Arizona Wildlife Notebook Revised – #Wildlife, #Arizona, #Conservation

Arizona Wildlife Notebook

A new edition of the “Arizona Wildlife Notebook” is available.

In the year, 2015, lethal heat waves and storms made it clear that humanity was changing the Earth.  Anyone who paid attention to the news knew that Earth’s animals and plants were disappearing.

Animal Declines

This figure from the review by the World Wildlife Fund (2014) shows that, from 1970 to 2010, Earth’s animals declined by 52%.

I have come to believe that nature conservation is the great challenge of our time. Human beings are imposing a mass extinction that will eliminate almost all animals on Earth. We may not be able to stop this, but I believe that the Notebook will be useful for anyone who hasn’t given up and wishes to work to protect Earth’s creatures.

Arizona Species Conservation Status

For this edition of the Notebook, I added more information on conservation.  The table below shows group status for species that AZGFD specialists consider critically imperiled (S1), imperiled (S2), and vulnerable (S3).  It also shows group status according to the Endangered Species Act (ESA) for Threatened (LT) and Endangered (LE) species.  I didn’t include butterflies, moths, damselflies, and dragonflies in this table because the status of most species in those groups is unknown.

Many species that the AZGFD says are critically imperiled are not given national recognition and protection by the U. S. Endangered Species Act (ESA).  It seems that only after species are mostly gone that protection becomes available.  Thus, the ESA achieves very little overall protection from biodiversity loss.


Species Group

Total  minus

Exotic & Extinct







18 (58%)




260 (58%)




40 (100%)




27 (40%)




64 (34%)




35 (46%)




6 (67%)




450 (52%)


The third column shows how many species AZGFD considers at risk.  For instance, all native Arizona fish species are at risk, and about one-third of native Arizona mammals are at risk.  Being “at risk” usually means that numbers are dropping.  The principal causes are construction of buildings and roads, and invasive plants and animals.

Click–Arizona Wildlife Notebook–for a free copy of the 168-page book formatted as a PDF “fillable form.” If you like the book, tell others. Write a review for Amazon: , or Goodreads:  If you would like to review a printed copy of the book, send a note using the form below.  Thank you.

Now that you’ve downloaded the book, you have a conversation-starter for tonight’s warm-up party for World Animal Day!

Arizona Game & Fish Department – Small Game

Get ready! Dove hunting like the good ol’ days!

Other great news for dove hunters

-15 bird daily bag limit
-10 white-winged daily bag limit (early season only)
-45 bird possession limit (respectively)
-All day shooting hours
-Expanded open hunting areas
-New simplified licenses, including $5 youth license

Roosting sites often make for good shooting. Doves will typically pick densely vegetated areas for roosts. Mesquite bosques, tamarisk (salt cedar) thickets, and citrus groves are typical roosting sites. Doves establish flight patterns and follow them.

Sourced through from:

GR:  These pesky birds keep doing well, but shotgun management can solve the problem.  And remember the kids can kill for free.

Upcoming Watchable Wildlife Events by the Arizona Game and Fish Department

Elk Workshop (August)
Arizona Game and Fish and Mormon Lake Lodge will host the elk workshop at Mormon Lake Lodge. Come learn more about Arizona’s largest wildlife species. Free to the public. Flagstaff, Arizona. For more information, contact the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Flagstaff regional office at (928) 774-5045 or visit the Region II Facebook page at Arizona Game and Fish Flagstaff Region.  Sourced through from:

GR:  Provided free by the Arizona Game and Fish Department–these are the BEST opportunities to view Arizona wildlife.  If you appreciate the Department’s efforts and want to give support, you can buy a hunting license.  License fees support the Department.  You could even pay the fee for a chance to be drawn to hunt one of Arizona’s large species, and if you win, you can feel the satisfaction that comes from knowing that you might have saved an animal from being shot and killed.

See on Scoop.itGarryRogers NatCon News

Mercury Contamination of Arizona Fish

#Mercury #Contamination of #Fish in Bartlett Lake, Arizona

Bass - Largemouth

Largemouth Bass

Channel cat

Channel Catfish

Here is another threat to Arizona wildlife. Because it threatens humans, the state government is acknowledging it publicly. According to an email sent this morning by the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD), “the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ), in association with the AZGFD, has issued a fish consumption advisory recommending that people limit consumption of channel catfish and largemouth bass caught from Bartlett Lake [an artificial reservoir on the Verde River] in Maricopa County. ADEQ is issuing this advisory because recent fish tissue samples from Bartlett Lake contained elevated levels of mercury.”

