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Notice To Hunters Regarding A Department Elk Research Project


August 1, 2015

The Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Research Branch will be conducting an elk survey methodology study to investigate ways to evaluate and improve the accuracy and precision of our elk population estimates. The project includes trapping and radio-collaring elk, and short-term intensive helicopter and fixed wing aircraft surveys within specific GMUs to compare various survey methods.

Elk trapping will take place throughout 2015 outside of elk hunting seasons. Aerial surveys will be restricted to the end of August and early September 2015 prior to the elk archery season. As this may mildly impact some hunters, the attached Q&A was developed to answer questions that the public may have if they witness the department’s field work in GMU 1 and 7E.

Q: What is the purpose of the “cages” being set out in the forest?

A: These are elk traps designed to capture individual animals without harming them so that we may fit them with radio-telemetry collars as a part of a research project. Elk will be released on site immediately after being fitted with a collar.

Q: What is the purpose of the research project?

A: The primary objective of this project is to test and compare various survey techniques to improve accuracy and precision in estimating elk numbers.

Q: Why are there helicopters flying low and slow in the forest where I hunt?

A: Observers in the helicopters are conducting aerial surveys for elk to test several methods so that we may more closely monitor elk numbers. As they are testing several different methods, helicopters may fly slow and low to allow observers to gather necessary data for comparing survey methods.

Q: Are these additional flights designed specifically to interfere with hunters and reduce hunt success?

A: No, the hunting public is an important and valued customer of the Arizona Game and Fish Department. These efforts are designed to improve accuracy of our elk surveys to better inform herd management decisions.

Q: Will this improved accuracy result in reduced elk permits and affect draw success? Or, will it result in increased elk permits that may affect future hunt success?

A: No, this effort is independent of specific elk herd management objectives. However, improved accuracy in survey data will aid managers in making more informed decisions about elk population management and hunting regulations.

Q: Can I legally harvest a collared elk?

A: Yes, this policy is spelled out in the hunting regulations, and marked or collared animals can be legally harvested. All we ask is that ear tags (or documentation of ear tags) and the collar be returned undamaged to the nearest Arizona Game and Fish Department office.


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