Archive for September, 2009

A Good Antler Growing Year

Posted by on Tuesday, 29 September, 2009

Earlier in the year, some folks were predicting that it would be a good year for antler growth, based on a wet spring and good feed. Having now been out bowhunting, I have the following observations for Southern Utah and Northern Arizona:

  • Most of the yearling bucks have antlers much larger than normal.
  • There are not as many yearling bucks as in the previous few years.
  • Mature bucks have heavy antlers except for finishing off the back tines.
  • The majority of bucks are in the 3-5 year-old class
  • There are a larger than usual number of 20-27″ typical four-point bucks

Wolves on the Attack in Wyoming

Posted by on Friday, 25 September, 2009

The following story was emailed to me. I consider the source reliable and the pictures substantiate the story. What does this have to do with Mule Deer? I’ll let you figure that out. The author was apparently in Wyoming where wolves are having a hey day on game animals.


I had one heck of an experience this past Friday. I was walking into an area I spotted 5 bulls last weekend when wolves started howling, growling and snarling about 300 yds away in the timber below me. It was just getting light so, I hung out for a while hoping to get a look at the wolves. Nothing appeared so, thinking that there were probably no elk in this spot, I headed back to the truck. I unloaded the ATV and was headed to an area called the “Natural Corral” on Bald Ridge.

About ½ mile down the dirt road I came upon a herd of cattle running around in a circle and making all sorts of sounds. The herd parted and 2 wolves popped out to look at me. Just beyond the two was another wolf on the hind end of a cow pulling a chunk of flesh from the cow that was still alive. The two wolves ran to my right and stopped about 50 yds away.

The wolf on the cow jumped off and stood on the road. I charged him with the ATV and he ran to my right and stopped 25 yds. away. I had my .44 mag and could have popped him, but knowing the penalty for killing a wolf, I pulled out the camera instead and took a picture of him while he was running away. It’s a grueling sight to see an animal being eaten alive.

I called 911 to get the local Game Warden, Chris Queen. He called back and was heading to the spot after he finished loading hay. I asked if I should put the cow down since it was still alive. He knew the owner of the herd and said not to finish it since the owner was particular about killing his cattle.

Chris called Mark Brucino, USF&W biologist that handles wolves and grizzlies in the area. Mark called me back to say he was on the way. I told him that I was heading back out to look for elk and would be back later.

The wolves starting to attack the herd again further down the road behind me. I took off down the road, but the wolves were gone. I got back to elk hunting and spotted 3 groups of cows, calves and spike bulls totaling 41. A plane appeared and was flying transect patterns. I knew it must be FWS people. The elk didn’t care for the plane and slowly head back into cover. This was not working for elk hunting so I twisted off the hunt and headed back to the truck. At the kill site I met Mark and an agent with USDA Wildlife Services (formerly Animal Damages Board), Monty Nicholson. Mark said they were trying to pick up any signals from collared wolves. None of the wolves I saw had collars. After explaining my account of the situation and a description of the wolves they made a decision to call in a chopper and hunt them down. The chopper came in and Monty jumped in with a 12 gauge and #4 Buckshot, his standard load for killing wolves and coyotes from a chopper.

Monty had explained that the area I was in is the border for 3 wolf packs; Sunlight Basin, Absaroka and Clark’s Fork. He believes these 3 wolves are lead by a older male wolf that walks with a limp. Because of the injury the older wolf cannot compete with stronger wolves for females and is leading the 3 younger males. The older wolf has a radio collar, however the plane did not pick up the signal.

Soon the rancher and trail riders arrived. Mark wrote out a ticket for the rancher to get reimbursed “7 to 1″ meaning he will get paid 7 times the cost of the 2 yr. old cow. It is based on the assumption that the cow would be able to produce 7 calves during the life span. Of course the money comes from the State even though the Feds brought the wolves into WY and now we have to deal with the mess.

What was the cost of this one situation?

– Time for 1 DOI FWS biologist

– Time for 1 USDA Wildlife Services agent

– Time for 1 WY Game Warden

– Flight time for 1 surveillance plane

– Flight time for 1 chopper

– Payment for 1 cow (.85/lb x 1000 lbs x 7 = $5,950)

So much for wolf management in WY. I could have helped out for the low, low price of one .44 mag round. At least I could have taken care of ¼ of the pack!


Story submitted by Paul Baxter

Lions cannot kill Bighorn Sheep just Mule Deer

Posted by on Wednesday, 16 September, 2009

The following quote demonstrates to me that the USFWS is more anti-sportsman than pro and is an agency with far too much power over state wildlife agencies.  State wildlife agencies have their issues as well, but provided that a state agency wishes to serve the sportsmen that fund them, they must still cope with the USFWS.

We need to stop lions from killing mule deer as much as we need to stop them from killing big horn sheep. At present lions are killing over ten times as many mule deer as hunters are annually.


On Friday, TOMORROW,  August 7 the Arizona Game & Fish Commission will consider extending the Kofa lion removal moratorium which ended July 31.  It is critical to the survival of the Kofa herd that the moratorium  NOT BE EXTENDED.

According to information provided by the Az. Game & Fish Department (AZGFD) the Kofa desert bighorn sheep population declined from 800 sheep in 2000 to 390 sheep in 2006.  Predation by mountain lions  was found to be one of the causal factors in the decline.