“ADEQ recommends that adults limit consumption of channel catfish and largemouth bass to 2.4 ounces (uncooked weight) per week and children 12 years of age and under limit consumption to two ounces per month (uncooked weight). 
This advisory does not limit the use of this water body for fishing, bird watching, swimming, or other recreational uses. In general, the level of contaminants in fish is several folds higher than levels found in water.”

“Any health risks associated with eating fish from this advisory area are based on long term consumption and are not representative of risk from eating fish occasionally.  Fish are an excellent source of protein and can be an important part of a healthy, diverse diet as they are low in saturated fat and high in omega-3 fatty acids.  The American Heart Association recommends that individuals eat at least two fish or seafood meals weekly.”

Bald-Eagle-And-BabiesGR:  Unfortunately, wildlife eat these mercury-contaminated fish their whole lives. Unlike humans, they can’t “limit their consumption.” Mercury pollution is nothing new in Bartlett Lake or many other streams and lakes in Arizona.  It and the many other pollutants that wash into the State’s waters are helping destroy Arizona wildlife. The Bass and Catfish covered in the advisory are not native Arizona species, but they are often eaten by native amphibians, birds, fish, mammals, snakes, and turtles that live in around the lake. Thus, mercury works its way into the food chain and causes illness and shortened lives. Bald Eagles, for example have mercury in their eggs and tissues (Driscoll et al. 2006).  According to Robin Silver, Southwest Center for Biological Diversity, this mercury contamination is “worrisome.” You could also call it “harmful” or “deadly.”

What is the Origin of Mercury?

Mercury washes into streams and lakes after exposure by floods, mining, and construction.  Some probably comes from roads and urban wastes around and upstream from the lake.  And some comes from power plants in and around Arizona:  “Mercury is one of the most harmful pollutants faced by fish and wildlife. Toxic mercury is released from coal burning power plants across the country and accumulates in rivers, lakes, and forests.” — National Wildlife Federation.

Mercury is just one of many pollutants that humans feed into the Verde River and Bartlett Lake. Worldwide, human wastes are a major cause of wildlife disease and decline.  ADEQ makes little or no effort to regulate the sources of pollutants, but as wildlife declines and extinctions become public knowledge, the agency may have to step up and face the developers and . . . . Well, that’s not going to happen.  Not until private citizens force their political representatives to ignore their donors and future employers and direct the agency to say “enough is enough” without fear of retribution.


  • Driscoll, et al. 2006. Conservation assessment and strategy for the Bald Eagle in Arizona. Tech Rept 173, Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program, AZGFD, Phoenix, AZ, 69 p.
  • ADEQ. 2015. Arizona Fish Consumption Advisories – July 2015. Lists 15 waterbodies of concern.

Endangered and Threatened Arizona Species Qualifying for Endangered-Species-Act Protection

A Small Subset of Arizona’s #EndangeredSpecies

The Arizona Game and Fish Department provided this photo of an endangered ocelot spotted Feb. 8, 2011, in the Huachuca Mountains of southeastern Arizona.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department provided this photo of an endangered ocelot.

Many Arizona species with shrinking populations will never receive protection under the U. S. Endangered Species Act.  Some are doing well outside Arizona, but the principal reason for the absence of protection is that many Arizona species have not been identified. Of those that biologists have identified, most have not been studied in enough detail to know how well they are doing. This tragic lack of data is true of most wild species worldwide.

Click here for lists of some of Arizona’s other endangered species.

According to the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), the list below, updated 02/13/2015,

  • shows listed species or populations believed to or known to occur in Arizona
  • does not include experimental populations and similarity-of-appearance listings.
  • includes species or populations under the sole jurisdiction of the National Marine Fisheries Service.

The list includes 21 plants and 44 animals.  The links for the species scientific names connect to official details for the listing. The linked pages include maps and some photos.  More species photos and other information are found at:  FWS Digital Media Library. However, the best resource for photos is a simple Google Image search.

E = Endangered

T = Threatened

Arizona #Endangered and #Threatened Animals (44)

