A hunter's eyes can help wildlife

DON MARTIN/Special to the Miner<br>
A water storage tank was found leaking during a recent hunt in Unit 12A West (Kaibab). The Arizona Game and Fish Department responded promptly.

DON MARTIN/Special to the Miner<br> A water storage tank was found leaking during a recent hunt in Unit 12A West (Kaibab). The Arizona Game and Fish Department responded promptly.

One of the most important things that we as sportsmen and women can do to assist the Arizona Game and Fish Department in their mission of wildlife management is to keep our eyes open for problems when we are in the field.

In late November, I was assisting a non-resident hunter on his 12A West late Kaibab deer hunt along with good friend Jay Chan.

During the time we were there, I put up several game cameras around water sources due to the large amount of deer tracks that we observed around them.

On the winter range of the Kaibab, as in most areas, water is a very valuable resource, and the deer herds that migrate into the area depend on these man-made reservoirs to survive.

One day when I went to check on a camera in a very remote area, I noticed that it appeared that the level of water in the drinker had gone down considerably since the last time I had visited the site.

Then I noticed that there seemed to be a lot of water at the base of the nearby storage tank, which stores several thousand gallons of water for future use by wildlife.

Upon investigating, I found that there was a small, pencil-sized hole near the base of the storage tank and a steady stream of precious water was spilling onto the ground.

I found a branch that was about the same size as the hole and pushed in it. The wood swelled a bit and formed a seal of sorts, though water was still dripping down the side of the tank.

I knew that the wildlife in the area depended on this water source and that it would need to be permanently fixed to prevent the storage tank from going completely dry.

I was able to get on top of a nearby hill and got reception on my cell phone. I called the Game and Fish Department's area supervisor, Luke Thompson, and left him a message about the leak.

The next day, while glassing for deer, I observed a Game and Fish truck heading out to the area where the tank was located. Several hours later, I saw the department vehicle at several other waters that were in the same general area.

Wondering if the tank had been repaired, I drove down to the site and checked it.

Sure enough, the tank had been permanently repaired and there were no more leaks.

I was pleased with the quick response of the department to this serious issue.

I have found the same situation in the past in Unit 10 (Boquillas Ranch), Cane Springs Ranch in Unit 16A and even a sheep water in Unit 15C North.

Sportsmen are at times the first to find these problems. You need to report them to the ranchers or to Game and Fish and save a valuable resource.

Arizona is for the most part a desert, and water is necessary for all animals to survive.

Do your part when in the field and keep your eyes open for water leaks or other management-related problems. The wildlife and livestock out there are counting on us for their continued survival.