The Arizona Game and Fish Department annual aerial surveys of big game populations in southeastern Arizona will continue in January.

Helicopter flights lasting approximately five hours are scheduled as follows for outlying areas:

·        Jan. 4 to Jan. 6 near Tucson, Marana, Oracle and Vail,

·        Jan. 7 to Jan. 9 near Arivaca, Amado and Nogales,

·        Jan.  10 to Jan. 14 near Sierra Vista, Benson, Tombstone and Sonoita-Patagonia,

·        Jan 15 to Jan. 19 near Douglas, Willcox, Safford and McNeal.

Fixed-wing aircraft were used to do surveys in December, and may be scheduled in January through early February if needed.

Game and Fish routinely conducts big game surveys with aircraft in all of Arizona’s Game Management Units.  These flights are a vital tool used by wildlife managers to accurately set annual hunt permit numbers to ensure the fitness of big game populations.

“Although we attempt to conduct these flights so that there is minimal conflict with ongoing hunts, surveys may overlap with an open hunt,” said Regional Supervisor Raul Vega of Game and Fish in Tucson.

Hunters may encounter low flying Game and Fish Department aircraft conducting big game surveys during weekdays and on weekends, specifically in the area of Fort Huachuca due to weekday flight restrictions that are in place.

 It is illegal for any aircraft to pursue wildlife during an established hunting season except for official game management purposes.

Those who witness any type of aircraft displaying such activity should call the Operation Game Thief hotline at 1-800-352-0700.

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