E Ambersnail, Kanab Entire (Oxyloma haydeni kanabensis)
E Bat, lesser long-nosed Entire (Leptonycteris curasoae yerbabuenae)
E Bobwhite, masked (quail) Entire (Colinus virginianus ridgwayi)
T Catfish, Yaqui Entire (Ictalurus pricei)
E Chub, bonytail Entire (Gila elegans)
E Chub, Gila Entire (Gila intermedia)
E Chub, humpback Entire (Gila cypha)
T Chub, Sonora Entire (Gila ditaenia)
E Chub, Virgin River Entire (Gila seminuda (=robusta))
E Chub, Yaqui Entire (Gila purpurea)
E Condor, California Entire, except where listed as an experimental population (Gymnogyps californianus)
T Cuckoo, yellow-billed Western U.S. DPS (Coccyzus americanus)
E Ferret, black-footed entire population, except where EXPN (Mustela nigripes)
E Flycatcher, southwestern willow Entire (Empidonax traillii extimus)
T Frog, Chiricahua leopard Entire (Rana chiricahuensis)
T gartersnake, northern Mexican  (Thamnophis eques megalops)
E Jaguar U.S.A(AZ,CA,LA,NM,TX),Mexico,Central and South America (Panthera onca)
E Minnow, loach Entire (Tiaroga cobitis)
E Mouse, New Mexico meadow jumping  (Zapus hudsonius luteus)
E Ocelot U.S.A.(AZ, TX) to Central and South America (Leopardus (=Felis) pardalis)
T Owl, Mexican spotted Entire (Strix occidentalis lucida)
E Pikeminnow (=squawfish), Colorado Entire, except EXPN (Ptychocheilus lucius)
E Pronghorn, Sonoran Entire (Antilocapra americana sonoriensis)
E Pupfish, desert Entire (Cyprinodon macularius)
E Rail, Yuma clapper U.S.A. only (Rallus longirostris yumanensis)
T Rattlesnake, New Mexican ridge-nosed Entire (Crotalus willardi obscurus)
E Salamander, Sonora tiger Entire (Ambystoma tigrinum stebbinsi)
T Shiner, beautiful Entire (Cyprinella formosa)
T Snake, narrow-headed garter  (Thamnophis rufipunctatus)
E Spikedace Entire (Meda fulgida)
T Spinedace, Little Colorado Entire (Lepidomeda vittata)
T springsnail, San Bernardino Entire (Pyrgulopsis bernardina)
E Springsnail, Three Forks Entire (Pyrgulopsis trivialis)
E Squirrel, Mount Graham red Entire (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus grahamensis)
E Sucker, razorback Entire (Xyrauchen texanus)
E Sucker, Zuni bluehead  (Catostomus discobolus yarrowi)
E Tern, California least  (Sterna antillarum browni)
E Topminnow, Gila (incl. Yaqui) U.S.A. only (Poeciliopsis occidentalis)
T Tortoise, desert U.S.A., except in Sonoran Desert (Gopherus agassizii)
T Trout, Apache Entire (Oncorhynchus apache)
T Trout, Gila Entire (Oncorhynchus gilae)
E Vole, Hualapai Mexican Entire (Microtus mexicanus hualpaiensis)
E Wolf, Mexican gray Entire, except where an experimental population (Canis lupus baileyi)
E Woundfin Entire, except EXPN (Plagopterus argentissimus)

Arizona Endangered and Threatened Plants (21)

E Blue-star, Kearney’s (Amsonia kearneyana)
E Cactus, Acuna (Echinomastus erectocentrus var. acunensis)
E Cactus, Arizona hedgehog (Echinocereus triglochidiatus var. arizonicus)
E Cactus, Brady pincushion (Pediocactus bradyi)
T Cactus, Cochise pincushion (Coryphantha robbinsiorum)
E Cactus, Fickeisen plains (Pediocactus peeblesianus fickeiseniae)
E Cactus, Nichol’s Turk’s head (Echinocactus horizonthalonius var. nicholii)
E Cactus, Peebles Navajo (Pediocactus peeblesianus var. peeblesianus)
E Cactus, Pima pineapple (Coryphantha scheeri var. robustispina)
T Cactus, Siler pincushion (Pediocactus (=Echinocactus,=Utahia) sileri)
E Cliff-rose, Arizona (Purshia (=Cowania) subintegra)
T Cycladenia, Jones (Cycladenia humilis var. jonesii)
T Fleabane, Zuni (Erigeron rhizomatus)
E Ladies’-tresses, Canelo Hills (Spiranthes delitescens)
E mallow, Gierisch (Sphaeralcea gierischii)
E Milk-vetch, Holmgren (Astragalus holmgreniorum)
E Milk-vetch, Sentry (Astragalus cremnophylax var. cremnophylax)
T Milkweed, Welsh’s (Asclepias welshii)
T Ragwort, San Francisco Peaks (Packera franciscana)
T Sedge, Navajo (Carex specuicola)
E Water-umbel, Huachuca (Lilaeopsis schaffneriana var. recurva)

Arizona #Endangered Species: River Otters

From Smithsonian

Credit: painting by Consie Powell from Kays and Wilson’s Mammals of North America, © Princeton University Press (2002)

The North American River Otter (Lontra Canadensis) is a dark brown, long-bodied, web-footed, big-whiskered mammal weighing between 10 and 30 pounds. Otters live in burrows beside streams, lakes, swamps, and ponds.  They are superb fishermen, but they also hunt frogs, turtles, crayfish, small mammals, and birds.


