to rule that might be more flexible, but we are not there yet. Let me give you another example. The rule that specifically addresses "juniors-only" hunts is R12-4-318. By statute, rules must be reviewed at least once every 5 years. We had a series of modifications to that rule scheduled for revision, and in fact had presented proposed rulemaking to the Commission in December 2008. When Governor Brewer took office in January 2009, she placed a moratorium on rulemaking that was subsequently extended several times by the legislature. The rulemaking package expired, and only last year due to additional legislation introduced by Senator Antenori regarding hunting in counties and municipalities (SB 1334), we were able to address some of the proposed changes in R12-4-318. That rule was amended and effective January 1, 2013, juniors-only hunts will now be available to any youth up to their 18th birthday. So long as you do not turn 18 before the hunt begins, you will be eligible. By the way, for most government agencies, there is still a moratorium in place for rulemaking. It has been there since January 2009. Arizona Game and Fish is regaining some rulemaking ability, but it is slow and we are trying to remain consistent with the governor and legislature's intents. This example is to demonstrate how complex the system is and how difficult changes can be even if they seem simple or obvious. We are not trying to be hardnosed or obstinate - we simply have to live with what the rules are. And there are many people that have expressed frustration with the 20% bonus pass (which is in Article 1 rules) and leftover tags. The rule was adopted originally because of public input. The implications and effect on those applicants when there were leftover tags was never fully considered, but the system works exactly as designed. Truth to tell, there are probably a number of times when people draw their second choice during the bonus pass when they would probably have received their first choice had they not received a tag in the bonus pass, but this is generally not detected because all the tags are issued through the draw. I hope you get to enjoy some time in the field hunting with your family this year. I know systems are rarely flawless. But also recognize that the people that have to implement the process are rarely the source of the perceived problem. We will continue to improve processes. Processes are changed through the public forum to protect the public and ensure transparency in our decision making. I hope this explanation helps you to understand this complexity to some degree. Good luck. Brian Wakeling Game Branch Chief
  11. bwakeling

    ADA statement

    I learned of this thread earlier today, and I wanted to clarify a few points that have been brought up regarding the sale of Special Big Game License Tags (Commissioner's Tags) and the organizations that market them. While I realize that this thread has touched on many topics, this one seems to resurface. Current Arizona statute allows the Arizona Game and Fish Commission to award up to 3 Special Big Game License Tags for each big game species. The Commission does so annually in June, and a number of wildlife conservation organizations request the ability to market those tags. Statute requires that 100% of the proceeds are returned to the Commission, and those tag funds are allocated to projects in coordination with those groups and the Habitat Partnership Committee, currently chaired by Commissioner J. W. Harris. About a year and a half ago, the Commission worked with the various groups to develop a sales agreement that would ensure greater transparency and accountability for these sales, be they raffle or auction. Commissioner Harris chaired that committee, many wildlife conservation organizations participated, and the Commission approved the new agreement. This year at the Wild Sheep Foundation auction, the auctioneer noted on the slides that a 5% buyers premium would be added to the sale of any state tag that was being sold IF ALLOWED BY STATE LAWS OR RULES. When I returned from the convention, I consulted our attorneys to determine if a buyer's premium was lawful, and I was assured that it was NOT. I immediately contacted WSF and they assured me that NO buyer's premium would be levied on the Arizona tag sales. At no time am I aware of any buyer's premium being levied on an Arizona tag. The Commission has tried very hard to ensure that this program could not be misused. Tags have been sold by national groups and by local groups, to include the Arizona Deer Association, the Mule Deer Foundation, and many others. So far as the tags are concerned, I am unaware of any of these groups being anything other than truly great fundraising partners. Yes, Commissioner's tags helps these organizations by bringing clients to their banquets, but they have always bore the administrative costs of these sales. Both the Department and the wildlife conservation organizations benefits. And the benefits get passed on to the wildlife resources of Arizona. Arizona has a great program because of the partnership among the Commission, the great wildlife conservation organizations that sponsor the tags (both national and local), and the sportsmen that have interest in participating in the raffles and auctions for these tags. Brian Wakeling Game Branch Chief Arizona Game and Fish Department
  12. bwakeling

    What does AZGFD do exactly?

