Times Spent Outdoors: Priceless!

Arizona - Amended Article 3 Rules Affecting Hunters Take Effect July 1

Hunters and other members of the public are advised that amendments to the Arizona Game and Fish Commission's Article 3 rules (governing the taking and handling of wildlife) will take effect July 1, 2013. The amendments address such topics as using bait to take game, importation of cervid carcasses into Arizona, use of pneumatic weapons for hunting, and other topics.

These amendments were developed during the rules review process that included a public comment period, and they incorporate recently passed legislation. The Commission's Notice of Final Rulemaking on the amendments was recently approved by the Governor's Regulatory Review Council.

Below is a brief overview of the changes. To view a full copy of the amended Article 3 rules, click here.

The following substantive amendments were made to increase hunter opportunity:

Allow the use of pre-charged pneumatic weapons for the take of all big game, except turkey, elk and buffalo;

Removed shotgun gauge restrictions, except for migratory birds;

Lowered the standard draw weight on bows from 40 pounds to 30 pounds for all big game, except buffalo and elk which was lowered to 40 pounds*;

Allow the use of a crossbow for take of big game for all general big game seasons*;

Allow bows drawn and held with assisting device during general big game hunts*;

Allow the use of shotguns shooting shot for the take of mountain lions*;

Clarifies the use of dogs for hunting cottontails, upland game birds, Eurasian collared-doves, migratory birds, predators, and furbearers*;

Allow use of pneumatic weapons for the take of upland game birds and Eurasian collared-doves*;

Allow use of handheld projectiles for the take of cottontails, tree squirrels, upland game birds*;

Allow persons to participate in an AZGFD-sponsored introductory hunting event without having to possess a hunting license;

Allow pneumatic weapons for the take of bullfrogs;

Allow bow and arrow for the take of catfish as authorized by Commission Order.

*Note: Those amendments above denoted with an asterisk went into effect in January 2012 as part of the exempt rulemaking process for Section 304.

The following amendments were made to prevent "canned" and "will call" hunts:

Prohibit holding wildlife at bay other than during daylight hours, unless authorized by Commission Order;

Prohibit injuring, confining, or placing a tracking device for the purpose of aiding another person to take wildlife;

Prohibit the use of dogs to tree, corner, or hold wildlife at bay unless the hunter is present for the entire hunt;

Require a hunter to immediately release or kill a bear or mountain lion that has been treed, cornered, or held at bay when using dogs.

The following amendments were made to reduce the likelihood of disease transmission in wildlife:

Prohibit the use of lures or attractants containing cervid urine;

Prohibit the use of "bait" for attracting or taking big game;

Place restrictions on transport and import of cervid carcasses.

The following amendments were made to protect native aquatic wildlife:

Prohibit transport of live crayfish (except for the portion of La Paz County west of Highway 95 and south of Interstate 10, Yuma County, and on the Colorado River from the Palo Verde Diversion Dam downstream to the southern international boundary with Mexico);

Allow sale of crayfish carcasses.

Other amendments:

There is a prohibition against placing a substance, device, or object at a water source to prevent wildlife from using that water source. There is a prohibition on the use or possession of night vision or thermal imagery equipment or laser sights while hunting at night. Also, R12-4-322 was adopted to provide a mechanism to lawfully allow a person to possess shed antlers, horns, or other parts of wildlife found in the wild without having to petition the Commission.

Restrictions on using bait to take game

One of the amendments to R12-4-303 pertains to restrictions on using bait to take game (commonly called "baiting"). We understand that this is an important issue to our constituents and have accordingly included some information below that explains the rationale behind the amendments.

The Commission adopts rules with the goal of managing for healthy, robust wildlife. The restrictions on baiting are being enacted to help keep wildlife healthy and enable the Department to manage for robust wildlife populations. The amended rule reads as follows:

R12-4-303. Unlawful Devices, Methods, and Ammunition

4. An individual shall not use edible or ingestible substances to aid in taking big game. The use of edible or ingestible substances to aid in taking big game is unlawful when:

a. An individual places edible or ingestible substances for the purpose of attracting or taking big game, or

b. An individual knowingly takes big game with the aid of edible or ingestible substances placed for the purpose of attracting wildlife to a specific location.

5. Subsection (A)(4) does not limit Department employees or Department agents in the performance of their official duties.

6. For the purposes of subsection (A)(4), edible or ingestible substances do not include any of the following:

a. Water.

b. Salt.

c. Salt-based materials produced and manufactured for the livestock industry.

d. Nutritional supplements produced and manufactured for the livestock industry and placed during the course of livestock or agricultural operations.

What is "bait"?

