You can never have enough of  NATURE. — Henry David Thoreau



Rim Country, White Mountains of Arizona and Beyond...

Located in the Northeastern Region of Arizona. Adventure starts on AZ Highway 87 (Beeline) from Roosevelt Lake, through Payson, turns right onto AZ Highway 260 and travels through Christopher Creek and Kohl's Ranch, climbs up the Mogollon Rim to Forest Lakes and Heber, then continues on to Show Low, Snowflake, Vernon, Concho, Pinetop-Lakeside, Hon-Dah, Sunirse Park Resort, Greer and on to Springerville and Alpine. Along the way there are trails, river and lakes, State Parks, ski hills, National Forests and much more!

The Bighorn Sheep of AZ Route 260

By Diane Tilton, AZGFD Information and Education Programs Manager


Have you noticed the sheep crossing highway signs on Highway 260 heading east toward Springerville and Eagar? Many people have asked me what those signs are for. Over the last few years, Arizona Game & Fish (AZGFD) has translocated Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep from the Morenci Mine to the South Fork of the Little Colorado River area near Greer. This translocation had two objectives. The primary objective was to reestablish the bighorn sheep in an area where we knew they had historically been. Until recently, this area was not considered suitable habitat for a release because of a domestic sheep allotment on U. S. Forest Service land. Domestic sheep can very easily transfer diseases to our native sheep. When a sheep allotment was turned into a cattle allotment, we thought it would be a good time to move some sheep back into the area.

In Arizona, we have two different subspecies of sheep. Both sheep are the same species, Ovis READ MORE...

Arizona Game & Fish Dept. · 5000 W. Carefree Hwy, Phoenix, AZ 85086

(602) 942-3000 ·


Region I - Pinetop

2878 E. White Mountain Blvd.

Pinetop, AZ 85935



Counting Critters in the White Mountains

By Dan Groebner


As the monsoon season begins to wind down, elk and antelope herds are often seen from our mountain highways and forest roads.  Some herds can be enormous.  We also see the fruits of wildlife courting behavior, with flocks of turkey poults (chicks) hunting down crickets and other insects in grassy fields like a school of piranha in the Amazon.  You might even get lucky with a visual of a pair of twin fawns with their mother.  And we have all been “serenaded” with the raucous and rowdy calls of young fledgling acorn woodpeckers as they begin to collect acorns to cache in holes, cracks and excavations for use during the long winter months.


So, obviously, Mother Nature produces lots of new animals every year.  We haven't been overrun or out-competed by any wild animals yet so what happens to all these new animals?  That's what wildlife biologists try to figure out.  Sometimes the biologists count game animals to determine how many can be harvested during the hunting season to maintain the population at the desired level.  Other times, biologists need to READ MORE...

The Hummingbirds of Arizona

By Diane Tilton,

AZGFD Information & Education Manager


Of the 14 species of hummingbirds, four can be commonly found in the White Mountains. Birds, including hummingbirds and doves, are important pollinators throughout the world. Other birds which serve as tropical pollinators include honeycreepers in Hawaii, honeyeaters in Australia and sunbirds in the Old World tropics.  Globally, there are 2,000 bird species that feed on nectar and/or the insects and spiders associated with nectar bearing flowers. Ornithophily is the term for pollination by birds. Try and say that fast five times.

Flowers that are visited by hummingbirds are typically tubular with petals that are recurved to allow the bird access to the nectar. The plants will have strong supports for perching. The flowers are brightly colored (usually red, yellow or orange) and odorless since birds have a poor sense of smell.

Hummingbirds have good vision and, of all the colors, they seem to be extremely


Keep Wildlife Wild- Please Don’t Feed Them

By Diane Tilton,

AZGFD Education and Information


We love our wildlife here in the White Mountains. But often times, we do things we think are helping wildlife and we just end up creating problems for the wildlife and our neighbors. The Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) gets a lot of calls from around the state about nuisance animals. These calls vary from neighbors bird feeder is attracting too many birds and they are creating a mess in their yard to feeding deer and javelina that are bringing in mountain lions.

I started my career with AZGFD as a wildlife manager (game warden) in the Tucson area. The two years I spent as the urban officer taught me a lot! For one thing, I got very good at herding javelina (imagine trying to herd cats that will bite through a neighborhood while the curious neighbors record you on their cell phones). Another thing I became very proficient in was working with people feeding wildlife.

