Help Game and Fish Department assist thirsty wildlife during extreme drought

Text SENDWATER to 41444 to help AZGFD conserve, protect wildlife. (Submitted photo)

The Arizona Game and Fish Department has trucked or airlifted about 600,000 gallons of water to catchments throughout the state to assist wildlife during drought conditions since January.

The public is asked to assist AZGFD in their efforts to ensure that elk, deer, bighorn sheep and countless species are refreshed by drinking at one of 3,000 catchments maintained by the department, according to a press release.

“Water catchments don’t discriminate – they’re used by all wildlife from big game to some of the smallest squirrels, lizards, birds, bats and even bees,” Joseph Currie, AZGFD Habitat Planning program manager overseeing the department’s water catchment efforts, said in a prepared statement. “Our crews typically stop hauling water in August after monsoon rains refill much of our water catchments. However, due to this extreme drought, we haven’t stopped and anticipate having to haul more than 1.5 million gallons of water this year.”

To help defray rising costs of providing life-sustaining water for Arizona’s wildlife, AZGFD recently began its “Water for Wildlife” donation campaign for the public to support its efforts.

Funding ensures that the department continues delivering water to remote regions of the state and help mitigate population fluctuations caused by severe lingering droughts, the release stated.

“Historic drought periods such as this one were typically followed by massive die-offs of wildlife,” Mr. Currie stated. “By hauling water, we are able to stabilize those populations, keeping them alive and out of urban areas in search of water.”

While AZGFD partners with many great wildlife groups, the department handles much of the costs to haul water to and maintain about 1,000 of its own catchments statewide, some of which must be filled with water flown in by helicopter, the release noted.

The department also maintains an additional 1,000 Bureau of Land Management and 1,000 U.S. Forest Service water catchments, the release added.

For more information or to make a donation to the Water for Wildlife campaign, visit azgfd.gov or text SENDWATER (one word) to 41444 from any smartphone so a link with the department’s logo will be sent to the phone to complete the donation.

The Apache Junction Independent is mailed each month to 35,000 homes.

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