Like other predators, Otters help control the numbers of their prey species. They happily take introduced alien species along with natives. In a few instances, people have complained that River Otters might be eating trout introduced to Arizona waters for sport fishing.

Otter, Northern River

Otters often eat and sleep floating on their backs. In the picture, a mother is holding her big-nosed child on her stomach.


tracksRiver Otters live where there is permanent food and water. They prefer riparian communities dominated by willows, cottonwoods, birches, and spruce, cattails, red-osier dogwood, black hawthorn, common snowberry, grasses, horsetails, bulrushes, and sedges (Tesky, 1993).


River Otters lived throughout Arizona. Unfortunately, their thick fur made them a favorite of 19th Century fur trappers. It takes 20 to 30 otters to make a fur coat. By 1900, most of the Otters were gone and the fur coats had worn out. During the 20th Century, water pollution and stream diversion for irrigation, flood control, and recreation eliminated most of the best habitat. Today there are few if any Otters left in the State. Ponds and pools along the Agua Fria River near my home in central Arizona might be  suitable for otters, but it is unlikely that any live here.

The State of Arizona Game and Fish Department conservation status ranking for otters and many other wildlife species is included in the species checklists on this website.

Bringing Otters back to Arizona:  Reservoir Dreams

Returning Otters to Arizona would be difficult. Otters are sensitive to water pollution, and could not survive in many of the State’s streams and lakes. Moreover, the banks of irrigation canals and reservoirs aren’t suitable for Otter burrows. We can imagine that we might set aside one of our reservoirs for Otters. Stocked with native fish, protected from pollution and recreation, and planted with preferred vegetation, Otters brought to the reservoir from other locations might set up a colony and the species might once again live in Arizona.

The header image is from Animal Photos.


  • Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD).  List of “nongame” species includes bats:
  • Arizona Game and Fish Department. 1995 (Second Draft). Animal Abstracts Lontra Canadensis sonora. PDF. Unpublished abstract compiled and edited by the Heritage Data Management System, Arizona Game and Fish Department, Phoenix, AZ. PDF.
  • Hoffmeister, D.F. 1986. Mammals of Arizona. The University of Arizona Press. Tucson. Pp. 515-517.
  • Jones, et al. 1987. North American Mammals North of Mexico. Texas Tech Univ.
  • Kays, R.W., and D.E. Wilson.  2009.  Mammals of North America (second edition).  Princeton Univ Press, Princeton, NJ.  248 p.
  • National Wildlife Federation:
  • NatureServe.
  • Navajo Nation Fish and Wildlife Department. 2000. Navajo Endangered Species List. Navajo Nation Fish and Wildlife Department. 2005. Navajo Endangered Species List. P. 2.
  • Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History:
  • Tesky, J.L. 1993. Lutra canadensis. In U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station Sciences Laboratory (2002, September). Fire Effects Information System,
  • Endangered Species Act.  1973. The act and related laws discussed at:
  • U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service:
  • USDA, Forest Service Region 3. 1999. Regional Forester’s Sensitive Species List. The latest update (2007) does not list the River Otter.

I am beginning a series of short articles about the state’s endangered species. For  species that the Department considers Critically Imperiled (S1), Imperiled (S2), or Vulnerable to Extinction (S3).  Please send me your comments and suggestions or bring them to a meeting. The inaugural meeting is at 10:00 am, August 15, 2015, at the Dewey-Humboldt Historical Society Museum on Main Street in Humboldt.

Save Wildlife: Apply for a Hunting Permit

Arizona Wildlife Protection:  Gambling for Big Game

Young Mule Deer

Young Mule Deer

I am not a gambler, but as I watched five Mule Deer browsing in my yard this morning I decided to enter the Arizona Game and Fish Department drawing to win a deer hunting permit.  If I win, I will have blocked a real killer.  (The header image is from the Arizona Game and Fish Department website.)

You can enter drawings for Bighorn Sheep, Buffalo, Deer, Javelina, Pheasant, and Turkey.  Click here to enter.  Fees vary depending on your location and the species you are protecting.  For Arizona residents, the hunting license and the drawing entry fee total $50.  If you win, the toe tag will cost an extra $45.

The drawings for Elk and Pronghorn Antelope took place last month (25,932 killing permits issued).  There are a few Elk tags left.  If this is your special animal, click here to buy a chance to save one.