    There have been quite a number of comments and ideas shared since I posted some information on what the Arizona Game and Fish Department does, and I'll try to respond to some of the thoughts. One comment stated that we raise fees and tag numbers. Well, the last time we raised fees was in 2007. So we are going into our fifth year without any change to licenses and tags. And the increase before that was in 2001. So yes, we do raise fees, but we try to keep those fees in line with cost of doing business, and we try not to do so too often. A resident general hunting license was $25.50 in 2001 and it costs $32.25 today. It had been at $18.00 since 1991. So the general license fee for resident hunting has increased $14.25 in a little over 20 years. Yes there have been fee increases in other tags and permits, but I haven't seen a lot of rampant fee increases. A license is still cheaper than a tank of gas. Increases in permits was something else that was mentioned. In 2010, we issued 43,993 general deer permits. The lowest number issued was in 2004 when we issued 36,665. In 1986 we issued 94,871. Yes we had more deer at that time. We also have more deer today than we had in 2004. Deer populations fluctuate, and the harvest of bucks doesn't influence recruitment or survival of the reproductive segment of the population. So while hunting can influence the number of mature bucks and the abundance of bucks, the trajectory of the overall population is influenced by other things like weather, habitat conditions, habitat development and fragmentation, water availability, and predation. In case you missed it in my first post, the Commission has now provided the Department direction to manage for higher buck to doe and bull to cow ratios. That will mean fewer tags will be issued next year. We dropped just over 1,000 elk tags next year when compared to this past fall. And as for the nostalgic memories of Units 23, 24A, and 27 - in 1986 there were 2 hunts in Unit 23 with 2,300 and 900 permits; there were 2 hunts in 24A West with 800 permits each, 1 hunt in 24A East with 1,500 permits, and 1 hunt in 24A East and West combined with 600 permits; and there were 3 hunts in Unit 27 with 2,600, 3,200, and 200 permits. Hunter crowding must have been better tolerated when there were more deer. Someone made a comment about increasing the number of trophy (or what we call Alternative Management Units) areas in the state, at least one for each Region. The guidelines that were adopted by the Commission include mule alternative units in 3A/3C, 12A, 12B, 13A, 13B, 45A, 45B, and 45C. White-tailed deer alternative units include Units 6A, 23, 30B, 31, and 36C. Alternative elk Units are 1, 9, 10, and 23. Additionally, the Commission directed the Department to offer up to 10 late season mule deer hunts with up to 40 permits each, so there will be more late season opportunity around the state for mule deer as well. So why have deer populations declined. The Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies formed the Mule Deer Working Group to help find solutions to this dilema. While there are lots of potential causes, the most likely deal with changes to the habitat occupied by deer. This can be a result of fire suppression, fragmentation by urbanization and road development, brushier habitats that favor stalking predators like mountain lions, or denied access to waters or high quality habitat. Solar arrays and wind generating power sources are continuing to develop more habitat. Junipers are encroaching into what once were productive areas. Things are changing and many of them are not favorable. We have seen deer rebound following fires in some habitats (like the Rodeo-Chedeski and hopefully following the Wallow Fire), but not so well in others (like the Bridger Knoll on the Kaibab). Quail management is a popular theme this year. Improving quail populations is really dependent on improving habitat, which can be done through active land management activities or through favorable rainfall patterns and quantities. We are not the land management agency and we don't determine the acceptable grazing levels on quail habitat. We do coordinate with BLM and USFS, but we are not always in complete agreement with their determinations. That said, cattle grazing is far better managed today than it was just a decade ago, and ranchers and land managers are working to improve landscapes in coordination with our wildlife managers and habitat specialists. Little of what influences quail populations is in our direct control. Again, the influence of hunting has been demonstrated in repeated research studies to have little influence in next season's population levels. Why do we partner with wildlife conservation organizations and land management agencies rather than just doing it ourselves? Frankly, I see two primary reasons. One, we don't have jurisdiction over all aspects of natural resource management. And two, it greatly expands our reach and influence. We can't do nearly as much without partnering, and neither can our partners. We get more done working together. Should anyone have any trouble with misconduct of an employee of this agency, please report the specifics of the misconduct to our Department offices. Call any office and ask to report employee misconduct. We will initiate a formal investigation. We cannot handle this type of information through a post on a web site, but we do take these seriously and they are formally investigated. Finally, someone said their 12-year-old son could do a better job managing wildlife than we do. You might be right. But I would also suggest that there is a lot more to managing Arizona's wildlife than what meets the eye. Again, I believe this is a healthy discussion. But little of what we do is obvious. We are required to comply with strict purchasing procedures to keep government from favoring friends or special interests. Those same procedures require minimum specifications that to ensure quality and protect the public. Our intent is to keep costs low by keeping a fleet of vehicles that remains within warranty to the extent possible. Vehicles that are not used substantially do not get replaced. Most of the professionals that I work with are far more dedicated to what they do than most people realize. They don't get into this work because they plan to get rich. They do it because it is a passion for them. Obviously, this is a passion for many of you as well. We know that you all aren't poachers - please keep in mind that we aren't all government hacks feeding at the public trough. We need each other. I hope everyone has a great holiday season, and also wish the elk tag of your dreams to be in your pocket next fall. There is still time to apply... Brian Wakeling Game Branch Chief
  13. bwakeling

    What does AZGFD do exactly?

