Tracker 1st Quarter 2023

Page 1

HUNTS FOR HEROES

1st Quarter 2023
Rodeo 8-11
FOR WILDLIFE
Water for Arizona’s Wildlife 12-13
Learn About the Outdoors at Mesquite Wildlife Oasis 20-21
First
WATER
Supplying
YOUTH Kids

Rick Johnson

Adam Jones

Jim Jones

Mitchell Jones

Scott Jones

Bruce Judson

Andrew Kap

Sandra Kauffman

Richard Kauffman, Sr.

Jim Kavanaugh

Sandra Kearney

Bill Kelley

Denise Kennedy

Chuck Kerr

Roger Kesterson

Bill Kiefer

Brian Kimball

Steve King

David Kinman

Donald Kinney

Peter Klocki

Peter Knadler

John Koleszar

Charles Koons

Brian Koziol

Joseph Krejci

Otto Kuczynski

Joseph LaJeunesse

Joseph M. Lane

James Lara

Kevin Lawhorn

Randy Lay

Dylan Lechter

Michael Lechter

Jeffrey C. Lehrer

Justin Leitner

Skylar Lempinen

Jorge Leon

Mike Leon

Steve Leone

Ruben Lerma

Scott Lewis

Kevin Libsack

Bob Litchfield

Tim Littleton

Ryan Lloyd

Megan Lobst

Karen Longo

Jamie Lyons

James Lynch, Jr.

Bob Mallory

John Marriott

Eric Martin

David Martin

Don Martin

Robert Martin

Joseph Masseur

Karl Matchinsky

Gary Matchinsky

Russ McDowell

Steve McGaughey

Brian McGrew

Angela McHaney

Kelly McMillan

James Mehen*

William Meredith

James Mingus

Matt Minshall

Daniel Moore

Richard Moraca

James H. Mullins

James K. Mullins

Matt Mullins

Robert Murry, DVM

Ronald Nadzieja

Gregory Naff

Annette Naff

Megan Naff

Keith Newlon

Mark Nicholas

Anthony Nichols

Brandon Nichols

Fletcher Nichols

Lance Nichols

Logan Nichols

Cookie Nicoson

Walt Nicoson*

Paige Nicoson

John Nightengale

Kathi Nixon

Mark Nixon

Edward Nolte

Nick Novak

David Nygaard

Donna Obert

Douglas Obert, Sr.*

Mark Ogden

James Oldham

Bob Olds

Raul M. Ortiz

Ray Ouellette

Martin Paez

Sallie Page

Pete Page

Danny Palmer

Duane Palmer

Everett Palmer

Chris Parish

Marlin Parker

Don Parks Jr.

Dale Parrish

Billy Patterson

Shawn Patterson

Art Pearce

Bryan Pedersen

Mike Pellegatti

Allen Perez

Guy Phillips

Paul Piker

Jack Poggendorf

Forrest Purdy*

AESLIFEMEMBERS Mike Abramovich Dan Adler Christopher Agnone Hector Albarran Ken Alexander John Anderson Michael Anderson Michael J. Anderson Patti Anderson Clair Andrew John Anton Ernest Apodaca, Jr. Steve Armstrong Keith Azlin Tony Baca Pete Baldwin James Ballard Leo Balthazor Lee Banning David Baril Kenneth Barnes Philip Barrett Ron Batz Randy Beck F.K. Benbow Tony Benites David Bennett Joseph Berardi Danny Berg Keith Berger Robert Besst Bruce Bettis John Bingham Jeff Blalock Jason Bluhm Tom Bobo Jr. Rebecca Bouquot Eagle Bowers Victoria Bowers Tom Bowman Janet Bowman Tish Bradford Dan Bradford Roger Briggs Richard Briskin Stephen Brown, MD Gary Bryans Jr Jeffrey Buchanan Kurt Buckwald Robert Bueche Mike Burr Carlton Buscemi Michael Bush Esther Cadzow John Cadzow* Daniel Capote Cindi Carlson Lupe Carlson Harry Carlson* Kenneth Carney Brandon Carr Terry Carson Chris Casper Steve Casterton Marcus Castro Nick Celenza Joe & Marisa Cerreta Randy Cherington Pete Cimellaro Richard Clark Steve Clark Gerad Claseman McAllen Coalson Bob Cockrill, Jr. Donna Marie Coleman Todd Coleman Francisco Contreras Barbara Cook James Cook Frank Cooper Russell Coover Robert Copeland Mike Coppock Richard Cowen Lonnie Crabtree Rod Crandell William Crary Philip Cushman William Cullins Richard Currie Patrick Curry B. Todd Curtis Kay Davidson Don Davidson William Davis Bill Davis Jamie Davis Larry Day Kurt Davis Bryan Delgado Anthony DeSiderio Jim DeVos Mike Dirilo Joe Divito Steven Dodds William Dorsey Gregory Doryl Ray Dresslar Patrick Dugan Thomas Duncan Paul Durbin* Nick Edwards Ron Eichelberger Sharon Eichelberger Brian Eilers Peter Ekholm* Deborah Elliott Nathan Evans Tim Evans Daron Evans Shane Faulkner Scott Fisher Jeffrey Fleetham Randy Foote David Forbes Mark France Tom Franklin Douglas Fritz Will Garrison Mark Giebelhaus John Girvin Greg Godbehere Walt Godbehere Richard Goettel Joshua Grantham Charles Gray Edna Gray H. Alan Hallman, DVM John Hamett Carl Hargis Steven Harness Nate Harrel Charles Ray Harrison Sean Hatch Steve Havertine Merritt Haynes Richard Heckman Wayne Hedrich Keith Heimes Dan Hellman R. Todd Henderson Mario Hernandez Michael Hernandez Terry Herndon Charles Herner Joe Herrero Ed Hightower Mike Hobel Paul Hodges III Kevin Hogue Jim Holleran Mel Holsinger Scott Horn Michael Horstman Timothy Hosford Bryan House Danny Howard Ron Huddleston Bruce Hudson John Hull Todd Ingersoll Don Irwin Wayne Jacobs Allen James Kyle Jenkins Brian Johnsen Gary Johnson James C. Johnson James Johnson Earl Johnson Edward Johnson Lauren Johnson Lawrence Johnson Michael Johnson Pete Johnson Richard Johnson
Jan Purdy Mark Raby* Kenneth Ramage Kenneth Rankin Gary Reber Steve Remige Jim Renkema Robin Renowden Armon Rheaume Keith Riefkohl Mel Risch* Preston Riveras  Travis Roberts Zach Robertson Richard Roller Aaron Ruiz Roy Ruiz Todd Sabin Mike Sanders Kevin Sargent Michelle Schaefer Steven Schaefer Mark Schepers Rick Schmidt Barry Schmitz Tom Schorr Scott Schuff DeAnne Schuff Nathaneal Schulz Kurt Schulz Shannon Schulz Terry Schupp Peter Schwan Michael Schwindenhammer Bill Shaffer Cindy Shaffer Steven Shaffer Howard Shaffer William Shaffer, Jr John Shereck Lonzo Shields Mark Simon Terrence Simons Charlene Sipe Andrew Smigielski Michael Snyder Thomas Spalding Randy Sparaco Ray Speer Robert Spurny Connor Stainton Gregory Stainton Randy Stalcup Douglas Stancill Ray Steffen Jr Stan Stellwagen Mark Stephenson Arlen Stewart Shane Stewart James Stewart John Stuckey Vashti “Tice” Supplee Nick Swanson Al Swapp Debbie Swapp Bob Swisher James Symonds Tim Talbott Dan Taylor Amos Terrell Jr. Todd Thelander Pete Thomas Kevin Thompson Nick Thompson Billy Thrash Donald Tirpak Bill Tocci Linda Tocci John Toner Richard Trepeta Gregory Trivette Corey Tunnell Lee Turner Sandra Turner Bill VenRooy Rick Vincent, Sr. John Wagner Carl Walker Kathleen Walp William Walp Peter Walters Don Walters, Jr. Caryn Walsh Thomas Walton Bill Wasbotten Dale Watkins David Watts Rick Watts Paul Weaver Jerry Weiers Dee White Larry White Kevin Widner Chris G. Williams Richard Williams Scott Wilt Matt Windle Glenn Wooden Cory Worischeck Mark Worischeck Joseph Worischeck Robert Younger Richard Youngker Chuck Youngker Dave Zibbon Scott Ziebarth Craig Zimmerman * deceased 2 Tracker 1st Quarter 2023