Arizona Wildlife Management

Some will argue that killing wild animals is necessary to prevent habitat-destroying population explosions.  Others will say that restoring and protecting habitat, removing domestic livestock, and protecting large predators will achieve natural populations and increase overall biodiversity.  Of course, selling licenses is big business; the Arizona Game and Fish Department, like many other governmental wildlife management agencies, depends on license sales for a substantial part of its annual budget.  Search my website for “Hunting,” “Livestock,” and “Predators” to find discussions and reports related to these subjects.

Here’s a tweet suggestion (you should have room to add a photo):

Protect wildlife: Apply for a big-game permit and keep a killer out of the woods.

If you decide to take a chance, you can let us know in a comment.  If you don’t want to publicize your gambling sins, send me a private email.

Protect Native Plants and the Wildlife They Support

HB2570 municipalities; vegetation requirements; prohibition (Mitchell) prohibits cities from requiring native plant salvage and also from requiring the planting of native vegetation.

There are many reasons this is a bad idea. Encouraging the salvage and planting of native plants can help save water and ensure more resiliency in the vegetation. Some non-native plants contribute to public health problems, such as severe allergies. Limiting these plants is an important goal of local communities. Further, it is critical that non-native invasive plants be limited as these can cause harm to neighbors’ private property and to our parks and wildlands, plus harm agriculture, wildlife, and more by spreading to create unnatural fire conditions and out competing native plants.

Please modify and send the message below and ask your representatives to oppose this ill-conceived bill to limit local communities’ ability to protect native plants. . . . Source:

GR:  Ignoring the effects of a development would make it cheaper to destroy native habitats. Of course, developers want that.  I doubt the savings would amount to much for individuals that use the developments, but the cost in natural vegetation and wildlife will be a lasting expense that we will all feel.

Game and Fish increases pronghorn population with killings of coyotes

More than 800 coyotes were killed at the direction of the Arizona Game and Fish Department from 2012 to 2014 for the purpose of protecting pronghorn fawns in five areas around the state, agency officials say.  Source:

GR:  The Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) lets people kill Pronghorn Antelope for the money.  Antelope have declined drastically from their original range.  However, AZGFD continues to sell Antelope hunting licenses for $103 ($565 non-residents).

“Annual harvests since 1990 have varied between 500 and 700 bucks, with archers taking a proportionally larger percent of the harvest in recent years. Plagued by encroaching subdivisions, increasing highway construction, and other land-use changes, maintaining even the present number of antelope is dependent on citizen involvement and an aggressive translocation program. Approximately 10 percent of the antelope harvest is in areas having reintroduced herds.”

The AZGFD can’t do much about construction and land-use, but they could stop selling hunting licenses.  They might have to cut salaries and layoff a few of their wildlife-control staff.  But then they wouldn’t have to kill the coyotes.

Even more appropriate in these times of rapidly disappearing wildlife, would be to stop all hunting and call on the people of Arizona to fund the 25% of the AZGFD budget that comes from hunting licenses.



Arizona projects picked for major conservation effort

AgriPulse:  “WASHINGTON, Jan. 14, 2015 – More than 100 conservation projects for protecting water quality, restoring critical wildlife habitat, and addressing other environmental challenges will get federal matching funds under a groundbreaking program authorized by the new farm bill.

“The 115 projects, which include one aimed at preventing another of the Lake Erie toxic algae blooms that plagued Toledo, Ohio, last summer, will share $370 million in federal money, to be matched with $400 million worth of contributions from outside groups, universities and state and local governments.

Verde River“Projects in three sites in Arizona will aim to save water, repair habitat, and increase the ailing flow of the Verde and Colorado Rivers as part of a federal program sparked by the 2014 Farm Bill.  (Arizona projects picked for major conservation effort.)

“We’re giving private companies, local communities, and other non-government partners a way to invest in a new era in conservation that ultimately benefits us all,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said. Vilsack announced the project awards near Phoenix, where one of the projects is designed to help restore habitat for fish and wildlife along the Verde River, a tributary of the Colorado” (Agri-Pulse).

“This is an entirely new approach to conservation efforts,” said Vilsack. “These partnerships empower communities to set priorities and lead the way on conservation efforts important for their region. They also encourage private sector investment so we can make an impact that’s well beyond what the Federal government could accomplish on its own. We’re giving private companies, local communities, and other non-government partners a way to invest in a new era in conservation that ultimately benefits us all. These efforts keep our land resilient and water clean, and promote economic growth in agriculture, construction, tourism, outdoor recreation, and other industries” (USDA).