Come Chat About Lions, Bears, and CWD

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Want to chat about Arizona's lions and bears with professional wildlife research biologists? Interested in the latest fisheries research at Lake Pleasant? Do you have concerns about the possibility of chronic wasting disease coming to Arizona? If you have any of these questions or any other concerns, you should join the "Wednesday Night Wildlife Chats" with Arizona Game and Fish Department research biologists on the Internet. Join us on most Wednesday nights during January at azgfd.com and look for the chat-room link at the top of the page.

Jan. 8 -- Black Bears & Mountain Lions In Arizona
Bears and lions can evoke a lot of emotion -- both positive and negative. Although some people may think bears and lions are rare, they are actually numerous in certain parts of the state. However, it is rare to see one.

Stan Cunningham, a research biologist for the Game and Fish Department, will be available to chat about these two interesting species. Stan has been with the department for almost 20 years and has studied bears and lions for more than 10 years now.

For instance, what do you do when you find yourself face-to-face with a lion or bear? How are bears and lions affected by fire -- like this past summer's Rodeo-Chediski Fire? Why were so many black bears coming into Phoenix a few years ago? Chat with Stan for the answers.

Jan. 22 -- How Has The Increased Lake Size Affected The Lake Pleasant Fishery?
Research biologists working on the bass fishery at Lake Pleasant and the walleye fishery on the Salt River chain of lakes are hosting an on-line chat to answer your questions and discuss issues pertaining to those fisheries.

At Lake Pleasant, enlarging the reservoir 10 years ago has caused substantial changes in the fishery. Catch rates of largemouth bass have decreased. However, size structure and abundance remains relatively unchanged since construction of the new dam began in 1989.

The white bass population is as large and healthy as ever, but the invasion of striped bass may threaten the status of the other sport fish species.

Also, drastic fluctuations in water levels may be detrimental to the sunfish population as well as some other species.

The walleye fishery in the Salt River lakes has been somewhat of a mystery to anglers since stockings began over 25 years ago. Questions surrounding abundance, distribution, growth rates, food habits, reproduction and stocking success were addressed with a three- year research project. Preliminary results indicate that the walleye population in all three lakes is abundant and in very good condition, primarily feeding on threadfin shad. Reproduction, however, has not been detected and the population will have to rely on stockings of fry to persist.

Jan. 29 -- Wildlife Diseases
Shelli Dubay will be available in the chat room to answer disease-related questions. This research biologist has studied wildlife health issues for nearly a decade. Her studies include disease of moose and deer and nutritional ecology of small mammals.

Shelli is also a department expert on Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). This disease - caused by an infectious protein called a prion - affects deer and elk. Thus far, it has not been detected in wild populations in Arizona.

Arizona Game and Fish Department biologists collected more than 500 blood samples from bighorn sheep, mule deer, white-tailed deer, pronghorn and elk this year. Those samples are being tested for exposure to hemorrhagic disease viruses. Hemorrhagic disease is caused by two viruses that affect deer, pronghorn, bighorn sheep and elk. Significant population effects have been documented after outbreaks of hemorrhagic disease in these species, so research has been initiated to investigate the disease in Arizona.