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PRESIDENTS’ MESSAGE

As spring draws to a close and triple digit temperatures return to the desert, I reflect on the awesome winter and spring we had this year. Flagstaff and the Rim country saw record snowfall, reminding me of the wet winters in the 1980’s. Time will tell if this was one exceptional year or the beginning of a wet cycle. Regardless, there will be plenty of green feed for elk and other wildlife throughout the state. The late melting snowpack will hopefully saturate soils and stave off forest fires. Sure would be nice to have a break from those. Here in the desert the rivers flooded with the water released from the Salt River Project dams. Over 700,000 acre feet of water flowed down the Salt and Verde Rivers to the Gila and west to Yuma and Mexico. That is almost equal to the amount of water delivered to users each year. Arizona and the West are very much boom and bust when it comes to the weather.

The AES banquet in Phoenix was another sell out and a new record in fundraising for all our programs. Many thanks to the sponsors and donors who helped make this event a big success. Two more smaller banquets are coming up in June (White Mountains) and July (Flagstaff). The Arizona Game and Fish Commissioners elk tag brought a record auction price this year. I am sure with all the snow and rain the hope is for some big bulls in the woods this fall.

At long last Wapiti Weekend, probably the youth event we are most known for, is scheduled for the weekend of July 28-30 at Camp Raymond located west of Flagstaff. We need volunteers for this event and of course our signature work projects. This year we may not need as much water hauled to important wildlife drinkers. Work can be focused on repairs and upgrades of those same watering sites and others scattered through elk country.

For those who have an elk tag, be sure to attend the AES hunter clinic in July. The information and tips are invaluable. If like me you were not so lucky this year, consider volunteering for the AES youth elk camp or for

a Hunt for Heroes—two great ways to enjoy the hunt seasons and help another hunter.

Your AES board and wonderful staff have been busy planning for our future and looking for opportunities to increase the impact of AES across the state. President Awards for 2023 went to our treasurer Chris Lutzel, who has guided the AES financial strategies; and to now former board member Andrew Kapp for his years of service on the AES board.

Our building now has a secure parking area for AES vehicles and trailers, We are now planning a remodel for the interior of the building to make it more useful for meetings, banquet prepping, and AES training events in the Valley. The landscaping for the AES offices has been donated by our third President’s Awardee, John Nightengale.

I am really looking toward the last half of this year and growth in AES habitat and education programs. Please consider giving of your time and donating in support of all AES does for elk, wildlife, and conservation-minded people. Check out the easy monthly giving plan on the AES website, Monthly Giving (arizonaelksociety.org)

Yours in Conservation,

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OFFICERS

President - Tice Supplee

Vice President - Greg Godbehere

Treasurer - Christopher K. Lutzel

Secretary - Richard Moraca

Executive Director - Steve Clark

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Wayne Bouton

Randy Burton

Joe Di Vito

Ron Huddleston

Glen Jones

Steve Schaefer

PAST PRESIDENT

Rich Williams

You may send a message for any officers, board members or committee chairs to stevec@arizonaelksociety.org

The mission of the Arizona Elk Society is to benefit elk and other wildlife by generating resources for habitat conservation and restoration, and to preserve our hunting heritage

OUR MISSION STATEMENT
The Arizona Elk Society is a non-profit 501(c)(3) wildlife organization. Visit us online at www.arizonaelksociety.org www.facebook.com/arizonaelksociety
for present and future generations.
Arizona Elk Society 5
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ISSUE 20-21 Kids Learn About the Outdoors at Mesquite Wildlife Oasis byJBeckyBouquot 19 Wapiti Weekend is Coming! 27 AES Founding Members 14-17 22nd Annual AES Banquet bySteveClark 12-13 Supplying Water for Arizona’s WILDLIFE byBeckyBouquot 8-11 First Rodeo byLenCastro,U.S.Marine(ret.) 22-24 Unintended Consequences byJohnKoleszar 24 2023 AES Scholarship Winners To learn about
opportunites
Arizona
visit our website at www.arizonaelksociety.org 26 AES Habitat Partners Arizona Elk Society 7
IN THIS
volunteer
with
Elk Society,

My name is Len Castro and I’m a retired Marine. I specialized in advanced infiltration tactics and techniques. I had the honor of training Marines, Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen in these disciplines. I have been deployed on several occasions and was blessed to be able to come home to my family each time. After 20 years active duty, I hung up my boots and moved on to the private sector. I decided not to dive completely into the civilian side for work and slid into a job training U.S. and allied forces both here in the U.S. and abroad.

