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Arizona Wildlife Federation Blog

The Arizona Wildlife Federation Blog is published at least once monthly. If you'd like to write in a guest blog submission, please email

Blog posts reflect the opinions and perspectives of the individual authors and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoints of the Arizona Wildlife Federation.

  • November 29, 2022 7:47 AM | Anonymous

    Bridges to Bow has been such an amazing and inspirational force in my life! I am originally from Louisiana, and had never been camping before I moved to Arizona. In fact, camping and outdoor activities were seen as something out of reach for people like me. Attending Bridges to B.O.W was the jump start I needed to really have confidence and begin enjoying the outdoors. During my first B2B experience, I took classes on backpacking, gun safety, and wild skills. Watching the instructors and asking questions in a safe non-judgmental environment was exactly what I needed.  The added comfort of being with a group of young women with a similar background as me also helped. I was able to attend classes and then discuss what I learned with other women of color. Since attending my first B.O.W., I have taken several camping and off roading trips with my wife. We've grown comfortable with starting and putting out campfires, setting up a tent, and packing the right materials for a few days out in the wilderness. We have now visited Chiricahua National Monument, Petrified National Forest, Kartchner Caverns, Vermillion Cliffs, and many other beautiful Arizona landscapes and heritage sites! We've also continued to volunteer with Bridges to B.O.W. by recruiting and helping with Bridges to B.O.W. campouts. Recently, Bridges to B.O.W. went to Oakflat campground where we learned about conservation of water in the area and protecting Indignous land from mining and other corporate interests that will negatively impact ecosystems there. Long story short: I feel like an outdoors woman! And I can't wait to continue exploring and learning about Arizona landscapes and wildlife! Big thank you to B2B, B.O.W, and Arizona Wildlife Federation for making it possible. 

    With lots of love! 

    Candace Banks

  • November 28, 2022 12:18 PM | Anonymous

    Dave Barker, Friends of Ironwood Forest, Board Secretary /Treasurer

    A little over a year ago, The Friends of Ironwood Forest (FIF) joined with a collection of like-minded groups to initiate a simple task – the removal of legacy barbed wire from locations where it was either unneeded or redundant. Seemingly a simple idea, it was a task with many facets and the need for coordinated planning, which the Arizona Wildlife Federation (AWF) has provided.

    The FIF advocate for the Ironwood Forest National Monument and have been performing stewardship-related tasks for years. But this opportunity to collaborate with other organizations across a spectrum of interests presented a new challenge. By joining with not only the AWF, but the Arizona Game and Fish Department, Friends of Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge, Saguaro National Park, and Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection, we were able to turn that simple task – with complex challenges – into reality.

    As a collection of groups, we have removed close to 20 miles of unnecessary fencing that not only inhibits wildlife movement, but can actually trap and kill individual animals. The gruesome details of such an end for a deer, bighorn sheep, or any other animal is an emotional assault that none of us wish to contemplate. The satisfaction of eliminating these dangerous and unsightly barriers is extremely rewarding and it greatly benefits habitat.

    By joining our respective groups together for this joint mission, we increase the bandwidth of our reach – connecting with volunteers, supporters, and media sources. Our diverse organizations bring different skills to the table, and we are simply stronger by working together.

    I applaud the Arizona Wildlife Federation for their involvement in “Desert Fence Busting.” Trica Oshant Hawkins and her AWF volunteers have contributed their expertise to our mission success.

    They deserve your support, because removing old barbed wire is truly “a tune we can all dance to.”

  • November 22, 2022 10:36 AM | Anonymous

    Carmen Faucon, Project Lead

    Several years ago, I had registered my yard with the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) as a Certified Wildlife Habitat.  In September of 2021, (probably in part because of the NWF sign) my yard was one of those selected to be on the Bisbee Bloomer’s Garden tour.

