PHOENIX — A lackluster monsoon has contributed to dry conditions across Arizona, which means the heat is really on for the Arizona Game and Fish Department.
The AZGFD announced this month that, since January 2018, the department has transported more than 1.5 million gallons of water, either by land or air, to catchments for wildlife throughout the state.
Game and Fish maintains 3,000 such catchments in the state and has recorded countless animals making use of them.
“Water catchments are used by all wildlife and, while badly needed monsoon rains recently returned, storms are often sporadic, and large sections of the state do not receive adequate water to sustain local wildlife populations,” said Joseph Currie, AZGFD habitat planning program manager. “By hauling to water catchments, we’re helping to prevent the localized wildlife die-offs that could happen if water simply wasn’t available.”
According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, despite being at the height of the monsoon season, Arizona has seen sporadic and isolated rain across the state, leading to unseasonably dry conditions.
“The northern two-thirds of Arizona are now either abnormally dry (D0) or in moderate drought (D1). Only Santa Cruz, Pima and Graham counties remain essentially drought-free as the monsoon has been most active in southern Arizona,” the Arizona Department of Water Resources wrote.
Southern Greenlee, in the Duncan area, was listed as abnormally dry, according to the provided data.
Arizona Department of Water Resources cautioned that while above normal rainfall is predicted for the coming months, it may not be a substantial enough amount as the state enters a drier period. That means escalating costs for the AZGFD to continue to provide water for wildlife.
“Given that AZGFD doesn’t receive state general fund tax dollars, costs to drive and airlift water continue to mount,” Game and Fish officials said.
In response last year, Game and Fish began a campaign called Water for Wildlife that allows the public to donate money to support the department's efforts.
“Because of the donations, the department was able to purchase a trailer and new tires for a water-hauling truck, fuel and help offset costs to airlift water to catchments for bighorn sheep,” AZGFD said.
To learn more about the Water for Wildlife campaign visit http://www.azwildlifehero.com/ or text SENDWATER to 41444 to make a donation.