FIRST RODEO

I discovered the Arizona Elk Society (AES) through word of mouth. Lou Sisneros, a retired veteran I work with, had heard about the AES through a workout buddy of his. Lou subsequently mentioned the organization to me. After discussing our interest in the outdoors and hunting, Lou and I decided to submit applications to Heroes Rising Outdoors, AES’ veteran outreach program. We were contacted by Mr. Tom Wagner shortly after that. During phone conversations with Tom, we learned how the program was set up and what we could expect. Lou and I were excited for what might possibly happen that coming hunting season. Tom called us a couple months later notifying us of the opportunity to go elk hunting together–two elk tags had been donated for the same cow elk hunt in Unit 10. We jumped at the chance!

I’d had an ongoing desire to hunt with my own handloads rather than factory ammunition. I had been experimenting with working up custom loads for my 7 Remington Magnum rifle, but couldn’t quite get it dialed in. When I had a hard time finding even mediocre components for this cartridge, I decided to hunt with an old Remington Model 700 chambered in 30-06 instead. I began load development for this rifle and found something I was happy with. Next was to pick up gear that I would need for the hunt — pack, field dressing kit, and other essentials that I didn’t already own. Lou and I then headed to the gun range to sight in our rifles. It didn’t take long to get the rifles zeroed in for different distances. Then with everything prepped, it was a waiting game for the weekend of the hunt.

Lou and I decided to take his truck for the hunt, so he stopped by and picked me up. We then headed to meet up with Tom on the way out of town. As we were all about to turn onto the freeway, a bungee cord popped loose and a folding table slipped out of Tom’s truck. Although about four vehicles ran over the table, Lifetime’s reputation remained unscathed! Tom just shook his head, stating he hoped that

was as bad as things would get.

Upon arriving in Flagstaff, we stocked up on snacks and block ice for the coolers. It began to sink in as we headed west that we were really going elk hunting! Lou and I had been stoked for the chance to hunt together. We already agreed that if only one of us tagged out we’d share the harvest. We still had high hopes that we would both be successful though! As we drove, we talked about what we thought the country would look like and how challenging the hunt might be. Just over ½ of Unit 10 is composed of the Boquillas Ranch, which we all had access permits for and where we’d be hunting. The next few days would reveal much!

After many hours on the road, we arrived at a site Tom had camped at before. Since the camp site is one that’s been used by hunters for years, Tom’s decision on our early arrival was a smart one. We unloaded tools and got to leveling out the ground to pitch our individual tents. Lou and I then helped set up the HRO canopy for the kitchen area, collected firewood and stacked it near our fire pit. Our volunteer cook wasn’t scheduled to arrive until the following morning, so everyone pitched in to fix that night’s dinner.

We set a wake time of 0300 for the following morning (opening day!). We looked over our rifles and prepped our gear. It reminded me a little of how I did this so many times before a combat mission, making sure everything was in its place and Op checking gear prior to use. Tom explained a lot of hunting tips and techniques that night, all of which were

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appreciated very much. Neither Lou or I had been elk hunting before and needed all the tips we could get.

Before we turned in, Tom asked us “the” question, “Who is going to shoot first?” Neither Lou nor I wanted to sound greedy so we both just looked at each other. That’s when Tom suggested we just flip a coin. Inside my head, I laughed! I knew I would lose this coin toss --- Lou is one of the luckiest guys I know. So, we tossed a coin and sure as heck Lou won! With that settled, we turned in for the night with high hopes for the following day’s hunt.

0300 and the alarm went off! Tom got the coffee going and set out some breakfast rolls. Packs and rifles were loaded into the HRO Toyota Tundra and we headed out. We were the first ones to arrive at the spot Tom knew about which gave us high hopes for a successful morning. We all got our gear and started into the walk-in area that was open to foot traffic only.

We stopped in the dark about every 5 minutes to listen for elk activity. Several bulls’ bugles drifted to us from a distance. Lou and I stood there in the quiet pre-dawn, stoked at hearing those first bugles! We continued our hike in towards a location where we could set up to glass for elk once it got light.

The sun was just creeping above the horizon when we caught movement on a hillside about 1 “click” (1,000 yards) in front of our position. I quickly realized it was cattle and not elk. A few minutes later I spotted a bull elk at some distance with some lady elk in tow. We lost sight of them as they topped a ridge moving away from us. We continued to glass.

Nothing much was happening, so it was decided that Lou and I would try to close the distance on the herd we spotted earlier, leaving Tom as a spotter. Making our way across the juniper studded drainage, Lou and I were able to get within 300 yards of the elk.

We moved slowly closer until we had an unobstructed view of a cow. Lou started to get into a solid prone position for a shot while I kept the elk in view with my binoculars. The cow appeared to be broadside to us and I waited for Lou to pull the trigger. However, seconds ticked by and no shot! My mind was racing --- why wasn’t Lou shooting?

Lou was positioned a little forward of my position with a tree between the two of us. I tried whispering to him that he had a good shot, but he couldn’t hear me due to the Ear Pros he was wearing. The cow elk moved slightly, quartering a bit towards Lou but still pretty much broadside --- still no bang. I started to get seriously antsy at that point, thinking that maybe I needed to take the shot. But no, I didn’t want to be “that guy.”

As I battled with the idea of taking the shot, a calf elk moved up behind the cow eliminating any ethical shot. We waited for the situation to clear, but instead of that happening both elk moved up the hill into some trees. Lou and I retreated to rehash things, ending up agreeing that in not forcing a shot, Lou had made the right decision.

We made our way back across the basin to where we’d left Tom. That’s when we learned that Tom had been trying to raise us on the radio for the past hour. He had spotted elk just to the left of our position, feeding undisturbed the entire time. Unfortunately, my radio wasn’t working due to a faulty battery connector. Oh well, what was a little more frustration to add to things at that point.

