TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) -The Arizona Game and Fish Department is now conducting aerial surveys of deer and javelina populations in southeastern Arizona through Jan. 20.
Helicopter flights lasting up to five hours are scheduled as follows for outlying areas:
- Jan. 4, San Simon Valley, Game Management Unit (GMU) 28
- Jan. 5 to Jan. 6, Galiuro Mountains region from Willcox to Mammoth, GMU 32
- Jan. 7 to Jan. 8, between Oracle, Florence and Kearny, GMU 37BC
- Jan. 9 to Jan. 10, Patagonia area, GMU 35B
- Jan. 11 to Jan. 12, Santa Catalina Mountains area, GMU 33
- Jan. 13 to Jan. 14, southern Altar Valley, GMU 36B
- Jan. 15 to Jan. 16, Santa Rita Mountains area, GMU 34A
- Jan. 17 to Jan. 18, Tombstone-Bisbee areas, GMU 30B
- Jan. 19-20, Sulphur Springs Valley, GMU30A
Fixed wing aircraft may also be used to do the surveys. Game and Fish routinely conducts big game surveys with aircraft in all of Arizona’s GMUs. These flights are a vital tool used by wildlife managers to accurately set annual hunt permit numbers to ensure the fitness of big game populations.
“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.
Hunters may encounter low flying Game and Fish Department aircraft conducting big game 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.
Those who witness any type of aircraft displaying such activity should call the Operation Game Thief hotline at 1-800-352-0700.