History of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks Program
In the early 1900's deer were plentiful on the Hualapai Reservation. Tribal Members hunted deer year round for sustenance and it had been stated that the reservation was home to the largest deer in the world. At the time when Sterling Mahone was Chairman for the Hualapai Tribe and Bill Andrews was Tribal Councilman, the Tribal Council was selling 250-300 deer permits a year to non-tribal members
Early in 1963, the Hualapai Tribal Council started negotiations with the Arizona Game and Fish Department on the advisability of transplanting elk on the reservation north of Peach Springs.
Don Wingfield, Regional Supervisor of Region III, was asked to represent the Arizona Game and fish Department in the evaluation of the proposed site. At that time, it was determined that approximately 55,000 acres of suitable elk habitat existed. Wingfield submitted a report to the Phoenix Office of the Game Department favoring the release.
Based on this report, the Hualapai Tribe was granted permission by the Arizona Game and Fish Commission to transport elk into Arizona from Wyoming. The Tribal Council corresponded with Yellowstone National Park officials and was assured of the desired number of elk.
Elk from the northern Yellowstone National Park herd were trapped in December 1963 near Slough Creek, Wyoming. They arrived at Peach Springs in a two-sectional semi-trailer on December 22 after being in transit for 36 hours over 1,213 miles.
The original shipment consisted of the 40 elk, however 3 adult cows died enroute and another cow, weak from the long trip and from being trampled, died December 23. The elk released consisted of 2 adult bulls, 5 spike bulls, 18 cows, 6 cow calves, and 5 bull calves.
Those present at the release were Sterling Mahone, Chairman of the Hualapai Tribal Council; Grant Tapija, Jr., Council Member; Inez Tapija, Treasurer; Charles Bandy and Norman Imus, Bureau of Indian Affairs; William Bailey and George Welsh, Arizona Game and Fish Department; several Tribal members and residents of Peach Springs.
Park Tanks, the release site, is located approximately 30 miles northeast of Peach Springs at an elevation of about 6,500 feet. The predominant overstory is ponderosa pine with small pockets of Gambel oak. The mixed understory is cliff-rose, mountain mahogany, ceanothus, turbinella oak, along with numerous forbs and grasses. Two small burned areas and one large 14,000 acre burn are located north and east of Park Tanks. The burns have been reseeded and have good stands of grasses and forbs.
Water, normally abundant in earthen tanks, could present a problem during severe droughts. This situation is mitigated somewhat by approximately 60 miles of pipeline and metal storage tanks, that occur within the present elk range. Water, then, can be pumped from 2 pump house stations to the tanks.
This nucleus herd of 36 Rocky Mountain elk successfully expanded their numbers and range enough that the Tribe saw the need to hire a wildlife manager. Monroe Beecher, who was working for 427 Operating Engineers, was the only one to respond to the Tribeís job announcement for someone to oversee the Wildlife Department. The Tribe initiated their first public hunt in 1971. Ten permits were authorized at $100.00 each; six were sold and four bull elk harvested.
In 1987, Edgar Walema, Tribal Councilman, initiated the P.L. 98-638 process to separate the responsibilities of Wildlife Conservation to Marketing and Management. In 1989, the Tribe developed a cooperative agreement to contract the Wildlife Management Program from the Bureau of Indian Affairs in the amount of $47,000. For the Tribeís Wildlife Management Department, the Tribe hired Don Bay as the wildlife biologist who hired Clay Bravo and Travis Majenty as the technicians.
Today, the Wildlife Management Department has evolved into the Hualapai Department of Natural Resources (HDNR). Under direction of the Department of Natural Resources, the Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks Program manages the wildlife, its habitats, and their predators.
We recognize the
spiritual, cultural, and economic value of the wildlife and recreation
resources and that these resources are an irreplaceable tribal asset. We
also recognize that unregulated use of the wildlife and recreation
resources of the tribe would threaten the political integrity, economic
security, and health and welfare of the Hualapai Tribe. We will strive to
preserve, protect, and improve the tribes natural and recreation resources
so that tribal members and future generations shall be afforded the
greatest possible freedom to use and enjoy their Reservationís resources.
Goals and Objectives
The goals of the Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks Program, under direction of the Department of Natural Resources, are to preserve and protect the natural resources of the Hualapai Tribe. More specifically, the objectives of the Program are to annually collect, sound reliable information that will assist the Program in carrying out management plans and developing recommendations concerning fish, wildlife, and outdoor recreation resources.
Objective 1: In coordination with HDNR, the Program, with Tribal Council Approval, may negotiate with other agencies, public and private, to conduct fish and wildlife research and cooperative management oriented programs on the Hualapai Indian Reservation and adjacent lands and waters. These interests may also include fisheries, forestry, range, livestock, recreational development, mining, pesticides, and pollution of air, water, and land.
Objective 2: Conduct annual surveys (big game inventories) to determine big game herd composition and production ratios, annual game bird production surveys, big game utilization and trend studies, population age structures, genetics, define key areas of game use, analyze harvested animals and numbers taken and review all other project proposals which may affect wildlife populations.
Objective 3: Work cooperatively with our Grand Canyon Resort Corporation Wildlife Conservation Program in setting of hunting seasons, setting of bag limits, and measuring harvested game.
Objective 4: Utilize harvest data for management decisions and management planning, as a tool when conducting research, and in initiating predator control.
Objective 5: Locate areas for conservation improvements, design and install wildlife and livestock habitat improvements.
Objective 6: Act as secondary law enforcement for the Reservation
Objective 7: Assist the Natural Resources Department and Programs whenever necessary.
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