It was then about 10 a.m., so we decided to call it a morning. As we hiked the couple miles back to the truck, we chatted about what Lou and I had learned during our first elk stalk. We had gotten to about the ½-way mark when the morning air was disrupted by a barrage of rifle shots. It sounded like a shooting gallery at a county fair. We counted to what ended up being a total of 14 shots over about a 5-minute span. 14 shots! My confidence about our continuing to hunt that area took a quick nosedive.

After the shooting ended, we all stood there shaking our heads. You can imagine our ensuing conversation with regards to the hunters we’d heard shooting. Our demeanor was bruised as we continued back to the truck along the 2-track we’d hiked in on before first light.

Less than 5 minutes later Lou happened to look back and saw a herd of about 10 elk (with a nice bull!) about 400 yards behind us. It was clear they were hightailing it away from the previous gunshots. They continued to mill about, waiting for the lead cow to

Arizona Elk Society 9

jump over the fence we’d been paralleling. We all hunkered down and started moving single file back towards the herd, hoping to get into shooting range. We closed the distance to about 300 yards, but the thick junipers and moving elk didn’t afford Lou an ethical shot at an elk’s vitals. We didn’t want to shoot one and have it jump the fence to other land we were not allowed to hunt. We didn’t want to think what recovering an elk under those circumstances would entail.

We arrived back at camp mid-morning to be greeted by our camp cook Billy Aiton. He proceeded to cook us a proper breakfast (which really hit the spot!), after which we sat around going over the morning’s events. With the number of hunters in the general area we’d been in, we decided to hunt a different spot that evening. We also decided that it would be my turn to shoot should we find more elk. Billy would be going out with us to help glass.

For the evening hunt, we went to a spot up on a hill where we could glass almost 360 degrees around us. We were able to see several hunters driving along the dirt roads below. It didn’t take long to realize this area probably wouldn’t be very productive with so much traffic. It turned out we didn’t see a single elk during the several hours we glassed from there.

Saturday rolled around and we blanked locating stalkable elk both on the morning and evening hunts, although we did hear some bugling in the distance. That evening back at camp Lou was upset with himself for not taking the shot opening morning, and I kept thinking I should have told Lou I’d take the shot. Morale was low as we realized we only had one more hunt in front of us.

Sunday morning, our last, we returned to the area we’d hunted opening morning. Ten minutes after we left the truck we heard a couple bulls bugling, one closer to the boundary fence, a second in the direction of the herd we’d glassed up Friday morning. Tom immediately made the decision to go towards the second bull which we guessed was just over 1 “click” away. The wind was in our faces as we hustled forward in the dark. The elk were moving away from us through the junipers but had no idea we were after them.

As it got light, we slowed down, continually glassing ahead. We were hoping to spot elk through the junipers before they spotted us. We thought we’d be almost on them, only to see another dip in the terrain ahead of us. It was slow going as we zig-zagged between the tall junipers. We finally

had one large ridge a little over 200 yards in front of us. We stopped and listened to a couple intermittent bugles as Tom glassed across its face with his binoculars.

“I’ve got elk!” he whispered. A cow elk had edged forward on the skyline facing us, showing just the top of herself. “Don’t move!” She hesitated for over a minute, then one after another more elk appeared. The mature herd bull then rushed forward pushing all his cows over the ridge and down towards us. It suddenly became a very target-rich environment and was about to get “Western!” Yep, it was our first rodeo!

My heart was pounding as the entire herd raced down across in front of us --- it was hard to determine what was a mature cow and what was a calf! The thought also raced through my mind “This is it! If you don’t make it happen now, you’re going home empty handed!”

Tom was standing behind me and said to me “Get ready, stay calm, pick out an elk and make sure it doesn’t have antlers.” He cow-called loudly and the elk came to a stop. I picked out a cow that was standing broadside, centered my scope’s reticle on it and pulled the trigger. The cow was so close that my shot missed high. I chambered another round, aimed a little lower, and squeezed the trigger. The cow dropped where she stood.

All the while Lou had been to my left and had shot a cow of his own! We both shouted to each other “I got one, how about you?” After the shooting stopped and the herd had left the area, Lou and I stood there dumbfounded. Lou made his

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way over to me. We silently high-fived and celebrated with a huge hug. Tom and Billy congratulated us both. It was a very humble and thankful moment. Then we proceeded to jabber back and forth, laughing uncontrollably.

Lou and Tom went over to Lou’s cow and Billy and I went over to mine. We tagged both elk and took pictures for memories’ sake. After the pictures were taken it was time to get to work!

Lou and I had a lot to learn about field dressing. Billy assisted me in breaking down my cow while Tom helped Lou. We got both elk skinned, quartered, and into gamebags. We used the gutless method which I’ll be sure to use on all my future hunts! We set up the packs to haul the meat out to the truck. It was only about a mile hike out to the nearest road, and every step made me prouder.

On the way-out we all stumbled upon several elk gut piles with tire tracks leading to each one of them. We realized that the hunters that had shot up the herd of elk opening morning had driven into the vehicle restricted area. It is sad that hunters make these selfish decisions. This is the type of behavior that causes landowners to cut off hunter access completely! All because a few hunters’ moral compasses are off --- they think regulations don’t apply to them.

Thinking back about the entire experience, Lou and I would have been hard pressed to be successful with no elk hunting experience under our belts. A huge thank you to Tom Wagner and Billy Aiton for helping us find elk, getting us into shooting range and talking us through our shots, walking us through

the field cleaning process, and helping haul our harvests back to the truck!

Unfortunately, as soon as we returned to camp, Lou and I had to load his truck and head home (we both had to work the next morning). I wish we could have stayed another night to unwind with the men that assisted us. If I could have changed one thing, it would have been that --- reliving our hunt while sitting around a campfire looking up at the thousands of stars overhead.

Thanks to AES I was able to experience the outdoors with very experienced hunters like Tom and Billy. Lou and I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to have hunted elk here in Arizona (and for the first time ever) with these gentlemen. I felt like the stresses of my life were moved to a distant horizon as I got away from the city and into the wilderness hunting elk. It was very therapeutic for me and introduced me to a brotherhood not dissimilar to what I’d had while in the military.

