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Beginning Friday, March 23, the Arizona Game and Fish Department will temporarily close to all public entry the Raymond Wildlife Area, located 30 miles east of Flagstaff, until June 20.
Recently, the Game and Fish Commission approved the closure to assist wildlife managers with their efforts to maintain the local bison herd on the department-owned property. The closure is necessary to protect ranching operations and property of nearby neighbors, as well as the safety of the public visiting the wildlife area.
The bison have been moving off the wildlife area because of pressure from visitors along with hunting activity. Although bison are the largest land mammal in North America, they can get nervous very easily and react by running away. A fast-moving 2,000-pound animal can be very dangerous for anyone or anything in its way.
Bison have been living on the Raymond Wildlife Area since 1945 when they were brought there from the department-owned House Rock Valley Wildlife Area. This move was necessary due to drought conditions threatening the survival of the House Rock herd. The Raymond Wildlife Area covers approximately 15,000 acres and is located 12 miles south of Interstate 40 and the Buffalo Range Road exit (225).
"Without people approaching them, the bison may stay on the wildlife area through the early calving season," says Ron Sieg, supervisor for the Flagstaff Regional Office. "We will feed the bison to encourage them to stay on the wildlife area until the grass starts greening up."
Game and Fish will be posting information about the closure at the Buffalo Range Road exit off I-40 and all entrances to the wildlife area. Information will also be available on the department's website.
The department would like to remind everyone that when observing wildlife, remember to do so at a safe distance, and do not feed or try to approach wildlife.
To learn more, visit the Arizona Game and Fish Department website at www.azgfd.gov.
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