G&F seeks help from sportsmen this weekend

If you are one of the more than 100 area sportsmen and women who have signed up to participate in the Mohave Sportsman Club's annual coyote suppression hunt this weekend in northern Arizona, the Arizona Game and Fish Department is seeking your help.

Many years ago, the department became involved in transplanting the endangered black-footed ferrets to Aubrey Valley, which is located west of Seligman in Game Management Unit 10.

Ferrets were transplanted from Wyoming and were raised in acclimation pens before they were released into the wild.

Ferrets are sensitive to a host of diseases, and right now there is an outbreak of canine distemper that is affecting coyotes in the area where the ferrets live. If the ferrets were infected with distemper, is could be devastating to that population.

Biologists are seeking to gather 10-15 coyotes to obtain tissue samples to find out the extent of the disease.

Normally, the department has to pay a federal agency to get these samples for them, but with the MSC's annual coyote hunt taking place this weekend, hunters can help and save the department a lot of money.

Sportsmen who hunt in the Aubrey Valley and take coyotes there are being asked to bring them in to Seligman, where, after they are checked in by MSC officials, they will be turned over to G&F biologists.

One of the biologists in the project, Jeff Corcoran, said that they can even use coyotes that are taken close to Aubrey Valley.

"We would prefer that the coyotes be taken in Aubrey Valley, but if any are taken within a 20-mile radius, we can use them," Corcoran said.

This annual hunt is designed to remove coyotes from game management units in northern Arizona where antelope are found. Biologists have determined that coyotes are the No. 1 predator of antelope fawns in the state.

Besides antelope, coyotes have been shown to have an impact on deer fawns, elk calves and even turkeys.

The MSC knows that having hunters in the field won't solve the predator problem in northern Arizona, but the hunt will take a number of coyotes that otherwise would be potential fawn killers.

Past president Jim Jett of the MSC stated, "Even if we save just one antelope fawn or deer fawn this spring, then this effort by sportsmen from all over the state is worth it."

Plus, this hunt doesn't cost the taxpayers of Arizona anything for this predator-control effort.

And this year, as in years past, if hunters are successful in taking coyotes that can be used by the department for biological testing, then so much the better.

A member of the Arizona Trappers Association will be on hand to take the coyotes brought in during the hunt. The fur is taken from many of the coyotes.

Entries for the hunt are still being accepted. Sportsmen have until 5 p.m. Friday to drop off their application. In Kingman, applications can be dropped off only at the 7 Mile Hill Range or at A&P Pawn on Beale Street.

Applications will also be accepted at the Black Cat Bar in Seligman until 10 p.m. on Friday. However, entries there must be paid for in cash; no checks will be accepted.

If you have any questions, contact the MSC hunt chairman at (928) 303-9481.