I would like to thank everyone who supports the Arizona Elk Society and its Heroes Rising Outdoors program. This experience would not be possible without them. In addition, a sincere “thank you” to all those who donate their big game tags so disabled veterans can get outdoors and back in touch with their inner selves.

God bless you all!

Arizona Elk Society 11

SUPPLYING WATER FOR ARIZONA’S WILDLIFE

Water for Arizona’s Wildlife is a vital part of our wildlife conservation efforts. The program focuses on rebuilding water catchments and hauling water to benefit Arizona’s 820 species of wildlife. Water is essential to the survival of Arizona’s wildlife, and by providing additional water sources, the Arizona Elk Society helps distribute herds and other wildlife for better utilization of available forage. This, in turn, expands the quality habitat available to sustain healthy wildlife populations. We work with volunteers, government agencies, and private landowners to identify areas in need of water catchment restoration and construction. The program has been successful in restoring and constructing new water catchments, and as a result, there has been a significant increase in wildlife populations in areas where water sources were previously limited.

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This year, the weather in Northern Arizona has kept the ground wet and most water catchments full, which has allowed us to focus our time on servicing water trucks, trailers, and restocking supplies. We have a project in the works to replace the water storage capacity and the troughs at Butcher Knife Tank in Unit 7-West this spring!

For those who are interested in getting involved in hauling water to wildlife, there are many opportunities at the Arizona Elk Society. Please visit our website and learn about our volunteer opportunities, www. arizonaelksociety.org

Arizona Elk Society 13

22ND ANNUAL AES BANQUET

Our 22nd Annual Banquet April 1, 2023, was a sold-out success. We were able to add a few more tables and ended up with over 850 attendees and 90 volunteers.

From the comments of the attendees everyone had a great time. We were able to set some great records that night with the Arizona Game and Fish Commissioners Special Elk tag selling for a record $400,000 and the Hualapai Special Elk tag selling for $140,000. All the funds from the Arizona Elk tag go back to the

Arizona Game & Fish Department through the Habitat Partnership Committee to be matched and spent for projects benefiting elk in Arizona. Many of the projects are large scale habitat projects and new larger water catchments across elk range in AZ.

This year the Arizona Elk Society has many habitat projects in the works along with youth camps teaching outdoor skills and environmental education to thousands of young people, maintaining and filling hundreds of critical water catchments. If you get the time to volunteer at

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our events and work projects, please sign up for our email blasts on the website at www.arizonaelksociety. org. We could use all the help we can get to continue our great work. On the website there are many links to sign up as a volunteer and we appreciate all the volunteers we have.

Thank you to all the attendees, corporate tables, sponsors, donors and especially the hardworking volunteers, some of whom spent 3 days setting up, working the banquet and tearing down on Sunday. There is

no way the AES could hold a banquet this size without all of you!

If you missed out on our main banquet in Mesa don’t forget we have two more banquets coming up, June 10th is the Show Low Banquet for our White Mountain Chapter and July 15 we will be at Little America in Flagstaff for our Northern Arizona Peaks Chapter Banquet. These banquets typically sell out so get your tickets soon.

Arizona Elk Society 15
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Arizona Elk Society 17

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L K E S A O N C O IE IZ T R Y A W A P I T I W E E K E N D 20 23 ® ARIZONA
ELK
SOCIETY WAPITI
WEEKEND July
28‑30,
2023 ® ARIZONA SOCIETY THANK
YOU
TO
OUR
SPONSORS Summer
Youth Outdoor/Wilderness Educational
Skills
Camp Geocaching/Hiking Gold
Panning Track
Making/Glassing Owl
Pellets Survival
Bracelets Wilderness
1st
 Archery BB
Rifles/22
Rifles Kayaking/Canoeing Shotgun‑Clays Fishing/Fly
Casting Wildlife
ID/Game
Calling W E E K E N D
 C L A S S E S ꞉ VOLUNTEER
OPPORTUNTIES꞉ All
Weekend
‑
Instructors/Helpers Wednesday
‑
Food/Trailer
Loading Thursday
‑
Trailer
Hauling/Unloading Friday
AM
‑
Set‑Up Sunday
Noon
‑
Clean‑Up Sunday
‑
Trailer
Hauling/Loading REGISTER
OR
SIGN
UP
TO
VOLUNTEER
|
DOWNLOAD
FLYER/MAPS Online
At꞉
ArizonaElkSociety.org/Wapiti‑Weekend R E G I S T R A T I O N ꞉
 $ 5 5
 P E R
 Y O U T H FOR
YOUTH
6‑17
YEARS
OLD IN PARTNERSHIP WITH ARIZONA GAME & FISH DEPARTMENT
Arizona Elk Society 19
Funded
By꞉
Cabela’s
Outdoor
Fund

KIDS LEARN ABOUT THE OUTDOORS AT MESQUITE WILDLIFE OASIS

As the desert begins to heat up, the outdoor classroom at Mesquite Wildlife Oasis (MWO) flourishes with wildflowers, dragonflies, frogs and baby birds! The winter rains brought an abundance of flora and fauna—providing incredible opportunities to view wildlife in their natural habitat. From the remote location and primitive accommodations, this one-of-a-kind experience gives students a true feeling of what it is like to be in the wild. For some students, their time at MWO is their first outdoor experience and this is why this program is so important. Time at MWO is an opportunity to inspire the next generation of wildlife stewards on the importance of conservation, habitat preservation and ethical outdoor recreation.

Since 2008, approximately 38,000 students, teachers and chaperones have visited MWO to learn about Arizona’s wildlife and desert habitats. The curriculum taught at MWO was developed to match the desert habitat and is tied to

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Arizona State Education Standards. Through this program teachers are able to provide students with a hands-on learning experience that connects classroom lessons to the natural world. With limitations on school district budgets, MWO offers this program free of charge, as well as a stipend for transportation costs for schools to travel to the site.

Just this past year, AES took over the administration of MWO in partnership with Wildlife for Tomorrow and the previous landowner, Consolidated Edison. This partnership has already expanded the reach of MWO, increased awareness of this program, and added additional resources to ensure the longevity and success of this unique opportunity for west Valley students. AES has also received additional funding through a grant provided by the Arizona State Park’s Heritage Fund, that will be used to support AES’ resources dedicated to MWO.