    This is an interesting post and a very valid question. Red Rabbit provided the link to our website, and there is a lot there. My guess, based on the remainder of the first post is that the real interest here lies with game management, and probably primarily deer and elk. Deer populations are admittedly low right now, but the low point was probably reached around 2002. Since that time, statewide we have been seeing a cautious increase. It is nothing like it was in the early 1980s, and I'm not claiming that we can just sit back and watch things improve. But the Department and Commission have been struggling with several concepts that consider both improving wildlife and wildlife habitat and keeping as many hunters engaged as possible. That was the "opportunity" phase that many hunters seemed to dislike. And despite our efforts to put more people afield, statewide buck to doe ratios increased. This year, the Commission listened very closely to what hunters had to say and they adopted new hunt guidelines that direct the Department to manage for higher buck to doe and bull to cow ratios. In the short term, managing for higher ratios will generate fewer tags and fewer hunters in the field, but should provide more older age class animals and probably a better quality hunt for more people. The Commission followed that action in August with a reduction of over 1,000 elk tags at the December meeting. We have yet to set the deer tags for fall 2012, but I expect to see permit reductions there as well when we address them in April 2012. Permit reductions certainly do reduce the revenue that the Department receives. And the Department is primarily funded by hunter (and angler) dollars, either through license fees or federal excise taxes. This is a double edged sword - hunters and anglers do fund most conservation, but conservation is not always cheap. We work with several wildlife conservation organizations, including the Arizona Elk Society, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Arizona Deer Association, Mule Deer Foundation, National Wild Turkey Federation, Arizona Antelope Foundation, and the Arizona Desert Bighorn Sheep Society just to name a few. These groups raise money in a variety of ways that we then put on the ground to benefit wildlife. Each year, they raise between $1.2 and $1.5 million through special license tag sales that they have to market. But we jointly decide on how we can best enhance game habitat through the Habitat Partnership Committee. Some of these groups work to raise additional funds through their banquets (the National Wild Turkey Federation routinely contributes as much to habitat work through fundraising banquets as they do through tag sales) or other grants (the Arizona Antelope Foundation recently secured a National Fish and Wildlife Foundation grant to benefit pronghorn in southern Arizona). This is work that we jointly pursue. Joining one of these organizations can be a great way to get involved, make a difference, and assist with solving management problems. The Commission has recently liberalized mountain lion and coyote seasons in those units where predation may be influencing prey population declines. Mountain lions and coyotes may now be pursued with artificial light during daylong seasons in specific areas and specific times so that hunters may be more involved in assisting with predation management. This isn't statewide, but it is designed to help in specific areas. For instance, hunters can harvest multiple lions within Unit 16A South, and even do so using artificial light after dark, and we just released 20 bighorn sheep in this area with funding provided by the Arizona Desert Bighorn Sheep Society. If you have questions about why the Commission makes the decisions that they do, please attend the meetings. They are publicly noticed and you may address the Commission on any noticed agenda topic. I have only scratched the surface on what the Department does. I am not suggesting that we are perfect, nor that we cannot improve. Our goal is to constantly keep improving. If you have suggestions, please send them our way. If you have specific questions, feel free to contact me directly at bwakeling@azgfd.gov. Like I said, this is an important question. There are a number of subjects on which I am not well informed, so if there is a topic for which you have a question that I cannot answer, I can probably find someone that can address that topic. Brian Wakeling Game Branch Chief
  14. OK, that link doesn't seem to work. http://www.azgfd.gov/w_c/fire_impacts_on_wildlife.shtml If this one doesn't, I'll find another way to list this. Brian Wakeling
  15. I'm glad to hear some people are taking advantage of our web casts. Amanda asked that I share the presentation with anyone that might be interested. It has now been posted on our web site at http://www.azgfd.gov/w_c/fire_impacts_on_wildlife.shtml. On the right side of the page is a linik to the "Fire and Game" commission presentation. Hope some of the visuals are better this way than through our web cast. As I mentioned when I presented this to the Commission, all of our data is based on preliminary analyses at this point in time. Brian Wakeling Game Branch Chief