Arizona Game and Fish Commission to meet in Kingman Friday

Use of trail cameras like this one at water holes will be a hot topic of discussion at this week’s AZGFD Commission meeting in Kingman.

Photo by Don Martin.

Use of trail cameras like this one at water holes will be a hot topic of discussion at this week’s AZGFD Commission meeting in Kingman.

The Arizona Game and Fish Commission will be meeting at 8 a.m. Friday in the Board of Supervisors meeting room, 700 W. Beale St.

The meeting is open to the public, which can address the commission on items that will be discussed by submitting speaker cards prior to the item coming up for discussion.

Initially there will be a call to the public where anyone from the public can address the commission on any subject. Speakers are limited to three minutes, and the commission will take no action on these items.

The business portion of the meeting includes approval of recreational easements and agreements for community fishing programs.

Commissioners will hear a briefing on threatened and endangered wildlife in Arizona and a federal lands planning update.

At 10 a.m. there will be a time-certain item, which will include hearings on license revocations for three individuals who have been convicted of wildlife violations in Arizona. Besides revoking those convicted offenders’ hunting, fishing and trapping privileges, the commission may also apply civil assessments for the violations.

After those items are handled, the commission will hear petitions from two people, one who is requesting a 2019 elk tag and the other is a petition from a married couple who are asking permission to purchase Point Guard after the fact to correct an application error.

Matthew Schwartzkopf, the department’s shooting range administrator, will advise on the shooting range development grant requests for 2019. There have been four requests totaling $81,000 by ranges in Arizona.

The Commission will also hear an update on a potential treatment with a chemical known as rotenone to treat the Virgin River Gorge in 2018 if drought conditions persist. The treatment essentially kills the fish in the area that is treated to remove unwanted exotics, which negatively affect native endangered species.

After the lunch break at noon, the Commission will hear and approve the final statements amending Article 3 Rules addressing the taking and handling of wildlife in Arizona.

This is the time where a number of issues that affect Arizona sportsmen will be addressed and decided.

You’ll recall that in March and April I wrote a three-part story on the proposals that are going to be addressed.

One of the items that I am not in support of is changing the rules that will prohibit the placing of trail cameras within one-quarter mile of a water source.

This issue is one that has divided the hunting community throughout Arizona. Some sportsmen have said the Department is right to get rid of them. The department and commission feel that having a camera on a water hole violates Fair Chase.

They also say that some waters in Northern Arizona have so many cameras that it causes a disturbance to wildlife, but have there been any studies done to back that up?

My personal opinion is that the department and commission are trying to micromanage this situation, and it’s probably due to public perception.

My argument is that trail cameras have never killed anything.

What a trail camera does is tell you what is in the area and the time it was there. Wild animals can, and often do, come in at different times and from different directions. You still have to be out there and hunt for them. Having a photo sure doesn’t guarantee you’ll take an animal that came in the middle of the night.

Another rule I don’t agree with deals with laser-equipped rifle-scopes that not only give the hunter the range of a target, but automatically make the adjustment that ensures the elevation (hold over) is right on. All the hunter has to do is dope the wind and squeeze the trigger. Those scopes are accurate out to 600-plus yards.

The department and commission feel that this technology does NOT violate Fair Chase standards. I sure don’t get that, and my feeling is if the general public was aware of that kind of technology was out there and being used by hunters, they might not agree either. But then again, that’s just my opinion.

Even though I’m not in favor of either rule, I believe the changes are going to pass.

The rules, on trail cameras, when and if adopted, will go into effect April 1, 2019.

Sure wish I was going to be at the meeting to listen to the rationale given to those who attend before it is voted on.

But the meeting is on opening day of a Goulds turkey hunt in Southern Arizona, and I know I’ll have more potential impact on that situation than I ever would pleading my case in front of the commission on Friday.

So turkey hunting wins out for my time on Friday, and for Arizona sportsmen, after this meeting and in 2019 there will be a few more restrictions in place that will govern how we can recreate.

I hope that a good number of Kingman sportsmen will take the time to attend the meeting. In the past I’ve complained that the commission rarely comes to Kingman, but when they do they get very few to turn out for the meeting.

If you can attend, please attend, unless you are going on a Goulds turkey hunt, too.