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Stable deer populations reported at Ariz. preserve

Posted on March 15, 2013

Scottsdale, Ariz. (AP) - Arizona wildlife officials say an aerial survey of the McDowell Sonoran Preserve northeast of Scottsdale shows there are stable populations of deer and javelinas in the area.

The findings of the recent survey could impact decisions on bow hunting in the preserve, the Arizona Republic reported.

Bow hunting is currently allowed, but activists say the sport has the potential to harm hikers or reduce animal populations affected by encroaching development.

Arizona Game and Fish Department supervisor Tim Holt said his department plans to recommend to the state Game Commission that bow hunting continue in the preserve, which is bordered by the McDowell Mountain Regional Park and the Tonto National Forest.

"Believe it or not, our opinion is that the deer population is doing better in the park and preserve,'' he said.

Still, Holt said it's too early to make any official conclusions about animal populations. More surveys of the area's wildlife are planned.

At least three consecutive years of surveys are needed to confirm population trends, said Melanie Tluczek, a research coordinator with the McDowell Sonoran Field Institute, which is part of the nonprofit McDowell Sonoran Conservancy.

The conservancy paid for the two-day flyover in January. It was a joint effort that also involved the city of Scottsdale and the Game and Fish Department.

Scottsdale resident Michael Mayer has watched the issue carefully and said it was time for officials to start conducting animal counts in the area. He said he has watched populations decrease since 2003.

Conservancy executive director Mike Nolan said the survey is part of a larger biological inventory of the preserve spanning south from the Tonto forest to the southern slope of the McDowell Mountains.

"Until a month ago, we didn't have (population) counts,'' he said. "People were arguing... Nobody had ever looked at it, so nobody could say what's right.''

Nolan said the role of the conservancy is to gather data.

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