    This garden tour is a big deal in Bisbee and brings in revenue to help with beautification efforts of local parks and common areas in Bisbee.  So, being a retired educator, I thought; how can I get the public to walk away from my yard armed with vital information, knowing more about wildlife habitats and their significance to our urban environments? 

    Fortunately I knew someone with the Arizona Wildlife Federation who would be able to add that “personal touch” to make this project memorable.  I contacted the AWF for assistance with magazines and informative articles to be available for the public.  The real “brainstorm” was asking Valerie Morrill, Director At Large, for the AWF to come down for the garden tour dressed the part as a field biologist with name tag, vest, boots, butterfly net and binoculars and prepared to tackle the public head on.  Tackle the public “head on” she did!  Lines formed where she was stationed as the public thirsted to know more about wildlife habitats, plants, pollinators…and what they could do to make their yards more wildlife friendly.  In June, 2022 Valerie again came down to Bisbee to present a class on “Gardening for Wildlife” hosted by the Bisbee Science and Research Lab.  

    As a result of these efforts, interest has ballooned exponentially with Bisbee residents wanting to brand our town as a Community Wildlife Habitat with the NWF.  In fact for 2023, tentative plans have been made for a Bisbee Bloomer’s Wildlife Habitat Tour to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the AWF.

    Certifying the City of Bisbee as a Community Wildlife Habitat has been no small undertaking.  A committee (PROJECT WILDLIFE: Bisbee), local commitment, grants and sponsors have had to be sought.  The project is an easy “sell”, but our greatest roadblock as a small grass roots organization was accessing monies from grants to implement this project.  Well, once again, the AWF has come to our rescue by simplifying the process as a fiscal manager for awarded grants.  And of course, along with their support comes their name recognition and a testimonial to our efforts protecting flora and fauna.  

    Thank you AWF, for partnering with us in the effort conserving Arizona's wildlife, wild places, and public lands.


  • November 15, 2022 2:14 PM | Anonymous

    This past week, I had the opportunity to join the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Native Trout and Chub program’s restocking of Gila Trout into the upper and lower Marijilda Creek on Mount Graham. We were joined by volunteers from the U.S. Forest Service and Trout Unlimited Arizona. Both trips carrying 600 fish were physically demanding. The hike was uphill and it was about 40 degrees out. 

    Today, more volunteers will be carrying 250 Gila Trout to Raspberry Creek, which will be another arduous hike of about 4 miles carrying buckets of fish.

    Mount Graham and the surrounding National Coronado Forest area is beautiful. As I drove into the Shannon Campground that we met up at, clouds hung low over the hills and the sun shone a few rays through, illuminating the valley below. 

    The road up was winding and it was hard to not look at the fantastic views below. At one point, I drove around a curve only to come face to face with a mule deer doe and her fawn. 

    Everyone at the stocking was friendly and enthusiastic about the work despite the cold temperatures and long hike ahead. At the upper Marijilda Creek, we carried about 120 or so Gila Trout ranging in size from as little as three to five inches. Stocking the fish was a bit complicated as we had to carefully locate large and deep enough pools in the Marijilda Creek. We also had to ensure fish were spread out along the portions of the creek so they don’t overeat any particular area.

    While this work is difficult, it’s becoming increasingly important in Arizona. The Gila Trout, as well as the Apache Trout, are the most threatened trout species here. The Arizona Game and Fish Department has been instrumental in maintaining an active Gila Trout recovery program. Currently there are seven recovery streams spread across the Agua Fria River, Blue River, lower Gila River, and Verde River drainages. Additionally, they are stocked into the East Verde River, Frye Mesa Reservoir, Watson Lake, Lynx Lake, and Goldwater Lake for non-recovery purposes to maintain sport fisheries. 

    Some of the threats this species faces are quite obvious — drought, poor water quality, and wildfires are some of the prevalent issues facing species in the wild as well as sports fisheries who often supply trout for restocking. However, a major issue facing Gila Trout is their ability to breed with other trout species. Gila Trout are capable of hybridizing with Rainbow Trout which has greatly reduced the range of pure populations of Gila Trout.