As the 2022-2023 MWO program comes to an end, AES and their team of educators anticipate another great season next school year!

Important information: AES will release the field trip sign-up for next school year in early August of 2023. There are only 30 spots available for field trips and they fill up quickly! MWO is located in Arlington, roughly 60 minutes from central Phoenix. The outdoor classroom can accommodate up to 80 students at a time. Homeschool groups are welcome to join, as long as they have 25 students or more. The outdoor classroom is closed to the general public, however AES offers a Community Education Day for all those interested in visiting the site. If you are unable to make it out to MWO, please join AES at Wapiti Weekend and Wild in the City! For more information on AES’s youth programs, call 623-444-4147 or visit www.arizonaelksociety.org

Arizona Elk Society 21

UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES

In 1971, when politicians could actually debate and come to consensus, the Wild Horse and Burro Act was signed into law. Since that fateful year, the wild horse advocates have made life miserable for hunters, conservationists, wildlife agencies and even environmentalists. Unbridled horse populations have become some romantic illusion that (horse lovers) east of the Mississippi have become obsessed with–beyond any practical understanding of the consequences. Wild horse advocates refuse to acknowledge that there is a problem with the sheer numbers of horses that are inundating the landscape. A major problem is they will not listen to science; rather, they play the “numbers” game of disinformation.

The Bureau Of Land Management (BLM)is the accepted leader of handling the “wild” horses and burros. Everyone—and I do mean EVERYONE in the media uses their statistics as the gospel on what is happening in the west with the horses and burros. The latest published numbers from the BLM was published in March of 2022. That article clearly states that there are 404 horses and 9092 burros in Arizona. That total of 9496 horses and burros does not really sound so bad to many. But when you consider the fact that the BLM themselves state that the maximum number of horses and burros should be 1676, the problem becomes more evident. With that many horses and burros running through the landscape, one only has to visit critical locations to see the massive amounts of damage that these critters wreak on the environment. The movie “Horse Rich, Dirt Poor” shows the dramatic situations that are rapidly becoming common.

I have spent the last 18 years ringing the verbal alarms regarding the growing issues that the horses have created. Most other sportsmen in Arizona have also seen the changes in wildlife populations caused by an overpopulation of horses and burros.

Now comes the interesting part, where actual fraudulent information comes in. Let’s take the number of 404 “wild” horses that the BLM states are in Arizona. Perhaps that number may be somewhat relevant when discussing only BLM lands. The sad truth of the matter for Arizona is that there are more than 404 horses in one tiny spot right next to Scottsdale, Arizona. The Salt River horses are never and will never be included in that number. Why?, because they are located on the Tonto National Forest. Those horses reside in a small 19,000 acre habitat that is designed to hold at best 35 horses. For anyone who appreciates the wildness of any animal, these are totally habituated, have devoured anything remotely close to good vegetation and must be fed yearly by hauling truckloads of hay from across the west to feed them. Visitors to the area can walk right up to a “wild” horse and take pictures, feed them, even pet them. That is merely the tip of the iceberg here in Arizona.

The Apache Sitgreaves National Forest has more than 2,000 horses on their forested areas as well. Again, no one wants to talk about those numbers, because it starts to build a case that maybe, just maybe there are too many horses. Last year over 250 horses were captured in the Apache National Forest. The capture process was as gentle as possible considering you have to haul animals that weigh over 900 pounds and really do not want to be moved. The captured horses were then placed in an online auction. Why an online auction? Because the horse advocates waged a warlike campaign over any horse being removed. There were death threats, harassment, bully pulpit gossip (Facebook), and a fawning media that has been reluctant to hear both sides. Why? The romantic concept of wild horses roaming the Southwest makes for great press. No one likes to confront a problem like overpopulation.

The adjacent forest, the Sitgreaves National Forest is another unique story. This forest found 7 feral horses on their lands in 1973. A designation of a 19,000 acre

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habitat / territory / sanctuary for the horses was established. Those 7 horses died off sometime in the late 1980’s or early 1990’s. But then in 2002 a conflagration known as the Rodeo-Chedeski fire happened. Over 500,00 acres burned to a crisp, including the boundary fencing with the adjacent Whiter Mountain Apache tribal lands. Without boundaries, horses did what they naturally do—eat and move on. At that time, feral horses were abundant on the tribal lands. With the fences down, horses came into the Sitgreaves National Forest in crazy numbers. Those fences were not rebuilt for over 5 years, because none of the burnt trees were harvested. Deadfalls in winter were a serious threat to humans as well as animals, and no activity was allowed for that period. Tribal horses came and went, mostly staying on the Sitgreaves Forest. Today, estimates vary, but it’s generally accepted that at least 1,200 horses occupy areas of the Sitgreaves National Forest. The 19,000 acres was not designated for these new horses. The territory has been breached beyond comprehension. Horses can now be found along a 60-mile stretch of the Forest, from the top of the Rim at Woods Canyon Lake, all the way to Show Low, Arizona. Those 1200 plus horses have pushed elk and other natural wildlife out of this area and ironically back to the White Mountain Apache tribal lands where sportsmen are not allowed.

Estimates of feral horses on the Navajo tribal lands have been placed at over 50,000 horses (conservatively). At one point there were discussions about holding a horse hunt. With the ensuing uproar over that idea by the horse advocates, the idea of a hunt was quickly dismissed. It did however point out the dramatic situation on their lands. They have hundreds of sheep that they utilize for everything from food to clothing. With the competition out of hand, they have an enduring problem that will not go

away. There are some tribes that utilize the process of rounding up horses and then exporting them to Mexico or Canada. Those horses are then returned to the United States in the form of what is call “Zoo Logs”.

Zoos in the United States have found that their big cats,( lions, tigers, cheetahs, etc.) cannot handle beef in their digestive systems. So the zoos across the country import those horses after they have been euthanized and processed. The costs can be staggering for the zoos.

Other areas in Arizona have similar problems. The Kaibab National Forest has a growing number of horses that are doing similar destruction to that forest. In that situation however, the adjacent tribes have agreed to help remove some of the horses and take them back to tribal lands. The San Carlos and White Mountain Apache tribal lands have thousands of horses, but are reluctant to reveal just how many.

