Arizona in Focus: What it takes to make sure wildlife have water

This water catchment near the Arizona Game & Fish Department’s headquarters in the West Valley is surrounded by metal fencing to keep out livestock in the area. (Photo by Jonah Hrkal/Cronkite News)

Water catchments vary in size. This catchment holds four 2,500-gallon tanks beneath its corrugated metal apron. (Photo by Jonah Hrkal/Cronkite News)

Those who manage water catchments often track rainfall. Although rain during monsoon season can help, it’s usually too sporadic to count on, requiring people to truck and fly in water to catchments. (Photo by Jonah Hrkal/Cronkite News)

Wildlife get water from troughs like this one that are connected to a catchment that refills automatically. “We made it 8 feet long for bats to be able to drink, so we’re talking all wildlife, all manners of wildlife,” Joe Currie says. (Photo by Jonah Hrkal/Cronkite News)

Joseph “Joe” Currie is the program manager of Arizona Game & Fish Department’s water catchment program. He’s responsible for more than 3,000 catchments across the state. (Photo by Jonah Hrkal/Cronkite News)

Nate Solomon with the Arizona Game & Fish Department leads a small team that refills and maintains water catchments throughout Arizona. (Photo by Jonah Hrkal/Cronkite News)

Arizona in Focus is a podcast from Cronkite News, the news division of Arizona PBS. Each season we dive deep into a particular topic or story to bring you stories you haven’t heard elsewhere. Check out the rest of our episodes here, and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or Spotify.

PEORIA – The Arizona Game & Fish Department maintains nearly 3,000 water catchments for wildlife around the state, many in rugged locations that are challenging to reach. These man-made watering facilities sustain animals during hot and dry periods. Wildlife use them year-round.

Joseph “Joe” Currie is responsible for making sure the catchments are well-maintained. Over his 22 seasons with Arizona Game & Fish, Currie has spent the past 13 working on, and now supervising, water for wildlife.

“It’s actually been very important for stabilizing the population of wildlife in Arizona,” he told Cronkite News reporter Jonah Hrkal. “If we didn’t have the water out there, we’d witness really drastic fluctuations in the population.”

In this episode of Arizona in Focus, Hrkal visited a catchment off Carefree Highway to learn more about what it takes to quench the thirst of deer, javelina, bobcats, mountain lions, bighorn sheep and birds.

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Sustainability Reporter, Phoenix