    If you're interested in volunteering for future opportunities, make sure you follow us, AZGFD, and Trout Unlimited on social media! 

  • October 25, 2022 10:18 AM | Anonymous

    Have you ever been at a football game or a concert and suddenly looked up at the starry night sky, illuminated by bright floodlights, only to gasp in terror and shriek out, “Bats!”

    If we’re being honest — we hope you haven’t done this, but it’s understandable if you have.

    A lot of folks find themselves scared of or even terrified of bats. They have small, sharp teeth, wrinkly faces, and can be carriers of rabies. When you grow up only hearing these negative statements about bats, it’s natural to be wary of them.

    Even more frightening is their connection to Halloween and vampires. This is somewhat due to Dracula, but more so due to the vampire bat who does — yes — actually drink blood. However, these bats don’t want to go after humans and they aren’t even commonly found near humans. Like most animals, they want to live in their own space and not be bothered! A dark, quiet cave is far preferable to a city filled with people scared of you.

    While people are often worried about disease transfer, bats are no more likely to transfer disease than any other mammal. It’s just that bats are small and if they are sick, they’re on the ground within a person’s reach. That being said, please do not touch a bat! It’s dangerous for you and for them.

    Therefore, why be scared of the 1,300 other bat species that exist when only three of those species are blood-drinkers?

    At the end of the day, some fear them, others love them, but no matter how you spin it, bats are incredibly important creatures! Not only are they pollinators, but they are the predominant pollinators of saguaro cactus blooms.

    Bats help out ranchers and farmers by eating pests that would otherwise destroy their crop yields. They also love eating mosquitoes, which I think we can all appreciate. 

    Yes — they have sharp teeth and wrinkly little faces, but they can also eat more than 1,000 insects in just one hour of flight. They also save us billions of dollars annually by helping to control insect-spread human diseases.

    Despite the critical role they play in the world, bats are the most rapidly declining land mammals in North America. Unfortunately, much of that is because of our fear of them.

    That’s yet another reason why Recovering America's Wildlife Act (RAWA) is so important to pass. RAWA would commit over 1.3 billion dollars for the conservation and restoration of wildlife and plant species of greatest conservation need, including endangered or threatened species, and establish related requirements. All bats — especially the 30% of them at risk in the U.S. — would benefit from RAWA. 

    Remember — without bats, ecosystems suffer.

    So what are some of the ways you can start to appreciate bats more?

    1. Go on nightly walks and see if you can identify the bat species you see; Arizona has 28 different types of bats!

    2. Check out some of the batty events near you: 

    3. Know the resources you have in Arizona if you find a bat in need: 

    Have an educational and exciting Bat Week! 

  • October 14, 2022 10:17 AM | Anonymous

    At our last Becoming an Outdoors-Woman weekend in September, I had the chance to spend some time with the Bridges to BOW group during a class led by Trica Oshant-Hawkins, AWF’s Conservation Programs Director. In this class, we walked out deeper into the woods, stopping at several spots to engage in activities like filtering water from a stream, building a shelter, and learning about the multitude of ways you can build a fire. 

    Something that stuck with me, and stuck with many of the people there based solely on my discussions with them after, was how easy it is to ignore aspects of nature and wilderness — even when you find yourself surrounded by it.

    It is easy to imagine not noticing every small weed or sparrow that appears in your own neighborhood. Easier still, is the state of obliviousness to nature that occurs when living in a city lacking “interesting” wildlife or plants — think of the living things you see daily: pigeons, bushes, aloe vera and agave, starlings. These are the living things that we Arizonans find ourselves constantly surrounded by.

    All this being said, why then, does it still happen when in the woods? I find myself hiking for miles only to be done and realize I cannot remember the names of any plants I walked by. Someone could ask me, ‘What did you see?’ and I honestly would have no response other than vague recollections of ‘Oh, some birds, some trees, some flowers.’ 

