The Arizona Game and Fish Department has committed $1 million in an effort to increase the state’s populations of mule deer and scaled quail. Using funds made available under the Wildlife Restoration Program, AZGFD is partnering with the Bureau of Land Management to improve mule deer habitat in Unit 16A through a series of prescribed burns to re-open and re-invigorate some of the state’s desert shrublands that have become overgrown with thick vegetation.

The Wildlife Restoration Program provides grant funds for wildlife and habitat conservation projects through a federal excise tax paid by manufacturers on firearms, ammunition, and archery equipment. AZGFD received more funds from the Wildlife Restoration Program this year, and according to Assistant Director Jim deVos, decided to put some of the funds toward habitat improvements aimed at increasing the mule deer and scaled quail populations.

“Both these popular species are currently below population objectives, and conventional thought is that poor habitat quality impedes their recovery,” said deVos. “One of the challenges to wildlife management agencies is to increase wildlife populations and meet the demand for both hunters and wildlife watchers. Prescribed burns, dense shrub and tree removal, and improvements to wildlife waters will help restore these habitats and improve conditions for mule deer and scaled quail.”

The restoration for mule deer will concentrate on two hunt units that historically had high numbers of mule deer but have experienced declines due to changing habitat. For scaled quail, actions to improve habitat will be focused in Units 31 and 32. Once the burns and other planned treatments have been completed, new growth of shrubs and grasses will become a food source for mule deer, quail and many other species.

“Growing these populations will take aggressive action,” said deVos. “This new funding has allowed us to go into arenas where we couldn’t go before.”   back...
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