From all indications, the horse issue will not go away. Why? Because of the well-funded horse advocate groups ,like the American Wild Horse Campaign, that continue a daily campaign of misinformation. The “wild” horse industry has political connections, funding for misinformation, the emotional tug-at-heartstrings and more recently have pressed the idea that contraceptive darting will stall the onslaught of more horses. The sheer volume of inoculating over 150,000 horses annually is mind boggling. Combine that with the fact that the mare continually cycles into heat and the studs continually try to impregnate the mares and at the same time control herd balance. That effort is absolutely impractical.

The group Arizona Sportsmen for Wildlife Conservation recently voted to become a co-plaintiff in forcing the Tonto National Forest to have a NEPA work done on the Salt River area. NEPA is the National

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Arizona Elk Society

Environmental Policy Act, which forces the Federal Agency (The Tonto National Forest) to justify their planned continuance of having over 400 horses on 19,000 acres, destroying all of that habitat. While I am not familiar with other states’ actions, it is the first time that anyone can recall where we joined forces with the Center for Biological Diversity, cattlemen, and other conservation groups to cease the madness. Negotiations are in process as of this writing, but it appears that the suit will be filed within a few weeks at most.

Some may think I hate horses. Nothing could be further from the truth. I do however have a strong distaste for the wild horse advocates who have created this mess by countless litigations, the spreading of misinformation and using grossly understated numbers for those back

east regarding the wild horses and burros of the west.

Considering that this is just Arizona, think about states like Nevada, New Mexico, Wyoming, Montana, Washington and others. The future of wildlife across the west is in the balance. I hope others start ringing the alarm bells as well. The last truly good article I read was by the Journal of Wildlife Management, published in 2021. Their numbers should really concern all of us. They estimated at that time that there were over 300,000 wild / feral horses across the United States. Combine that with the over 50,000 in horse hotels waiting for adoption and at an annual cost exceeding $80,000,000.00 and the picture starts to come into focus. We have a problem and it will not simply go away. Wildlife as we know it is hanging in the balance.

The future of Arizona’s wildlife and habitats relies on the next generation of conservationists and their ability to scientifically manage, appreciate and enjoy our state’s wildlife resources. The Arizona Elk Society is investing in wildlife conservation by offering scholarships to students studying wildlife sciences or a closely related field. Scholarships are available to students who will or are already attending accredited colleges.

CONGRATULATIONS

2023 AES SCHOLARSHIP WINNERS RYAN ANDERSON

WHEATON SMITH ALEXIS BLASSINGAME

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Michelle: 623.521.6096

michelle@tomapartners.com michelleborrellirealtor.com

$1,000.00 Donated to “HEROES RISING

Michelle Borrelli has Partnered up with Arizona Elk Society....

If you are passionate about assisting our Veterans, as I am, take a minute to visit this web site michelleborrellirealtor.com to learn how YOU can support our Veterans. This important program is specifically designed to benefit our Veterans, the Arizona Elk Society members base and their families. All you have to do is tell me” I want to assist a Veteran” or simply send a message. Together WE will make a difference!

For each successful transaction greater than *$250,000, whether buying or selling, on residential or commercial, Michelle Borrelli will donate $1,000.00 of her personal proceeds to “Heroes Rising Outdoors”

This program affords the opportunity for a veteran to experience nature through AZ Elk Society’s outdoor camps, taking part in Ecotherapy!

Contact Michelle today 623.521.6096

Let’s give our Veterans the support they deserve!

Your Family Real Estate Company. We make you feel at home. WWW.TOMAPARTNERS.COM • CENTURY 21 TOMA PARTNERS • 8325 W Happy Valley Rd Suite 120 Peoria Az 85383
OUTDOORS” Program
© 2020 Century 21 Real Estate LLC. CENTURY 21® and the CENTURY 21 Logo are registered service marks owned by Century 21 Real Estate LLC. Equal Housing Opportunity. Each office is independently owned and operated. By the way... I am never too busy to assist good people in their new home journey and I appreciate your referrals.
MB Arizona Elk Society 25
“Your Arizona Elk Society Realtor!”
Fine Homes & Estates, CDPE, ASP REALTOR Michelle Borrelli

HABITAT PARTNERS OF ARIZONA

With the rapid loss of open space to development, wildlife habitat is being reduced at a rate of 7 square miles per day. Arizona’s elk herds are loosing traditional migration corridors, calving grounds, forage meadows and other important habitat. The new “Habitat Partners of Arizona” program is designed to help protect that land. The main focus of this program will be to preserve land and prevent the rapid decline of Arizona’s elk habitat.

HERE’S HOW YOU CAN HELP: Become a Habitat Partner with your tax deductible donation starting at $2500 ($1000 for 17 and under).

Payment Plan Available: $500 minimum commitment per year. You will be recognized for a donation level once your payments reach that level for each level you attain.

All program participants that reach the $2500 level and above ($1000 for youth) will be recognized in literature and on the AES website and will receive a plaque at each level.

If you are interested in donating property or a conservation easement, the AES will work with you to designate the appropriate level based on the value of the donation.

DONATION LEVELS:

Legacy Partner $500,000

Habitat Guardian $250,000

Monarch Partner $50,000

Imperial Partner $25,000

Royal Partner $10,000

Supporting Partner $5,000

Sponsor Partner $2,500

Spike Partner (17 & under) $1,000

FOR MORE INFO AND TO DONATE: You can find more details and the donation form at www.arizonaelksociety.org.