    Trica brought this up to the Bridges to BOW group, and practically everyone agreed! 

    There are so many explanations for why this phenomenon happens even to the most avid outdoor enthusiasts. Perhaps it’s just a symptom of humanity moving away from nature and towards developed areas. Maybe we spend too much time looking at our screens instead of our surroundings. Worst of all, I think, is that we simply don’t care about nature anymore.

    Luckily, I heartily disagree with that last point, though I’m sure some people out there believe it. Truthfully, I think that Trica said it best when she pointed out our tendency to call animals and plants by “it”. Instead, Trica suggested the group try calling animals and plants with more personal terminology. 

    Look at that bird! It’s beautiful.


    Look at that bird! She’s beautiful.

    It’s a simple solution, but once you start changing how you address wildlife and plants, it becomes so much easier to notice and appreciate them. Truly, I think that small change is the beginning of recognizing plants and animals by their names. Their presence feels so much more impactful when you know them with that familiarity.

    One plant that everyone from that class should know now is the flannel mullein. This plant was everywhere in Prescott! However, in demonstrating my previous point, nobody in the group noticed them until Trica pointed them out.

    Do you recognize this plant? 

    Perhaps this one?

    If you do, then you’ll know that these are the same type of plant! You have likely seen them at mid to higher elevations in disturbed areas. They’re called flannel mullein because their leaves are soft and flannel-like. Originally from the old world, they have naturalized to the U.S. 

    They are a biennial, meaning they only live for two years. The first year they grow as a rosette low to the ground. In the second year, the plant puts up a long stalk covered with small yellow flowers. Finally, they dry out and die at the end of their second year.

    Mullein is a great plant to recognize, as it has many uses, both medicinal and as a tool. The stalk can be used as a spindle for friction fires or can be dipped in sap or wax to be used as a torch. 

    We hope that on your next outing, you’ll see some mullein and learn more names of the wonderful wildlife around you.

  • September 24, 2022 10:00 AM | Anonymous

    Each year at AWF, we celebrate National Public Lands Day (NPLD) as well as our state's own recognized Public Lands Day (look out for April!). However, a lot of people don't know the history of the day or why it's so important.

    The day was originally established in 1994, making this year its 28th Year of being celebrated. NPLD celebrates that wonderful connection that people make with nature and is led by the National Environmental Education Foundation, in partnership with the National Park Service and other federal agencies.

    In 1994, there were roughly 700 volunteers and just by 2010, that number grew to 170,000 at over 2,000 different sites in the U.S. What can we say? People love nature! 

    A highlight in the history of NPLD was 2008, when participants hoped to plant 1 million trees for the 75th anniversary of the Civilian Conservation Corps. They ended up planting over 1.6 million trees, far exceeding their goal.

    Every year on NPLD, amazing people from around the U.S. help support public lands through restoration efforts of national forests, clean-ups of urban green spaces, and simply enjoying the abundant public lands we have.

    In Arizona, we are lucky to have just over 30 million acres of federal public lands — that's a lot of land to hike through!

    So what should you do on NPLD?

    Get can visit national parks for free! Consider spending some time enjoying the national parks and forests in Arizona. You may even catch a glimpse of mule or White-tailed Deer, migratory bird species like the Rufous Hummingbird or Cedar Waxwing, or lovely butterflies feeding on milkweed.

    Many people also take part in a volunteer work project to help support conservation efforts in their area. You can visit the National Park Services website to find events in your state:

    Finally, if you're still unsure of what you want to do, choose your own adventure for NPLD!

  • September 21, 2022 4:47 PM | Anonymous

    I’ve lived in Arizona my whole life, so naturally I’ve gained an appreciation for the wildlife, wild places, and yes, even the weather we have here. I’m not ashamed to admit I actually like the heat! When I was growing up, my dad took every opportunity to drag me up to Big Lake and the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests, Roosevelt Lake, Saguaro Lake, and our own designated “Billy” Camp, named after my dad’s first hunting dog. 

