You might have noticed several changes recently at the Verde and Salt rivers. During the Fall Overhaul event in October 2013, Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community employees removed old signposts, barbed wire, miscellaneous scrap metal and old trash barrels from the river roads. The employee volunteers painted and decorated new trash barrels, which are now ready to accept your garbage.
The North Gate (by the A-Frame Ranger Station) has been closed now for about a month; we would like to see this gate stay closed (but unlocked). If you come upon the gate and it is closed, you can still go through, but be sure to close it behind you and secure the metal arm. Along with police enforcement, keeping this gate closed should reduce non-Community-member traffic in the area, helping to protect the bald eagles that are nesting there.
The Salt River Fire Department posted a new sign at the A-Frame indicating low fire danger, thanks to all the new grass sprouting up in the area. This can change as weather changes or as the fire department directs us. Please be careful with open burning and be aware of any dry brush/wood remaining on the ground that can spark a fire.
Restricted Areas and Wildlife
Traffic continues to flow through the river area, from foot traffic to bicycles and vehicles. Some areas, although they are within the Community, are restricted and should be avoided. Signs to that effect are posted. One of these areas is around the City of Phoenix/Salt River Project—Verde Water Treatment Plant. This area is leased to the City of Phoenix and it is their property. There are also hidden dangers and safety issues for the average person. If you are contacted by a security officer or a Salt River Police Department Officer in this area, you are trespassing and could face trespassing charges.
The bald eagle nesting sites are also restricted areas. I have been asked by the Range Management Division of the SRPMIC Environmental Protection and Natural Resources Department to inform the Community that no bald eagle nest at the river was successful last year—they all failed. This means the eggs did not hatch because the parents were disturbed from the nest so often. The eggs died from exposure to the elements. If these nests continue to fail, the bald eagles will leave the area permanently.
Please remember is that it is called “the wilderness” for a reason. There is a wide range of wildlife at the river and in the Red Mountain area: in addition to eagles, there are wild horses, cattle, deer, javelina, coyotes, foxes, raccoons, skunks, predatory cats (bobcat/cougar, a.k.a. mountain lions), ringtailed cats, spiders, scorpions, snakes (some venomous and some not) and probably more.
When you visit the wilderness areas, bring water, be careful where you step, be aware of your surroundings, watch your kids and pets at all times, and it’s always a good idea to let someone else know where you are going. Above all, feel free to enjoy your Community’s wilderness responsibly.
My final topic of discussion is cats and dogs, at present the Rangers do not transport cats or even actively trap cats; we do, however, safely capture unwanted or possibly dangerous dogs with our traps/cages.
The trap/cages we have are not set up for trapping cats because they are too large. In fact I have been scratched through my trap by cats and my long sleeves with gloves. There are fees in accepting cats at MCACC Facilities.
Trapped dogs should not be released unless it is your dog and the trap is on your property. An animal that is in a cage could be fearful and may bite if not released properly.
The Animal Welfare Ordinance laws (SRCO 12-29) state “(d) Interference unlawful—it is unlawful for any person to interfere with the enforcement agent in the performance of his duties. (e) Unauthorized removal from impoundment unlawful—no person may remove or attempt to remove any animal which has been impounded or which is in the possession of the enforcement agent.”
The rangers and patrol officers are still responding to calls for service regarding dogs. The Community has an inter-governmental agreement (IGA) with MCACC.
The vehicles that have a Maricopa County seal and usually have six compartments (three on each side) are their units. The MCACC agents will come into the Community accompanied by a sworn Salt River police officer or ranger officer. The agents and rangers will pick up only stray dogs, which means the dog has no collar or tag or is unclaimed. The MCACC agents are requesting that dogs be either secured to a leash or in a kennel-type enclosure. In addition it is best if other animals on the property are secured for everyone’s safety.
If you own a dog you wish to surrender, this can be done at the MCACC on Eighth Street (now Rio Salado Parkway) and the Loop 101 Pima Freeway, Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Fees apply.
Lately I have received questions about the SRPMIC rabies license. Once your dog is vaccinated, the tag given out by the Community is only valid within our boundary, but is free of charge. If you wish to take your pet outside Community boundaries for an excursion, you must have a valid Maricopa County license.
If you are outside the boundaries and your pet does not have a license, it is a class 2 misdemeanor (Arizona Revised Statutes 11-1008). There are two benefits to having both, although it’s not required, if you live inside SRPMIC: You won’t have to worry if you take your pet with you outside the Community, and if your dog is captured any time of day or night by SRPD, the number on the tag will identify you as the owner.
Another concern I would like to bring up is roaming animals. The Salt River Code of Ordinances, Animal Welfare Ordinance, 12-9—Restricting Roaming Animals states, “It is prohibited for any person owning or having charge of domestic animals (dog/cat/cow/horse/goat) to permit them to run at large in any locality or within the boundaries of the SRPMIC. Any person who violates this section shall be subject to a fine not to exceed $150 per violation, with costs.”
I would like to thank you for your time. Finally, be sure to have your Tribal ID with you wherever you are in the range or at the river; rangers are conducting random checks. Above all, be safe and call the Salt River Police Department if you need any assistance.