Monday, March 10, 2014

Habitat for quail, mule deer new focus in AZ

Managing wildlife is not easy and there are a lot of places in Arizona to spend the sportsman’s dollar. The Arizona Game and Fish Department is currently asking itself if spreading those limited dollars across the entire state is the best thing or if a more focused approach would bring a bigger bang for each dollar spent.

The Department is looking at two species to focus on: mule deer and scaled quail. The recent increase in the application fees for resident and non-resident hunters will help fund a portion of this new focus.

With the recent large wildfires in the state and current habitat management programs in place, the department is considering units 27, 21 and 22 and 16A to increase mule deer numbers. With some habitat management work in these areas the department believes it can have a noticeable impact on deer numbers.

Scaled quail have been depressed by the incredible encroachment of woody species into historical grasslands. By restoring the grasslands not only will scaled quail benefit but antelope as well. Units 31 and 32 are currently under consideration.

Does that mean that the rest of the state will suffer? No it does not. What it means is that if these focused projects are successful they can be replicated in other areas of the state.

Look at it this way: The Department has been spending a lot of money to slow population declines due to our long-term drought and other factors. Here is a way for the Department to go on the offensive and make a positive change in wildlife numbers in the areas where they can get the best return on the sportsman’s dollar.

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