David Baril

Sponsor Partner

Tom & Janet Bowman

Sponsor Partner

Harry Carlson

Imperial Partner

Stephen Clark

Sponsor Partner

Ron & Sharon Eichelberger

Sponsor Partner

Walt and Cookie Nicoson

Royal Partner

Sallie Page

Pete Page

Sponsor Partner

Sharon & John Stuckey

Imperial Partner

Bass Pro Shops

Sponsor Partner

Cabela’s Sponsor Partner

Pacific West Representatives

Royal Partner

Sportsman’s Warehouse

Sponsor Partner

26 Tracker 1st Quarter 2023

ARIZONA ELK SOCIETY FOUNDING MEMBERS

Founding Associate Members

Douglas Sr & Donna Obert

Founding Life Members

Ken Alexander+

John & Patti Anderson

Michael J Anderson

Ernest Apodaca, Jr+

David Baril+

Randy Beck

Keith Berger

Esther Cadzow

John Cadzow*

Harry Carlson*

Randy A Cherington+

Pete Cimellaro

Steve Clark

Todd A Coleman

Richard Currie

Don Davidson

Kay Davidson

Larry Day

Sharon Eichelberger

Ron Eichelberger

Peter Ekholm*

Daron Evans

Will & Fran Garrison*

Ed Hightower

Michael Horstman+

James Johnson

Earl C Johnson

Edward E Johnson

Richard Johnson+

Mitchell Jones

Sandra G Kauffman

Richard E Kauffman, Sr

Bill Kelley

Peter S Klocki+

John Koleszar+

James Lara

Tim Littleton

James Lynch Jr+

Don Martin

Russ McDowell

William D Meredith

Anthony Nichols

Cookie Nicoson

Walt Nicoson*

Mark Nixon

Donna Obert

Douglas Obert, Sr*

Shawn Patterson

Jan Purdy

Forrest Purdy

Mark Raby+

Mel Risch+

Rick Schmidt+

Tom Schorr

Gregory Stainton

Douglas Stancill

Vashti “Tice” Supplee+

Dan Taylor

John Toner

Corey Tunnell

Rick Vincent, Sr

Don Walters, Jr

Dee White

Larry White+

Mark Worischeck

Joseph Worischeck

Chuck Youngker

Founding Sustaining Members

Everett & Joyce Nicoson

Founding Couple Members

Bridgid & Ron Anderson

Denny* & Paula Bailey

Robert F & Shirley J Banks

John & Taina Beaty

Robin & Billie Bechtel

Brad & Shelley Borden

Philip* & Jamie Brogdon+

Mark & Shanna Brooks

Shawn & Lisa Carnahan

Kim & Lynn Carter, Sr

Danny R Cline & Pat Thompson

Tim & Patti Garvin

W Hays & Suzanne Gilstrap

Don & Gwen Grady

Steve & Bobi Hahn

Igor & Christy Ivanoff

Daniel & Danny Johnson

Glen & Tracey Jones

Richard & Wendy Kauffman

Bill & Mary Keebler

Mark & Lynda Kessler

Mel & Diane Kincaid

Richard & Christine Krantz

Dick & Nancy Krause

Eric & Wendy Krueger

Ron & Lisa Lopez+

Gary & Lin Maschner

Shane & Tiffany May

Kevin & Donna McBee

Roger & Micaela Mellen

Denny & Pat Moss

Robert & Diana Noel

Richard Oberson & Bonnie McAuley*

William & Vera Rezzonico

Clarence Rodriquez MD

Richard & Anna Schmidt

David Scott & Rosemarie Nelson

Bruce & Lisa Snider

Macey & Becky Starling

Ed & Ace Stevens

Tim & Ellena Tanner

Craig & Susan Thatcher

Tom & Kristel Thatcher

Marvin & Margo Thompson+

Jim & Shellie Walker+

Keith & Lois Zimmerman

Founding General Members

Kendall Adair

Gary Anderson*

Jim Andrysiak

Denny Ashbaugh

Ron Barclay

Cal Bauer

John F Bauermeister

Robert Baughman

Manny Bercovich

Dr Tom Boggess, III

Tom Brown

Tom Carroll

Steve Cheuvront

Carolyn Colangelo

Mike Cupell

Jack Daggett

Kyle Daggett+

Bob Davies

Gary A Davis

Nathan Day

John W Decker*

Chris Denham

Neal E Dial

Craig Dunlap

Jennifer Evans

Bobby Fite

Chris Flanders

Lorenzo A Flores

Roger Gibson

Courtney Gilstrap

Floyd Green

Jon Hanna

Douglas Hartzler

Art Hathaway

Dean Hofman

David J Hofman

Norma E Hook*

Russ Hunter

David Hussey

Rick Johnson

Mike Jones

Doug Jones

Todd Julian

Charlie Kelly

Charles A Kerns

John Krause

Joseph M Lane+

Robby Long

Aaron Lowry*

Rick MacDonald

Joe Makaus*

Daniel Martin

Michael L Mason

Mike McCormick

Donald Meakin

James O Meeks

Jason Mercier

Jim Mercier

Tracey Miner

Ken Moss

Ronald J Nadzieja

Mike N Oliver

Craig Pearson

Kenneth B Piggott

Bethena Pugh

Carlos Quihuis

Mark Raby*

Robert L Read*

Neal Reidhead*

Kyle Sanford

Craig Sanford

Tony Seddon

Arnold Shelton

Dennis Shipp

Tom Sisco

Bruce Sitko

M Scott South

Carl Staley

Randy Stout

Kenneth K Stringer

John W Stuckey

Dave Swayzee*

Troy Tartaglio

Gary TeBeest

Todd Thelander

Charles B Thompson

Stan Thompson

Thom Tokash

Brian Van Kilsdonk

Rick Vaughn

Kathy L Vincent

Rick Vincent II

Don R Walker

Douglas Watson

Vince Watts

Todd Weber

Donald D Weber Jr

Tom Wooden

Douglas Woodward*

Founding Junior Members

Tyler Getzwiller

Kevin H Knight

Daniel Raby

Nathan Raby

James Rawls

Sheena Smith

Blake Tartaglio

Alexandra Tartaglio

Alexis Tartaglio

Travis Thatcher

Clayton Thatcher

Nathan Thatcher

Wayne Thatcher

Taylor Thatcher

Alexandra Vincent

Emma C Vincent

Justin M Vincent

Prior to March 17, 2002, AES Founding Memberships were available. These individuals and couples came forth to show their support for the AES in it’s early stages of development. During the formation of the AES, administrative funds were needed to pay for organizational costs that led up to the first fundraising banquet on March 16, 2002. Founding Members paid a premium membership fee to help make the first year a success. For their support and dedication, the following Founding Members will receive permanent recognition by the AES.

+ Membership upgraded * Deceased

i
Arizona Elk Society 27
7773 W. Golden Lane Peoria, Arizona 85345 CHANGE SERVICES REQUESTED Performing to be Preferred. Service. Performance. Every time. 602.454.7800 k2elec.com COGNIZANT, PHOENIX 28 Tracker 1st Quarter 2023
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