Fires should not have huge effect on hunting season
Arizona Game and Fish Department reports the Wallow Fire in eastern Arizona is the worst on record with about 400,000 acres burned.
Two other major wildfires are also burning in Arizona: the Horseshoe Two Fire that has consumed more than 125,000 acres in the southeast part of the state and the Murphy Fire burning more than 65,000 acres in the southern part of the state. Arizona is extremely dry and is at high risk of other wildfires until summer monsoon rains arrive.
Game and Fish extends their thoughts and sympathies to the residents of communities that have been so significantly impacted by these fires and their heartfelt thanks go to the firefighters and support personnel who are diligently working to bring these fires under control. More than 30 Game and Fish wildlife officers have been and still are working with the incident management teams and local law enforcement in support of the firefighting efforts.
A web page, www.azgfd.gov/wildfires, has been put together to answer questions from hunters, anglers, wildlife watchers and other outdoor recreationists about what impact the fires will have on wildlife, hunting, fishing and outdoor opportunities in those areas with new and updated information continuing to be added to this web page as it becomes available.
It is important to note that each of the wildlife species affected by these fires have their own set of survival techniques. Larger, more mobile animals will simply move out of the path of a fire, birds will obviously fly away and many smaller mammals and reptiles will burrow underground or seek shelter in rock dens. Research has shown that burrowing even six inches will protect animals from fires reaching up to 3,000 degrees above ground. While it’s impossible to determine how many animals will survive the fires and how many have been lost, records of past fires show that wildlife mortality is substantially lower than one might imagine. As soon as it is appropriate and in full cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service, the Arizona Game and Fish Department will be using the tools at their disposal to assess the fires’ impacts to wildlife, as well as any immediate actions that can be taken to assist surviving animals.
Game Management Units affected by the Wallow Fire are Units 1 and 27 and portions of Unit 30A. Popular hunts in these areas include mule deer, white-tailed deer, javelina and small game. Game Management Units affected by the Horseshoe Two fire are primarily Unit 29 and portions of Unit 30A. Affected by the Murphy Fire are Units 36A, 36B and 36C.
Many hunters might immediately come to the conclusion that their hunts in the fire areas are now ruined due to the fires, out of the perceptions that there will be reduced numbers of game, limited or no access, that the forest is completely burned or that the overall hunting experience is compromised. Although some hunts will undoubtedly be affected, they might not necessarily be as severe as perceived. For example, after the Rodeo-Chediski Fire, surveys in the unit showed no evidence of any large migration of elk or deer out of the burn area. With the onset of the monsoon, it is anticipated that a significant portion of Units 1 and 27 will have adequate forage and that elk will be well distributed prior to the hunts.
Access to fishing areas affected by the fires will be closed until the Wallow Fire is secured and the Forest Service clears standing burned trees adjacent to the roadways and determines there are minimal public safety concerns. After the fire is contained, the department expects access to certain affected lakes soon to be opened. Expect, however, these closures to be in effect for the remaining waters for the majority of the summer and into this fall. Check the web page for complete information on lakes affected by the fires.
Displaced wildlife, especially larger mammals, moving into areas adjacent to the fires will compete for available food and water and often result in animals moving into communities and subdivisions and into conflict with people. Officials request that people simply DO NOT FEED displaced wildlife. Do not pick up, capture or attempt to rescue “orphaned” young wildlife — it is far better to leave them in the wild. If there is a special need for an animal to be picked up, contact either the Pinetop regional office at (928) 367-4281 or the Tucson regional office at (520) 628-5376 depending on the area you’re in. After 5 p.m. call the Department’s Radio Room at (623) 236-7201. A mobile wildlife treatment and rehabilitation center will be established soon to tend to injured or orphaned wildlife resulting from the fires.
For Hunt Happenings, Fish Findings and Shooting Sports, check out yumasun.com.
• Low elk mortality expected in Arizona wildlife: To answer a question from concerned citizens about emergency feeding for elk that survive the blaze,The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation says elk mortality from wildfire is typically low, making supplemental feeding unnecessary. “Elk are extremely mobile and adaptable. In a fire event, they simply get out of the way and move to other areas with adequate food, water and cover,: said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO.” “We’ve seen elk return to burned areas very quickly, sometimes within days. Fire releases nutrients and rejuvenates decadent grasses and forbs. Burns are usually quite fertile and when they begin to green up, elk really prosper.”