    I was hiking in the desert or wandering around a rocky lakeshore almost every weekend from ages 6-13, and I both loved and hated it. Like so many children today, I loved being outside, but also longed to sleep in, stay home, and watch my tv shows or play on the computer — though back then, my computer was a huge, hulking machine that I shared with my family. Naturally, as I grew older, when my dad would ask me to go camping, hunting, fishing, or hiking with him, I chose to stay home. What could I have possibly been missing?

    I drew away from the wilds of Arizona and it’s one of my biggest regrets in life.

    Despite that loss, I somehow managed to pursue Biology in college. All around me were students who were hiking, rock climbing, and knew a million facts about Arizona wildlife and the state of water conservation. I felt like I knew nothing.

    Four years later, I signed up for a bird identification class without the slightest idea of how it would change the trajectory of my life.

    The first birding trip I went on was in Tempe, Arizona. One would assume that trip would be pretty dull. What could I have possibly seen other than a pigeon, dove, or European Starling? This is the first list of birds I found and identified on that trip in Tempe:

    It’s so easy to forget how diverse wildlife in Arizona is, and it’s especially easy to forget that when living in a paved, developed, vehicle-filled landscape. Seeing all of those birds, learning their names, and hearing their different calls spoke to me. The city is not dead — it’s alive and filled with so many different species that we share Arizona with.

    Green Heron seen in Kiwanis Park, Tempe.

    When I started birding in less urban landscapes that were less than an hour away, like the Glendale Recharge Ponds, my list of birds grew:

    It’s my greatest belief now that you can, and should, appreciate nature wherever you are coming from. Even if you live in the city, there’s always an animal or plant you can identify. When you explore wilder areas, your knowledge will only grow, and in my opinion, make you appreciate what lives in the city even more. The fact that those city wildlife manage to survive and even thrive makes them all the more wonderful. 

    The more aware you are of the wonderful wildlife around you, the greater your appreciation for nature, life, and Arizona’s beauty will be.

    This Saturday is National Public Lands Day, a day dedicated to the enjoyment and celebration of our public lands, where so much wildlife lives. How will you appreciate nature on the 24th?

  • September 09, 2022 10:04 AM | Anonymous

    Author: Michael Cravens

    I’ve been accused of being a little intense, maybe even a little obsessive, and I certainly can’t deny it. My whole life I’ve taken my interests to the extreme. Growing up, these interests varied but really only within the context of the outdoors and the wild animals found there. As a child, while other kids were playing sports, I was out catching snakes and hunting squirrels in the fields and forests near my Ozark home.

    Later on, once freed of the watchful eye of my mother, I would go on to search for wildlife and adventure throughout this country and abroad. Nature, and all that comes with it, has been an all-encompassing journey throughout my entire life and little has changed today. Well, little might be an understatement. Somehow, between all my tromping around in the wilderness, I managed to meet the woman of my dreams. This woman, despite her being completely normal and un-obsessive, became my wife. Together, we made the two most amazing little children I could have ever imagined. How I lucked into this amazing family will forever be a mystery to me and I can honestly say that a day doesn’t go by that in not in awe of it all. In fact, the intense love I have for my family is the only thing that has ever rivaled my love of the great outdoors.

    So, here I am, living my dream life. It’s true, I am, but its not without some serious conflict. You see, while I am absolutely crazy about my family, I never really shook that pesky obsession with the great outdoors. I would say that I need my time in the outdoors but that might sound like an excuse so I won’t say it. Let’s just say that my time spent pursuing game and fish is very… VERY… important to me. Of course, this is real life, grown up life, the rat race. We have bills to pay, children to feed, and a relationship to nurture. How does one do it all and still find the time that’s necessary to fill the freezer? If you find out, please let me know because I’m really struggling here. In the meantime, though, here’s a few things I’ve learned that might help smooth the way with the family and maximize your time in the outdoors.


