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<b>Some hunting and fishing fees could be increased</b>

PHOENIX —The Arizona Game and Fish Department is proposing to increase certain hunting and fishing license and permit-tag fees to the maximum amount allowed by law.
The fees, as listed below, do not include the regular $5 application fee. The department proposes to raise fees as follows:

- Antelope, resident hunt permit-tags would be raised to $65, and non-resident hunt permit-tags will be raised to $325.
- Bear, resident hunt permit-tags would be raised to $14.50, and non-resident hunt permit-tags will be raised to $200.
- Bighorn sheep, resident hunt permit-tags would be raised to $195, and non-resident hunt permit-tags will be raised to $1,000.
- Deer, resident hunt permit-tags would be raised to $19.50, and non-resident hunt permit-tags will be raised to $125.50.
- Elk, resident hunt permit-tags would be raised to $78, and non-resident hunt permit-tags will be raised to $400.
- Javelina, resident hunt permit-tags would be raised to $12.50, and non-resident hunt permit-tags will be raised to $70.
- Mountain lion, resident hunt permit-tags would be lowered to $10, and non-resident hunt permit-tags will be raised to $200.
- Turkey, resident hunt permit-tags would be raised to $11.
- White Amur Stocking License would be raised to $200.

The public will have the opportunity to submit comments on the proposed changes from March 19 to April 18 after they are published in the Arizona Administrative Register. For additional information, call (602) 789-3271 or send comments by e-mail to [email protected].

<b>Silver Bell bighorn survey reveals reason for hope </b>

TUCSON—Arizona Game and Fish Department biologists breathed a sigh of relief Feb. 20 after flying a survey of the Silver Bell bighorn sheep population that has been plagued with a blindness-causing disease since December.

Biologists had feared that an outbreak of keratoconjunctivitis (pink eye) and another disease called contagious ecthyma would result in the bighorn sheep population losing its lamb crop this year. Contagious ecthyma is a skin disease that can result in ewes not feeding their lambs. The survey flight showed 10 lambs on the ground now and at least one more pregnant ewe.

"It’s not over yet and these bighorns aren’t out of trouble, but we breathed a sigh of relief — our worst fears were not realized,” says Jim Heffelfinger, a Game and Fish Department biologist based in the Tucson region.

Heffelfinger says the ewes that bred later in the season after the two diseases had already swept through the population had successful reproduction. “Those ewes that had their lambs during the height of the disease outbreak lost them. At that time, we were pretty pessimistic about this year’s reproductive success.”
Biologists are hopeful the two diseases have run their course. There is only one known blind bighorn sheep left, and it was captured, treated and released during the survey flight. Heffelfinger estimates that approximately 15 to 25 percent of the bighorn sheep in the Silver Bell Mountains were lost. Here is the current tally:

- 33 bighorns are known to have contracted pink eye;
- 12 of those recovered.
- 12 died.
- One is still blind.
- The fate of eight is unknown.

Biologists have been routinely flying the area since the disease outbreak began in December to capture and treat bighorns with pink eye. DNA testing shows that these bighorns caught the disease from domestic goats that escaped from an adjacent grazing lease near the Ironwood National Forest. Heffelfinger says no more flights are scheduled. “We do have another ongoing bighorn study in the area, so we will be routinely monitoring the situation.

Biologists explained that the Silver Bell Sheep population is historically and biologically significant because it has been there since the Pleistocene Era. In fact, it is the only remaining indigenous population of bighorns in southern Arizona. Therefore, they say, it represents an irreplaceable source of genetic variation for desert bighorns.

<b>Tres Rios Nature Festival March 13–14 </b>

PHOENIX— Come enjoy a day of family fun and education at the APS Tres Rios Nature Festival on March 13 and 14 at the Estrella Mountain Regional Park in Phoenix.

Bring the kids and come celebrate Arizona's wildlife, history and the heritage of our community. Arizona Game and Fish Department officials say you will see many varieties of wildlife up close and personal, such as the burrowing owls, falcons, snakes and much more.

Kids can attend free fishing clinics where they will learn to catch and clean their own fish. Free bus tours will take you to three of the valley's best bird watching spots. You'll find more than 40 other educational displays and exhibits.
Tres Rios means "three rivers" in Spanish, and the festival will give you the chance to learn about Arizona's Gila, Salt and Agua Fria rivers and their environmental importance to your life. Come join us for all of this plus food, entertainment and much more at the APS Tres Rios Nature Festival. For additional information, visit tresriosnaturefestival.com.

<b>Arizona Outdoors Calendar

March 13, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
Game and Fish Commission meeting, Tucson. Call (602) 942-3000 or (520) 628-5376.

March 19-April 18 Archery-only spring bear season in Unit 22.

March 19-April 27
General spring bear season opens in selected units.

March 27-28, 8 a.m.

Adopt-a-Ranch Project. Modify fences and improve antelope habitat on Horseshoe Ranch. E-mail [email protected], [email protected] or call (602) 789-3492 or (602) 944-5566 ext. 6190.

AZGFD </b>
 
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