For the purposes of R12-4-303(A)(4), the Commission considers bait to include any food-stuff or ingestible material (such as corn or wildlife feed) that has been deposited, scattered or piled, or delivered by a passive or active feeder or feed delivery system, so as to constitute an attractant, lure or enticement to wildlife and to influence the movement of these animals for the purpose of harvest by hunters. "Bait" does not include: water, salt, salt-based materials produced and manufactured for the livestock industry; nutritional supplements produced and manufactured for the livestock industry and placed during the course of livestock or agricultural operations; decoys, scent lures (provided they do not contain cervid urine), or chemical attractants provided they are not ingestible; or food plots planted within accepted local or regional agricultural guidelines. The restrictions on baiting would not apply to practices that provide essential necessities for wildlife, such as water or salt licks and supplements developed for livestock operations. Greater availability of natural resources, including water and salt, actually promotes broader distribution of wildlife and healthier populations.

Concerns over baiting and wildlife health

A primary concern with baiting is that it results in concentrations of wildlife that may facilitate the transmission of diseases among wildlife or contain toxic contaminants. Baiting and supplemental feeding are linked to persistence and spread of bovine tuberculosis and brucellosis in wildlife and may facilitate the spread of chronic wasting disease. Further, toxins such as aflatoxin may be contained in wildlife feed or may develop after placement in the field. Because many of these diseases, and other wildlife diseases that can be transmitted in similar situations, may pose an economic risk to Arizona, this regulation is deemed critical to managing wildlife and hunting in Arizona. This is also consistent with similar regulations in many other states. Many states have adopted baiting restrictions to avoid high artificial concentrations of wildlife, where diseases can spread easily and quickly. Currently, all but five states located within the United States prohibit or restrict baiting.

Scientific evidence demonstrates that baiting concentrates wildlife at abnormal densities; increases direct and indirect contact among wildlife species; increases likelihood of disease transmission; maintains endemic disease pools that are capable of causing widespread sickness and mortality of wildlife and domestic animals; causes significant habitat damage; and increases intra- and inter-specific competition and stress among and within wildlife populations. Paradoxically, while baiting practices are usually intended for the purpose of attracting or luring a specific species of wildlife, these practices may have significant detrimental effects to non-target species attracted to the bait or feed. Common examples of disease problems associated with baiting to both target and non-target wildlife include histomoniasis and avian pox in wild turkey, bobwhite quail and other birds; bovine tuberculosis and chronic wasting disease in wild and enclosed ungulates such as deer and elk; pseudorabies and swine brucellosis in feral hogs; and rabies and distemper in raccoons, fox, and coyotes. There are numerous other diseases and parasites that can be readily transmitted at baiting sites through direct or indirect contact between animals and the bait or feed.

Although bovine tuberculosis, brucellosis, and chronic wasting disease are not evident in Arizona today, other wildlife diseases can be transmitted in similar situations, and chronic wasting disease has been detected in Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico and may eventually be detected in Arizona.

The amended baiting restrictions will build on the Department's history of taking proactive measures to prevent and detect wildlife disease, which already include:

Monitoring and testing cervid harvest annually since 1998;

Prohibiting the transportation, importation, and translocation of cervids; and

Establishing an emergency response plan of action, in the event chronic wasting disease or other detrimental wildlife disease is detected.

In addition to these controls already in place, the Department also has included other amendments to Article 3 to remain proactive in preventing chronic wasting disease by:

Regulating the importation of carcasses and parts of cervids into the state;

Regulating game farms in Arizona on the importation of carcasses and parts of cervids; and

Prohibiting the use of lures and scents containing cervid urine.

The cost of baiting

The economic costs associated with wildlife disease outbreaks and control can be severe. Costs of disease outbreaks are generally recurring and additive due to annual costs of monitoring and eradicating diseased animals. Wildlife disease outbreaks can cause a significant decrease in hunting license revenue due to increased hunter/public caution and decreased hunter participation. Such loss of hunting-related revenue to rural economies can have a devastating effect to the state's economic stability and may decrease operating budgets of state agencies, thus further causing negative impact on wildlife resources. Baiting and feeding of game wildlife species detracts attention, resources, and effort away from wildlife habitat management, which biologists consistently recognize as the foundation of wildlife conservation.

If wildlife diseases are introduced into Arizona and spread to native wildlife, hunters in the state would be adversely affected, as the Department would have to use money that otherwise would have been directed to wildlife management, habitat creation and hunter issues. Further, hotels, restaurants, gas stations, sporting goods stores, and other businesses that draw economic benefit from hunting would also be adversely impacted. The U.S. Department of Agriculture disperses $17 million to $19 million annually to help states look for CWD. A recent detection of chronic wasting disease in Wisconsin has cost that state wildlife agency approximately $250,000 in the first month and the costs continue to rise, with the state estimating that it will need $22.5 million over the next three years to fight the disease. In Colorado, management of the disease required an additional appropriation from the state legislature of approximately $350,000. Simply put, management of wildlife diseases is a tremendously expensive proposition for the state, and measures must be taken to prevent their introduction into Arizona.


Reader Comments(0)