TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Starting in January 2019 the Arizona Game and Fish Department will conduct aerial surveys, via helicopter, of the big game population in southern Arizona.
“Although we attempt to conduct these flights so that there is minimal conflict with ongoing hunts, surveys may overlap with an open hunt,” said Regional Supervisor Raul Vega of Game and Fish in Tucson.
According to a AZGFD news release the count will go from Jan. 2 to Jan. 18. Helicopter flights, which may last up to five hours, are scheduled for the following dates and areas:
- Jan. 3 to Jan. 4 over the Santa Rita Mountains area, Game Management Unit (GMU) 34A;
- Jan. 5 to Jan. 6, Sonoita-Patagonia area, GMU 35B;
- Jan.7 to Jan. 8. Tombstone-McNeal area, GMU 30B;
- Jan. 9 to Jan 10, south of Willcox area, GMU 30A;
- Jan. 11 to Jan. 12, Safford-Duncan area GMU 28;
- Jan. 13 to Jan. 14, Galuiro Mountains area, GMU 32;
- Jan. 15 to Jan. 16, Florence-Oracle area, GMU 37B.
- Jan. 17 to Jan. 18, Amado-Tubac area, GMU 36B.
Fixed wing aircraft may also be used to do the surveys, according to AZGFD.
Big game surveys are routinely conducted by AZGFD using various aircraft in all game management areas. Wildlife managers call these surveys vital tools to accurately set annual hunt permit numbers, to help ensure a healthy big game population.
Hunters may encounter low flying AZGFD aircraft conducting surveys during weekdays and on weekends, specifically in the area of Fort Huachuca due to weekday flight restrictions that are in place.
It is illegal for any aircraft to pursue wildlife during an established hunting season except for official game management purposes and anyone who witnesses any type of aircraft displaying such activity should call the Operation Game Thief hotline at 1-800-352-0700.