Arizona Voices: AZGFD is the leader in science-based wildlife management | Columnists


“The Arizona Department of Game and Fisheries is one of the top wildlife conservation organizations in the country.”

These are not my words, although I totally agree. As a member of the Arizona Game and Fish Commission for four years, it seems that no matter where my travels take me or whoever I meet along the way, people keep telling me what I know. already for a long time.

As the new Commission Chairman, I want more Arizonans to understand and appreciate who they are working on their behalf as experts in scientific wildlife management, especially with respect to the regulatory process that ensures that any wildlife is held in public. Trust — the first principle of the North American model of wildlife conservation, founded by hunters and conservationists over 100 years ago.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) follows a multi-tiered process to define hunting season structures, hunting season dates, hunting license allocations and other control elements to regulate the game hunting. The Department’s Big and Small Game Hunting Programs are responsible for this task, and their mission is to protect and manage game populations and their habitats to provide wildlife-based recreational opportunities for current and future generations. .

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This process begins with hunting guidelines, which are reviewed every five years — and not without the encouraged and valued input of the public — for approval by the Commission. These guidelines provide the biological and social parameters that make up the “recipes” used by wildlife managers to formulate the annual hunting recommendations (season dates, hunting permits-assigned tags, etc.) in which hunters participate. The Commission then approves the guidelines at its public meetings.

With the guidelines in place and the survey data in hand, wildlife managers and game specialists propose the hunting license and tag allocations on a unit-by-unit basis, resulting in the proposed hunting recommendations. After the public consultation periods, and once approved by the Commission, the recommendations are incorporated into the hunting regulations.

All this is not a simple task. In this latest review process, 24 team members have dedicated a minimum of 3,000 hours to gather the best available scientific data from 195 staff members – all of whom have joined the Department over the years with the required degrees. bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degree in biology, wildlife management or forest-related expertise. That’s enough skill, knowledge and professionalism to reach from my home in Payson to the top of the Mogollon Rim.

I am simply impressed with what our people are doing, especially considering how the AZGFD conserves and protects Arizona’s 800+ wildlife species, while receiving no general state tax funds. . That’s right, not a penny for on-the-ground conservation efforts. It is important to know that the Department is primarily funded by the discretionary spending of outdoor enthusiasts who purchase hunting and fishing licenses, hunting license tags, firearms, ammunition, archery equipment the bow and much more.

The AZGFD is responsible for conserving and protecting all wildlife in Arizona, whether hunted or not. Unfortunately, wildlife agencies across the West – including ours – are challenged by special interest groups who oppose the practice of hunting. For the record, the Department supports and promotes the concept of fair hunting, which is defined as the ethical, sporting and legal pursuit and taking of all wild game in a manner that does not give the hunter an undue or unfair advantage. on game.

Arizona’s hunters and anglers – and I proudly count myself among them – are a passionate and committed constituency. With the future of their centuries-old traditions at stake, it is more crucial than ever to show support for the AZGFD and the people who are the leading experts in managing our wildlife resources.

James E. Goughnour de Payson is chairman of the Arizona Game and Fish Commission.

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