• Yuma Valley Rod and Gun Club: The summer Fun Auction will be held July 6 at the monthly dinner meeting at 7 p.m. at American Legion Hall, 2575 Virginia Dr. with items provided by club members, who are urged to clean out the closets and bring all unwanted usable items for this fundraiser with Larry Smart 210-1794 — everything from soup to nuts is welcome. Remember, “One person’s junk is another person’s treasure.” Everyone interested in hunting, fishing and the outdoors is most welcome. The Combo Bass/Catfish Derby will follow July 9 — call Billy Morgan at 210-2478 to sign up.
• Desert Bass Anglers: Get in on the July 9 Team Tournament launching out of Fisher’s Landing — call Mac or Bobbi McDermott at 726-1984.
• Wednesday Jackpot Derby: Sign up with $5 Tuesdays at Fisher’s Landing Bar to fish (any species) 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday with weigh-in at Fisher’s Gas Dock. Fish the $10 Monthly Swede Ferguson Memorial Bass Derby with the winner decided the last day of the month — big bass takes all. Weigh-in at Fisher’s Gas Stop. Call Jimmy Phipps at 919-0376.
• Yuma Pro Am: Visit YumaProAm.com for latest information on fishing techniques with the next Team Tournament set for July 24 with sign-up at Sportsmen’s Hideaway July 18-23. Call Bob La Londe at 580-1270.
• Goin’ Fish’n Productions: Get in on the Bass Class on the Water with Dave Willhide at 782-2621 to learn when, where and how to catch bass like the pros in all seasons and conditions, with instruction on rigging and selection of gear and lures and with a fully rigged bass boat and all gear provided.
• Firearms programs for Yuma youngsters: To take advantage of 4-H air rifle, archery, muzzleloader, .22 cal. rifle and shotgun with a new season beginning in September, call Stanley Gourley at 344-0740. For information on shooting firearms with the Boy Scouts Venture Program, open to both boys and girls, call the scout office at 782-1896. Call coach Franco at 246-7257 for information on shooting with Yuma’s Young Guns. For the Scholastic Clay Target Program open to interested youngsters, call Yuma Trap and Skeet Club’s John Gross at 329-0960 or the Yuma office of Game and Fish at 342-0091.
• Renegade Archers of Yuma: All archers are invited to shoot the trail of 3D animals at 7:30 a.m. Sundays at the Foothills Archery Range — call me at 247-4450 for directions. The adult shoot fee is $5 ($3 once the annual $20 range fee is paid) with youngsters always free of charge. Great practice for bow hunting and fun recreation for the whole family. Shooting equipment is available upon request.
• Southwest Bowhunters: Archery shoots at 8 a.m. Sundays at Adair Park with the practice range open for use all week. Call Wayne Wittenberg at 314-0140.
• Yuma Trap and Skeet Club: Open trap and skeet 8 a.m. to noon Saturdays and Sundays at the Adair Park range. Call Gary Knight at 210-0805 or John Gross at 329-0960.
• Yuma Territorial Longrifles Club: Open black powder matches at 8:30 a.m. 1st and 3rd Saturdays at Adair Park with the monthly meeting preceding shooting on the 1st Saturday. Call Dennis Hansel at 342-7573.
• Cholla Gun Club: Open .22 rifle and pistol Fun Matches at 8:30 a.m. Fridays at the Adair Park metallic silhouette range. Call Rick or Glenda at 502-0736.
• Yuma Rifle and Pistol Club: 800 Aggregate High-Power Across the Course Match with sign-up by 7 a.m. today (Sunday) at the Adair Park big bore range, open to civilian, service, women, men and junior shooters. Call Paul Lerma at 783-6766.
• Yuma Matchmasters: Open Cowboy Match June 26 at the Adair Park small bore range with sign-up at 6:30 a.m. Call Ron Gissendaner at 726-0022.