Number of Breeding Bald Eagles in Arizona Grows

[Source: Gateway to Sedona] – With the bald eagle breeding season in Arizona coming to a close, the state’s population continues to flourish, according to the Arizona Game and Fish Department. For the 2010 breeding season, three new active breeding areas were identified bringing the total number of occupied breeding areas in the state to 52. The total number of breeding adult bald eagles also grew to 104, which is the highest on record.

This year, under the careful watch of the Arizona Game and Fish Department and a coalition of 22 other partners that make up the Southwestern Bald Eagle Management Committee, 44 eaglets also reached the critical point of taking their first flight, an important milestone for a young bird’s chances of survival.

Bald eagle numbers over the past 30 years have grown more than 600 percent in the state.

“Identifying three new breeding areas in the state is a positive sign that our population of bald eagles continues to grow and do well,” said Kenneth Jacobson, Arizona Game and Fish Department bald eagle management coordinator.

The breeding season for bald eagles in Arizona typically runs from December through June, although a few bald eagle pairs at higher elevations nest later than those in the rest of the state.

The bald eagle program is supported by the Heritage Fund,
a voter-passed initiative that provides funding for wildlife conservation through Arizona Lottery revenue [to read the full article click here].

State wants to change Becker Lake fishing rules

[Source: Karen Warnick, WMIcentral.com] – Kelly Meyer of the Game and Fish Department presented information at a public hearing at the Eagar Council chambers on changing the status of Becker Lake to catch and release only. The meeting was held Sept. 21 and about 30 to 40 people attended. The proposal by Game and Fish will be sent to the Game and Fish Commission in early October for a vote.

History of Becker Lake –“Becker Lake was created in 1880 by constructing a dam at the head of an old oxbow of the Little Colorado River,” according to Game and Fish. “The lake was used principally for irrigation purposes. However, a fishery did exist there. In 1973, the Becker family sold 338 deeded acres to the Arizona Game and Fish Commission which included the lake of approximately 100 surface-acres. In that year, the Commission directed the Arizona Game and Fish Department to manage Becker Lake as a quality trout fishery. Since that time, the Department has managed the lake as a ‘Blue Ribbon’ fishery with special regulations, such as motor restrictions, bag and possession limits, restricted methods of take and seasonal closures. In January 2002, the Department purchased an additional 291 acres of adjacent private land utilizing the Department’s Heritage Fund to protect and enhance stream and riparian habitat along the Little Colorado River for wildlife species of special concern.” [to read the full article click here].

Endangered fish find a new home at the Rio Salado Audubon Center

[Source: Arizona Outdoor News] – Two endangered species of native fish became the newest residents to the outdoor ponds at the Nina Mason Pulliam Rio Salado Audubon Center. Nearly 500 desert pupfish and 550 Gila topminnow were released yesterday into the center’s ponds as part of a program aimed at allowing private landowners to participate in the conservation of threatened and endangered species.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department is working to establish new populations of these fish at large, secure ponds in an effort to build up the populations for future stockings. The Audubon Center ponds are expected to produce thousands of topminnow and pupfish each year.

“Thanks in part to support from the Heritage Fund, we are working with our partners to re-establish these rare native fish across their historical range in Arizona,” says Jeff Sorensen, native fish and invertebrate program manager for the Arizona Game and Fish Department. “The fish we released this week should provide us with offspring that can be used to re-establish the species in new locations.”

The release was part of the Safe Harbor program that allows non-federal landowners to actively participate in the recovery of these endangered fish by providing sites to establish populations of the species in areas where it no longer exists. The Audubon Center is the tenth participant enrolled in the program. “Audubon Arizona is excited to provide a safe harbor for these native Arizona fish,” says Cathy Wise, Audubon Arizona education director [to read the full article, click here].

Frog totals in the wild jump by 1,700

[Source: Sierra Vista Herald] – The Arizona wilderness became a bit more populated this week, thanks to a team of biologists from the Arizona Game and Fish Department, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, and the Phoenix Zoo’s Conservation Center. 

More than 1,700 threatened Chiricahua leopard frogs were released into the Tonto National Forest. The frogs, including adults and tadpoles, were released at multiple sites in the forest near Payson. The frogs were raised from eggs collected near Young. Additionally, 100 frogs that were bred and raised at the zoo were released last week near Camp Verde in the Coconino National Forest.  

“Thanks in part to Game and Fish’s Heritage Fund, we are making great strides in re-establishing Chiricahua leopard frogs to their native habitat in Arizona, and this release marks a significant accomplishment and milestone for the recovery effort,” said Michael Sredl of the Arizona Game and Fish Department. “Our goal is to work through partnerships to preclude the need to list species on the federal endangered species list, or in cases where they are already listed, to recover them to a point where they can be removed from the list.”

 Until the 1970s, Chiricahua leopard frogs lived in ponds and creeks across central and southeastern Arizona, but populations have declined significantly since then due to drought, disease, habitat loss and threats from non-native species. They were listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 2002.  A recovery team was created to help bring the species back from the brink of extinction. The team developed a recovery plan with the goal of recovering the species to the point where it can be removed from the endangered species list. The plan includes releases of captive-bred frogs, habitat restoration, and monitoring.