New mule deer study in McDowell Mountains to help conserve species

(submitted photo)

(submitted photo)

The Arizona Game and Fish Department, city of Scottsdale and McDowell Sonoran Conservancy‘s Field Institute will soon begin a multi-year study of mule deer within the McDowell Mountains east of Scottsdale.

Up to 32 mule deer will be outfitted with GPS radio-telemetry tracking collars that will enable biologists to study movement patterns and habitat preferences within the Scottsdale McDowell Sonoran Preserve and surrounding habitat.

As part of the study, area residents and recreationists within Scottsdale’s McDowell Sonoran Preserve, McDowell Mountain Regional Park, Tonto National Forest, and Fountain Hills’ McDowell Mountain Preserve may observe low-flying aircraft from Feb. 1-5, according to a press release.

Identifying important wildlife movement corridors and considering them as the local area continues to grow and develop helps ensure that mule deer will continue to live in the Scottsdale McDowell Sonoran Preserve and surrounding areas.

Project funding came from several conservation partners, primarily through grants awarded to the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy’s Field Institute through the Globe Foundation and a grant awarded to the city of Scottsdale from the Salt River Pima – Maricopa Indian Community.

The city of Scottsdale and McDowell Sonoran Conservancy are partnering with the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Wildlife Contracts Branch to perform the capture, monitoring, data analysis and reporting. Staff and volunteers from the city of Scottsdale and the Field Institute will also assist with the project.

The Field Institute is the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy’s research center. Its mission is to conduct ecological research through partnerships and citizen science for long-term natural resource management of the Scottsdale McDowell Sonoran Preserve, education and to contribute to broader scientific knowledge.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Wildlife Contracts Branch is a new program based on an innovative model of wildlife conservation. The program’s team of experts works with public agencies and private entities to perform, on a contracted basis, high-quality species research, environmental compliance surveys and monitoring in a variety of contexts.

The five major focus areas of the program are: wildlife connectivity and habitat fragmentation mitigation; implementation of wildlife research contracts and grants to conduct sensitive species surveys, monitoring and distribution studies; in-lieu fee/mitigation banking habitat restoration and administration and implementation of a Natural Resources Damage Assessment and Restoration program; and, renewable energy and its effects on wildlife and associated habitats.

For general information about the Scottsdale McDowell Sonoran Preserve visit www.ScottsdaleAZ.gov/Preserve.

For general information about the McDowell Sonoran Field Institute visit www.mcdowellsonoran.org/content/pages/fieldInstitute#sthash.EZg3q1Hj.dpbs.

For more information about Game and Fish’s Contracts Branch, visit www.azgfd.gov/contracts.

The Scottsdale Independent is published monthly and mailed to 75,000 homes and businesses in Scottsdale.

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