People feel wildlife for two main reasons. One, they like to see the wildlife in their yard. Two, they think the animals need the food to survive. I can’t disagree with the value of being able to sit and enjoy a yard with the sights and sounds of birds enjoying the food and water you’ve provided. But putting out food for other critters is where we start getting into trouble.

In Arizona it’s illegal to feed wildlife, except for tree squirrels or birds, in counties larger than 280,000. That includes Maricopa, Pinal, and Pima counties. Many counties and cities have developed their own local ordinances to stop attracting wildlife into urban areas. READ MORE...

Leave Baby Wildlife Alone

By Diane Tilton, AZGFD Information and

Education manager


There’s something about seeing a small, young animal alone that makes us want to save it. But the thing is… most of these animals aren’t in need of rescue. Usually when a young animal is found alone, the mother is close by and just out feeding and will return to care for her young. When humans “help” or “rescue” wildlife, there are often unintended consequences for the animal, including death. Unless there is an extreme circumstance, the best thing you can do for the animal is to leave it alone.


Baby rabbits are usually found under cover, like bushes or debris piles.  Mother rabbits usually feed their young a few times a day, most likely at dawn and dusk. If you find baby rabbits, please leave them alone and recover them if needed. If your pet finds the baby rabbit, return it to the nest if it’s not injured. If it is injured, contact the nearest Arizona Game and Fish Department (AGFD) office for guidance.

Elk and deer mothers will often leave their young hidden in vegetation for several hours while they are out feeding.  If a fawn or calf attempts to follow you, gently push on its shoulders until it lies down.  Don’t attempt to capture the fawn or calf, even if it appears to READ MORE...

Create a

Bird-Friendly Yard

By Diane Tilton, AZGFD

Photo by George Andrejko


Have you noticed that the birds around your house have changed as the weather has cooled down? My hummingbird feeder is long gone since the wee birds have moved on to a warmer climate.

Fall and winter bird feeding can benefit birds and create some exciting bird watching opportunities from the warmth of your house. You don’t need to wait until there’s snow on the ground to start feeding your neighborhood birds. In the fall, there are still plenty of wild food options for the birds but they are also starting to scout out feeders so they are ready when the cold weather arrives. The birds know they need to be ready so they are checking out your neighborhood so they will be ready when they need some supplemental food. If you wait until the freezing weather arrives, the birds will go where they know the food is; they won’t have the time and energy to explore for food in your backyard.

In the winter time, their caloric needs will increase just as natural food sources become limited; feeding birds can be the most beneficial for them this time of year. Birds, like all wildlife, need three things…food, water and shelter. .....READ MORE...

Wild Things to Avoid!

By Dan Groebner


   Hiking, camping, hunting and fishing are some of the safest healthy physical activities.  You can not only become more physically fit, but mental health also gets better with outdoor activities for many people.  When we make efforts to be in the “wild”, we usually want to see, hear, and experience wild things.  Fortunately, 99% of  those wild things are safe and won't harm us.  However, certain precautions can make the experience even safer and more enjoyable.

    The following information is not intended to scare anyone, or be a complete review of all dangers encountered on our ventures. You always have to be aware of unique dangerous situations.  For example, a rock that makes a nice stepping stone can be an ankle breaker if stepped on awkwardly.  A good day can turn back quickly if you're not prepared for the basic wild things that we can count on up here in the White Mountains and Rim Country.  We have little reason to not be prepared for bad weather such as cold rains and wind in the summer along with sudden, blinding snowstorms in the fall, winter and spring.  Exploring unfamiliar territory means you should have a map, compass, GPS, and knowledge how to use them.  This article focuses on the wildlife of the White Mountain area, so cockroaches and scorpions and unruly neighbors are not   Read More...

Water for Wildlife

By Evan Lautzenheiser, Wildlife Manager AZGFD


It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Arizona is a dry state, especially if you live in one of Arizona’s largest population centers. It is true, most of Arizona is comprised of low desert or Sonoran Desert habitat types. But if you think of Arizona’s high country, you probably don’t think that water, especially year-round water, is limited for wildlife.  We tend to think that when we’re surrounded by big, tall Ponderosas or standing in a stand of aspens that there has to be a water source nearby…a creek, a pond, something. Right?  Wrong.   There are huge tracks of land in the high country, particularly along the Mogollon Rim, that would not have a year-long water source unless we people created them. There are numerous types of constructed waters, with probably even more labels to describe them. These could include trick tanks, guzzlers, spring boxes, dirt tanks, stock tanks, catch basins, lakes, ponds, etcetera.  Some were developed for livestock; some were developed for water storage or flood control or recreation and some were developed specifically for our wildlife.