    It never fails, I’ll be driving home from a multiday hunt, call my wife and, in the excitement of telling her all about it, I’ll get carried away and start planning my next hunt. I’ve always done this. I get so high on the experience that I just had that I can’t help but to start looking forward to the next one. To me, this is just harmless excitement but, to my wife, this sends a very different message. All she hears is that rather than being excited to come home and be with her and our children, all I care about is the next time I can get back to the mountains and away from them. Of course, this couldn’t be further from the truth. My wife and my children are always on my mind when I’m away and I miss them dearly. Fortunately, one thing we do well, despite my occasional thoughtlessness, is communicate well. Without this, I wouldn’t get to spend half of the time hunting and angling that I do. We talk about our feelings freely and often. This comes naturally to us and therefore it usually doesn’t take too long to smooth out a thoughtless and misplaced comment. For others though, who might not so freely air out their grievances, thoughtful communication is all the more important. A thoughtless and misplaced comment could fester for a long time and cause much resentment between your partner, you, and your time outdoors. Make it a point to work on your communication with your partner. Think about what you want to say before saying it and think about how it will be received. This sounds easy enough but it’s really not. Good communication takes practice and thought. Learn to communicate well and often and you might not just end up with more time outdoors but also maybe a better relationship to boot.


    My wife would laugh at me if she knew I was offering advise on planning to others. She has described me like in the likeness of a dog. Not necessarily in derogatory terms either. Rather in the sense that I live in the moment. I don’t dwell much on what happened yesterday and I don’t worry much about what’s happening tomorrow. While there are some obvious responsibility repercussions that come with this, she at least appreciates that I’m generally happy… much like a dog. I’m a generalist hunter, meaning I get equally excited about hunting squirrels as I do elk as I do ducks, and when summer rolls around there are trout waiting to have a fly cast to them. That’s not only a lot to fit into a calendar, it’s also a lot to ask of a partner. One thing that helps is to make good plans and communicate them to your partner (there’s that communication thing again). My wife and I both work full time and have two small children and, while I’d love to drop everything and run to the mountains every time a buddy calls or I just get excited about another opener, it’s simply not realistic or, for that matter, fair to my wife. While it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get to take every trip you want to, planning your season out to the best of your abilities, with your partners needs in mind, will unquestionably get you into the woods much more often.

    Love Language

    In full disclosure, I’m stealing this directly from the book, The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate by Gary Chapman. If you haven’t already, get this book and read it with your partner. It’s positive implications to your relationship will go far beyond benefiting your hunting and angling time. In short, learn what your partners love language is and make sure you’re speaking it. My wife’s love language is quality time spent together. In contrast, my love language is physical touch. All I need is a hug and a kiss and I’m good to go for a week alone in the wilderness. For my wife, this is far from the case. When first presented with this scenario, I mistakenly though that since we shared the same roof, we spent all the time together that was necessary. It took a deeper dive and deeper thought for me to understand that spending undistracted quality time with her was how she felt loved. Fortunately, I like my wife and spending time with her isn’t hard for me but that doesn’t mean that it’s always easy for me to get out of my own head and put my focus directly on her. This takes effort and is something that I have to stay continually mindful of. When your partner feels fully and completely loved your time away from them all of the sudden becomes free of jealous, hurt, or otherwise bad feelings that lead to strife and unrest in your relationship.

