March 2, 2016

Record $2.4 million raised for Habitat Partnership Committee

Special big game permit-tags help fund wildlife habitat management

PHOENIX — Once again, hunters have come through in a big way in their support of Arizona’s wildlife.

A record $2.4 million was raised during the 2015-16 funding cycle for the Habitat Partnership Committee (HPC), mostly through the auctioning or raffling of special big game permit-tags, although the committee strives to incorporate multiple funding sources to bring the maximum benefit to wildlife. Proceeds are expected to fund more than 70 projects to improve habitat or management for big game species. Those same projects mutually benefit other wildlife as well.

“The biggest thing about (HPC) is the partnerships and how they benefit wildlife in this state,” said Clay Crowder, committee coordinator and a wildlife specialist for the Arizona Game and Fish Department. “The funds have to stay in the state, and they have to go back to help the individual species.”

The Arizona Game and Fish Commission annually approves three special big game permit-tags, per species, that are awarded to nonprofit wildlife conservation organizations to auction or raffle. Every dollar generated from these auctions and raffles comes back to the department and is used to benefit the species for which the special big game permit-tag is issued. Funds are allocated through the HPC program by collaboration between the department and the organizations. Once project proposals are submitted, the department coordinates with the organizations, and funding is allocated to the projects that provide the most benefit to big game species in Arizona.

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“HPC builds partnerships with hunters, land management agencies, ranchers and wildlife conservation organizations,” said James Ammons, Game and Fish commissioner and committee chairman.

“It is encouraging to see Arizona’s habitat and wildlife benefiting from these endeavors.” So far, 2016 has been a record-setting year for the auctioning of special big game permit-tags.

• $380,000 for a desert bighorn sheep permit-tag. The previous high was $303,000 in 1993.
• $400,000 for a mule deer permit-tag. The previous high was $320,000 in 2015.
• $55,000 for a Coues white-tailed deer permit-tag. The previous high was $43,000 in 2015.

Amber Munig, the department’s big game management program supervisor, attended the recent Wild Sheep Foundation (WSF) Convention and Sporting Expo in Reno, Nev., where the historic bighorn sheep tag was auctioned.

“We are extremely excited to see our tag sell so well and thankful for the bidders and their interest in Arizona desert bighorn sheep,” Munig said. “The funding will allow us to expand disease monitoring of various populations, which informs our translocation program, and to improve water in areas that we just haven’t been able to get to.”

Additional special big game permit-tags will be coming up for auction or raffle in the coming weeks: Arizona Desert Bighorn Sheep Society (ADBSS) annual banquet, 6 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 27, Chaparral Suites Scottsdale, 5001 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale. Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, mountain lion, pronghorn (for Arizona Antelope Foundation).

Arizona Elk Society, 4 p.m. March 19, Mesa Convention Center, 263 N. Center St., Mesa. Elk.

Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation “Hunter Rendezvous,” 11 a.m. March 26, JW Marriott Tucson Starr Pass Resort and Spa, 3800 W. Starr Pass Blvd., Tucson. Elk, bison.

For more information about the committee, visit