Based upon that report the AZGFD developed a variety of action plans to address the identified issues, including a mountain lion predation management plan.  As part of the predation management plan, two mountain lions that were trapped on the refuge were lethally removed and the USFWS was immediately challenged for allowing these activities to occur prior to completion of an Environmental Analysis (EA).

At the request of USFWS, the Department agreed to a one year Moratorium on lethal removal of lions captured on the refuge.

On April 23, 2008, the USFWS released a scoping letter to gather input prior to completing the EA.

In 2008, at the request of Arizona Sportsmen for Wildlife, the Arizona Legislature sent a House Concurrent Memorial to Congress on this very issue. The Legislature asked Congress to “take immediate action to reaffirm the Arizona Game & Fish Department’s position as the leading agency in the management of non-migratory and non-endangered state wildlife”   and that the AZGFD be allowed to “employ, without any unnecessary delays, burdens or obstacles, all management tools and measures necessary to recover the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge desert bighorn sheep population, including the management of predators, water developments, human intervention and the potential for disease epizootics. To date, no action has been taken by Congress and USFWS has done nothing to facilitate or otherwise allow AZGFD to manage its wildlife in the Kofa.

On April 18, 2009 the USFWS requested an additional extension of the Moratorium indicating they needed more time to complete the EA. The Commission extended the Moratorium for 90 days and that moratorium  ended on July 31, 2009.

Today,  while the USFWS has printed its findings from the EA in the Federal Register, it is highly unlikely that a final decision will be made before March 2010 and mountain lions  will continue to kill sheep on the Kofa.  At last report one of the offending lions known as KMO4 has killed 14 sheep, averaging one sheep every ten days.   And KMO4 is not the only offending lion on the Kofa.  The Department’s Timeline shows that sheep have been taken by more than one other offending lion on the Kofa.

According to an article in the Arizona Republic, Representative Daniel Patterson (D-Dist 29, Tucson) does not want the AZGFD to shoot lions until the federal government finishes an environmental study on the issue early next year as requested by USFWS.  AZSFW does not agree with Representative Patterson as the facts of offending lion, KMO4, speak for themselves.

Rep. Patterson was formerly affiliated with the Southwest Center for Biological Diversity and is reported to be the Ecologist and Southwest Director for Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility since 2006.

It is time for the Commission to say “No More Time” and direct the Department to lethally remove the offending lion as soon as possible.  It is the responsible thing to do.

Please call or write members of the Commission and ask them to support AZSFW’s request to lethally remove the offending lion and tell USFWS no more moratoriums.  The Kofa desert bighorn sheep herd can no longer afford to be held hostage to bureaucratic inefficiencies.

Pete Cimellaro
AZSFW Board Member

Loose Lion

Posted by on Tuesday, 1 September, 2009

When you see a lion, you know there are too many. This story comes from Washington and is a sample of a situation that is growing more and more common. Why is it so, you ask? Some say we are  encroaching on lion territory. We have always done that. I say it is because there are too many lions.

One less lion, many more deer

One less lion, many more deer


Sightings of a cougar in Beaver Brook and the west side of Barrhead are more a cause for caution than alarm, wildlife officials say.

Derek Brendzan, a Barrhead District Fish and Wildlife officer, said drainages on the west side of town that lead into the Paddle River are used as highways for predators to follow their prey. In recent years, a large number of mule deer have been migrating along a north-south corridor that stretches along the west side of town through Beaver Brook.

A cougar may have moved in to feed on these deer, he said.

To date, Barrhead District Fish and Wildlife has received about four cougar sightings. Some of the descriptions can fit either a cougar or a coyote, Brendzan said. Wildlife officers have not been able to confirm the presence of a cougar or a cougar’s kill, but Brendzan would not be surprised if one of the animals was in the area.

Town staff recently installed signs along the west side of town alerting people to the sightings and providing safety tips.

Brendzan emphasized that people should not be overly concerned but should exercise caution in the area, especially in the early morning and at dusk, as the animals are nocturnal.

Fish and Wildlife will continue to monitor any sightings.

“As long as it’s doing its thing, we leave it alone,” Brendzan said. “If it comes to the point that it starts impacting people or property, then we come along and remove it.”

Beaver Brook resident Theresa Cherwonka was walking to the health club at about 7:00 a.m. two weeks ago. While she was on a path behind the Champion Feed Services building, a truck backfired and a large animal dashed across the path.

“At first I thought it was a coyote, but no – it didn’t have the head of a coyote. It had the head of a cat,” she said.

Cherwonka described the animal as being about “15 inches deep and six to seven feet long (outstretched) as it leaped, with an orangy-brown colour.”

The sighting unnerved her and she took a different route home, where she called Fish and Wildlife to make a report.

Cougar sightings are very rare. They can sometimes cause alarm in a community because they are “large carnivores that we are not used to,” Brendzan said. Brendzan has spotted only two cougars in the wild in his 10 years with Fish and Wildlife.

Attacks on people are far rarer. Citing a 2006 study by the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, Brendzan said North America has seen fewer than 12 human deaths by cougar attacks in the 100 years prior to the study. By comparison, the study said about one death a year occurs in the United States from domestic dog attacks.

If a cougar is in fact in the area, Brendzan said the mule deer will most likely leave once several have been taken. The cougar will then probably follow its prey out of the town as well, he added.

Pamphlets with safety tips and information on cougars are available at the Fish and Wildlife Office, the Town Office and the County Office. Any sightings of cougars or possible cougar kills can be reported to the Barrhead Fish and Wildlife Office at 780-674-8236.