PHOENIX – Hunters rejoice, you now have access to approximately 1 million acres of public and state trust lands within municipal boundaries this hunting season, but there are regulation changes that relate to these new opportunities and public safety that hunters need to know.
These opportunities required amending the 2011-12 Arizona Hunting and Trapping Regulations, as well as the 2011 Pronghorn Antelope and Elk Hunt Regulations because the changes to state law became effective after these publications were distributed.
In an interest of time and as a cost savings measure, Game and Fish will NOT be reprinting the 2011-12 Arizona Hunting and Trapping regulations, or the 2011 Pronghorn Antelope and elk Hunt Draw Information Booklet.
“Basically, because of these law changes, Arizona hunters now have access to the undeveloped lands on the fringes of municipal boundaries that were once off limits, much of it is perfect for safe recreational small game hunting using shotguns, which have a short effective range,” said Chief of Wildlife Recreation, Craig McMullen.
McMullen also expressed, citizens can feel safe because the Game and Fish Commission, a public body, has prohibited the use of long-range firearms like rifles, muzzleloaders, or pistols on private property in city limits and in metropolitan hunt units. In addition, a core area in metro Phoenix was closed to hunting. These restrictions were implemented to minimize conflicts in urban areas and to assure public safety.
Because of these law changes, hunters will need to download and print the amended regulations (changes are indicated in red font), to get the latest legal hunting requirements. Most of the changes are identified in the notes section for each species in the regulations.
Hunters should carefully read these notes to learn about any restrictions to methods of take, and modifications to open areas for most species including, but not limited to elk, antelope, deer, quail, rabbits, predators, and fur-bearing mammals. The latest regulations are available at the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s website at www.azgfd.gov/rules.
The regulations were amended because of recent law changes to ARS §13-3107 and §13-3108 that transferred the authority to regulate the use of firearms for the take wildlife within municipal boundaries to the Arizona Game and Fish Commission. The commission amended the appropriate hunting seasons and regulations at its Aug. 6 public meeting to comply with the new legislation.
While there are many changes to the regulations due to the change of authority, much of these changes are to mimic sensible restrictions that were already in place through other regulations such as overarching state laws, intergovernmental agreements, or other means.
“The good news is, hunters that haven’t heard about these recent law changes and are following the original regulations will not be hunting in city limits, because those originally issued publications do not make specific allowances for hunting within municipal boundaries,” said McMullen.
Before the law change, it was against the law to shoot a firearm, even while taking wildlife, within city limits. Under the new authority of the commission, the hunting regulations have been amended to assure public safety, while also providing as much hunting opportunity as possible.
This is done by implementing seasons that do not permit high-power rifles in certain areas, closing populated urban centers, or through continued communication of the state law that prohibits hunting with a firearm within a quarter mile of an occupied building.
Some of the key changes to the regulations that hunters and the public need to know about, include, but are not limited to:
- Closed to hunting – A large portion of the Phoenix metropolitan area is closed to hunting. For boundary description and area map, visit www.azgfd.gov/rules.
- Closed to hunting – Golf courses, airports, and posted water treatment facilities are closed to hunting.
- Closed to hunting with firearms: Private lands in both the Tucson and Flagstaff metro hunt units (11M and 38M respectively) are closed to all hunting during firearms seasons, including those for shotgun shooting shot. Hunting with a firearm inside city limits in these populated metro units is only permitted on public and state trust lands.
- Closed to hunting during “General Firearm Rifle Seasons” – Private property within city limits is closed to all hunting during “general firearm rifle seasons” using any weapon type including a rifle, pistol, muzzleloader as well as bow and arrows. There are some limited exclusions for wildlife management needs.
- Open to hunting with restrictions – Generally, county and city parks and preserves are closed to hunting. The Commission opened some county parks in Pima and Maricopa County for hunting. For the Pima and Maricopa County parks and/or preserves that are open to hunting by commission order, further restrictions make it unlawful to take wildlife within a quarter mile of a developed campground, picnic area, occupied building, boat ramp, shooting range, or golf course.
- Open to hunting with restrictions – Private property inside city limits not already excluded (i.e. 11M, 38M and Phoenix metro area) are only open to hunting during “limited weapon, shotgun shooting shot seasons.”
Reptile hunting and collection restrictions – Hunting reptiles with a firearm is closed statewide on private property inside city limits, city and county parks and preserves, golf courses, airports and posted water treatment facilities. A limited weapon season, which does not include the use of firearms, was created for taking/collecting reptiles in these areas closed to firearms.
To learn more about these recent law changes, and how Game and Fish has implemented these changes to assure the public’s safety, while still providing hunting opportunity in these undeveloped, uninhabited public lands in municipalities, visit www.azgfd.gov/rules.