Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Mexican gray wolves return to the wild

If the plan by Mexican wildlife officials stays on track, wildlife watchers may soon be able to spot Mexican gray wolves in Arizona and New Mexico.

Officials plan to release five wolves in the Sierra San Luis range, which extends from about 85 miles south of the Arizona/Mexico border to within 25 miles of the border. Wolves are known to travel as much as 80 miles a week, and could eventually connect with wolves at the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area in northeastern Arizona and northwestern new Mexico.

Mexican officials and conservationists have long planned to reintroduce Mexican gray wolves to their original range. The last known wild wolves were trapped in the 1970s as part of an effort to save the subspecies of gray wolves. A captive breeding program was established, and now more than 300 wolves live in 40 U.S. and Mexican facilities.

The United States released 11 animals from the endangered gray wolf subspecies into the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area in 1998. The goal was that natural reproduction and reintroduction would bring the population to 100 in a few years.

The first wild pups were born in 2002, but continuing difficulties have meant that the wolves have struggled to maintain their population. On Friday, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that its annual wolf census found 42 animals on the ground at the end of 2009, compared to 52 at the end of 2008. It was the lowest number in seven years.

They're largely prohibited from leaving the confines of the Blue Range area. If seen outside the range, and between an area bordered by Interstate 40 to the north and Interstate 10 to the south, they are to be returned to the Blue Range.

Perhaps just as worrisome for the wolf project, at least two of eight wolves whose carcasses were found last year had been shot, meaning apparent poaching of the wolves, a problem Federal officials are investigating.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Geo-Cache Treasure Hunt coming to Cattail Cove State Park

Cattail Cove State Park will hosts its 4th Annual "Geo-Cache Bash" from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 20.

The "Geo-Cache Bash" begins with a brief history about Global Positioning System (GPS). How GPS was conceived and the etiquette that goes along with the sport will be discussed. To participate, attendees should bring their GPS unit with them and have a basic understanding of how their GPS unit works.

Afterward, attendees can choose to search for more than a dozen geo-cache sites. There will be hidden caches on various trails for hikers, along with several sites along the shoreline, and even a couple of sites dedicated to those who are wheelchair bound.

Geo-caching began in 2000 after the Defense Department stopped scrambling the signals beamed to GPS receivers from military satellites, making it easier for recreational users to find specific locations. It has since grown in popularity for both families and corporate groups. "Geo" for geography and "cache" for hidden stash provides a fun opportunity to enjoy and explore the outdoors using a (GPS) receiver.

The park encourages responsible Geo Caching practices in all natural settings, including limiting graffiti, digging, trash, illegal off road vehicle use, vandalism, or caches near archeological sites or commercial use.

For more information call Cattail Cove State Park at (928) 855-1223 or visit AZStateParks.com. Cattail Cove State Park is located on State Route 95, 15 miles south of Lake Havasu City, Arizona. Campsites with electricity are available for $26 a night. The beach, boat ramp and campsites offer a broad spectrum of activities for all to enjoy including swimming, fishing, or just lounging around and relaxing.

Please call ahead to find out the latest information about the State Parks by calling (602) 542-4174 (outside of the Phoenix metro area call toll-free (800) 285-3703) or visit AZStateParks.com. Follow us on twitter.com/AZStateParks.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Arizona RV park snowbirds staying longer

If you haven't yet arrived in Arizona for this year's snowbird season, it is likely you won't make it. However, if after watching the chaotic weather that is now plaguing the mid-west and Canada and you are thinking about extending your stay to avoid the winter furies, don't wait too long to extend your reservation.

The Arizona Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds says that Arizona’s recreational vehicle parks have seen greater numbers than last year, with parks up between ten and 30 percent.

And many of these snowbirds are now extending their stay into March and April.

If the winter weather remains bad--except in Arizona, of course--you may find that the RV Resorts will stay full, with RVers snatching up those campsites where the reservation doesn't extend beyond February. You might not want to stay indecisive for too long, or you may find yourself out in the cold.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Arizona lawmakers want to expand citizens' rights to carry guns

Arizona has always held tightly to its legacy as part of the Wild West and a protector of individual rights.

This year, the state's Republican governor and a conservative legislature have proposed more than a dozen bills to expand rights to carry and use guns and knives. According to the Arizona Republic, proposed laws would allow people to carry concealed weapons without a permit, end requirements that guns manufactured and kept in Arizona be registered, and allow university professors to carry guns on school grounds.

Although the Arizona Republic notes that the number of bills on the subject is not unusual, weapons-rights supporters believe this year -- with a conservative governor, a Legislature sympathetic to their cause and more freedom to address issues other than the budget - may be their year to lift many limits. It also is an election year, and gun rights have always been a popular campaign platform among conservatives.

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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

100 attend Capitol rally for state parks

Waving signs admonishing lawmakers for sweeping state park funds into the general fund to meet budget shortages, more than 100 protesters turned out for the rally at the Capitol Mall on Monday. The parks budget dropped from $26 million in January 2009 to $7.5 million.

Speakers at the rally said further park closures would bring severe economic harm to rural areas that rely on tourism, and an estimated $260 million in revenues to state and local governments. Last month, after the budget cuts from the Legislature, the Arizona State Parks Board voted to close thrteen more parks by the end of June. Eight other parks either are closed already, were transferred to outside control, or are being kept open through an outside funding source.

Other speakers advocated the House Bill 2628 that would create a dedicated funding stream for state parks through vehicle license fees. In exchange for paying the fee, Arizona motorists would get free admission to any state park. The bill has not yet been scheduled for a hearing.