I began my career as a wildlife manager (WM) with the Arizona Game and Fish Department over 10 years ago and could honestly say that, at that point, I didn’t know much about wildlife waters. I graduated from Humboldt State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Wildlife Management so I knew that wildlife waters were a tool in the wildlife biologist’s tool box but it was one I had never needed to use. I


Bears Are Active; Time to Make Sure Your Home Un-Friendly

Diane Tilton, AZGFD Region I

Information & Education Program Manager


How does the Arizona Game & Fish Department (AZGFD) mark the start of spring here in the White Mountains? Bear calls! With the longer days and warmer temperatures, the bears are coming out of hibernation and are looking for food. If you, like me, have gotten into the habit of putting out your trash the night before collection day, now is the time to stop. From now until about December, you’ll need to get up early and take the trash out on collection day.

Bears are lazy and love food so your leftovers or bird food is an easy meal for them. When you’re in bear country, which can include both undeveloped forest areas along with residential and business areas, it is important to be aware of possible bear interactions and to reduce the chances for conflicts when possible. The occurrence of injuries to humans by bears is rare, however it can happen. Unfortunately, Arizona’s first-ever fatal bear attack happened in Pinetop in 2011. How we act in bear country can ultimately affect the safety of others recreating or living in the same area.

The greatest attractant to bears is food and most human-bear conflicts are associated with its availability. In the wild, bears use berries, nuts, grasses and insects as food sources. Bears are also attracted to human-generated food sources, including garbage, bird seed, hummingbird feeders, pet food and fruit trees.

The department recognizes the potential risks to humans and bears and can spend a considerable amount of time and resources every year removing and relocating bears. Removing a bear does not solve


Pinetop Wetland Project Update

Photo and text By Dan Groebner


On your next visit to the Pinetop Arizona Game and Fish Department office and the trail head for the TRACKS organization maintained Hatchery Trail, you might just hear a new voice emanating from the nearby wetland.  Northern leopard frogs were introduced last summer and survived the winter just fine, announcing their success with resounding croaking and calling this spring as they laid their first egg masses, creating the next generation.  Cooler weather quiets them a bit but this summer you should be able to hear them from the convenient handicapped accessible viewing platform built next to the main parking lot.  The larger adult frogs can be seen in the pond if you have sharp eyes or binoculars.  Even though these frogs are not on any endangered species list yet, they are uncommon in Arizona and the western United States so the objective is to recover their numbers before they need to be listed as threatened or endangered.

 Along with the documented breeding of the leopard frogs, the four narrow-headed garter snakes, released last summer after being raised in captivity at Northern Arizona University


The Courtship of Birds

By Diane Tilton

Will You Be My Valentine?


You can’t walk into a retail store this time of year without being reminded that Valentine’s Day is near. While wildlife don’t participate in the holiday, they do have some interesting mating strategies. While I was studying wildlife management at the University of Arizona, evolutionary biology was one of my favorite courses, especially when it came to mating behaviors and physical adaptations or sexual selection.

Males’ and females’ reproductive behavior is often very different. Courtship is usually instigated by males and they will often fight for the chance to mate with a female. Females, on the other hand, will seldom fight over males and will often reject the advances of a male. Why the drastic difference? It comes down to the cost of producing sperm vs. the egg. Sperm are inexpensive to make, one male produces enough to sire a lot of offspring. Females will produce fewer eggs because they also have to nourish the young so a lot more energy goes into producing each one. Basically, males can afford to increase their mating success by mating with as many females as possible but females must choose who they believe will provide their offspring with the best genes.

There are some pretty extravagant traits that have evolved as a result of males signaling to females their qualities as a potential mate. Sexual selection is the selection of traits that offer advantages during courtship or the competition for mates or resources. Sometimes by having better, more competitive resources, a male will gain exclusive access to mates that are attracted to the resources those males are in control of.

An obvious example would be in peafowl. The male, the peacock, has a large iridescent tail.  Why would the female (or peahen) favor the long, showy tail? Likely because the peacock’s ability to grow and maintain this dramatic tail, which obviously carries a significant energetic READ MORE...

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