    It’s a Family Affair

    I had children for one reason, to create little partners to share outdoor adventures with. While I’m kidding, this isn’t completely untrue. Sharing my love of wild places and wildlife was one of my most exciting thoughts when thinking of having children. As it turns out, I had a lot to be excited about. My boy (seven) and my girl (five) have turned out to be better partners in the field and on the water than I ever dreamt. Of course, they never really stood a chance as I’ve been dragging them around the countryside since they were just babies. My little boy will fish all day without even a bite and not loose interest and my little girl will hike with me all day long following around our German short-haired pointer in search of birds. My wife, while not sharing my interest in hunting and angling, is a very enthusiastic hiker, backpacker, and camper and is at her happiest when we are all together as a family in the outdoors. All of this presents limitless opportunities for me to include my family in my outdoor pursuits. Of course, while there are times when I still value the solitude that only a solo multi-day backpack hunt can provide, I have come to equally enjoy trips with my family in tow. We might have to go a little slower and I might have to spend more time that I care to untangling flies from tree branches and bushes but, somehow, it’s all okay. There’s some strange magic at work here that can’t be put to words and can only be understood through the experience. While hunting and fishing trips can cause a lot of friction in a relationship through time spent apart, under the right circumstances, they can also provide the setting to build and strengthen those same relationships. Heck, my wife and I have even pulled off a romantic overnight backpacking ‘date night’ that doubled as a scouting trip.

    All of this is not meant to come across as a set of instructions that have been proven by someone who’s figured it all out. Also, this is not meant as a technique to manipulate your partner. This is about mutual respect and comes from years of struggle and communication with my wife. Still, my relentless (some might say obsessive) pushing to be out hunting or angling every chance I get is still our biggest argument. The difference is, what once was a severe point of contention and damaging to our relationship is now just an argument that can be worked through with communication and respect for each other’s feelings. Everyone’s situation is going be different. Some really struggle with communication and sharing their feelings, some, like me, are just terrible planners, some have no idea how to speak their partners love language, and some partners and children simply abhor everything about the outdoors. Still, by being mindful of and working at the ideas laid out here, there is a good chance you’ll end up with more time in the field and, even if you don’t, I promise you’ll find yourself in a healthier and happier relationship.

  • September 01, 2022 2:34 PM | Anonymous

    It’s almost been a year since the Ivory-billed Woodpecker, along with 22 other plants and animals, was officially declared extinct by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Destruction of their forest habitat largely caused the decline. Birders and conservationists around the world mourned the announcement. The loss of the third largest woodpecker in the world rang through the hearts of those passionate about wildlife and sparked a fearful feeling that more animals and plants — and especially birds — would become extinct because of human activity. In Arizona, we are particularly concerned about the loss of wildlife due to our 20+ year drought, the continual decline of the Colorado River, the ever-rising temperatures, and habitat loss.

    Our species are well-adapted to the heat, whether it’s pooping on their feet to keep cool (shout-out to Turkey Vultures) or hiding in saguaros. However, there’s still concern about how well Arizona animals and plants will continue to adapt to increasing temperatures and decreasing water. That harsh environment and harmful human activity have contributed to the loss and fragmentation of habitats. 

    One bird species in Arizona that is protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and listed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as a National Bird of Conservation Concern is the Burrowing Owl. I have had the chance to see a nest site with four Burrowing Owls in it only once — it was an incredible sight! 

    The main reason for the decline of Burrowing Owl populations here is habitat loss. As cities like Phoenix grow, the unfortunate result is the displacement of owls and the decrease in good habitats for them. However, something that many Arizonans don’t know is that land and wildlife managers are working to create artificial burrowing sites. Conservation groups and Non-Profit organizations across Arizona are working to protect Burrowing Owls and to help relocate them after displacement. 

    Recovering America’s Wildlife Act will further protect species in Arizona like the Burrowing Owl, the Cactus Ferruginous Pygmy owl, Apache Trout, and Black-footed Ferret. Read more about Recovering America's Wildlife Act here to see how you can help.

    Declaring a species extinct is no easy task — even now people report sightings of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker. An even more difficult task, however, is in deciding when to move on from an extinct species and begin helping those of greatest conservation need.

    To read more about the other Species of Greatest Conservation Need in Arizona, visit

Protecting wildlife and their habitats through education, inspiration, advocacy, and action since 1923


Arizona Wildlife Federation

PO Box 1182,  Mesa, AZ 85211
(480) 702-1365


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