Sunday, 11 February 2007 01:05

Nevada Wildlife – Crimes and Crisis

Written by Bud Sonnentag
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Nevada - As I looked around the audit hearing room, it was impossible not to notice the people who weren't present who should be here. Where are the Board of Wildlife Commissioners, I thought, and their usual phalanx of enviro-conservationists? Where are all the officials from the big name Nevada sportsmen's groups like Bighorns Unlimited, the Fraternity of Desert Bighorn, Nevada Bowhunters Association and the Mule Deer Foundation? Where's the United States Fish & Wildlife (USF&WS) and the Sierra Club? What the heck! Where's the News Media? I must be in the wrong room for sure...Until I saw Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) Acting Director Buonamici walk all came into focus. I said to myself, sensing the audit was dirty, I'll bet the whole bunch of them are going to be deserters. 

Following a recent state audit hearing of NDOW on December 14th 2006, monumental revelations of criminal activity involving officers of four government and private groups came to light. The state audit calls this NDOW activity "inappropriate," which in this case is a euphemism for the more appropriate word "criminal," because the Nevada statutes that were violated were listed.


Over a period of 6 years from 2000, through 2006, NDOW Director Terry Crawforth was illegally using restricted federal government money to run the Water Development program called guzzlers. While juggling the books using special interest group’s donations with no records of it, Crawforth mixed these donations with $536,000 dollars of restricted federal and state money. Nevada Bighorn sheep societies annually donate huge sums of money to NDOW to build guzzlers exclusively for desert bighorn sheep with no accountability of where their money is going. These wild sheep societies' mission statement says: Every dollar donated to them by supporters will be used to build and maintain guzzlers. NDOW's mission statement and responsibility on page 24 of the audit report however, states in plain English that they alone have the sole responsibility of building and maintaining guzzlers and on top of that they haven't kept detailed records of how this private money was being used. It is not lawful for special interest groups to have contact or control of wild sheep or guzzlers at any time without NDOW’s presence. Only NDOW has this grave responsibility. Partnerships never give the private sector influence or control over wild animals. Because of NDOW’s lame excuse of no money they relinquished control of management to this special interest group. By mixing private, state and federal money in this fashion, discourages sound wildlife management and only encourages corruption (and disasters) on a grand scale where all parties benefit some way, except of course "all Nevada Sportsmen." 

NDOW and the sheep societies passing responsibility back and forth recently caused the death of millions of dollars worth of prized bighorns by guzzler water being shut off and neither outfit taking the blame. Sheep society members Pribyl and McDaniels should have been arrested and prosecuted for tampering with state property under current laws that are in place to manage wildlife (please refer to Hunters Alert web site at, summer issue of 2006 news letter).

Obviously, unmistakable collusion by state, federal and private groups who attempt to downplay the seriousness of this audit only goes to show their intent to continue with the same status quo system of Nevada wildlife management in the future.

I go on record asking our newly elected Governor Jim Gibbons to intervene on behalf of "all" Nevada sportsmen (who were undeniably instrumental in electing him to office) to initiate a state inquest and a federal investigation of NDOW, the Wildlife Commission, the Bighorn Sheep Societies and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USF&WS). The focus of these proceedings is to uncover racketeering which clearly is warranted in the audit report of NDOW. Furthermore, it's in the best interest of Governor Gibbons to do so for four reasons. (1) Because it is necessary to lay the blame for this illegal activity exposed by the audit in the right place and not allow it to be covered up for another 40 years. (2) The sportsmen of Nevada are counting on Jim to make changes for them and their beleaguered game animals. (3) To rid his pristine administration of people who will most assuredly cause him public embarrassment in the future. I refer to out going Governor Guinn's Oct 11th firing of NDOW Acting Director Doug Hunt. (4) Governor Gibbons has a perfect opportunity to appoint a new NDOW director as well as an all new 9 member Wildlife Commission if and when he so chooses.

Based on one statement by Wildlife Commissioner Chairman Bill Bradley on Feb. 21, 2005, testifying to a legislature committee meeting before Chairman Claborn, a collusive lie is exposed. Bradley says: If that’s where it would have stopped, then I would feel embarrassed or chagrinned up here to say the Wildlife Commission isn't keeping an eye on this budget. But that's not where it stopped, because we had the charge to review and recommend. I want you to know that this is not an agency (NDOW) that is going without any oversight. We take our charge from the Governors Office very seriously. We believe we have absolute accountability to both the Governor's Office and this Legislature.

Based on this obvious double talk and the dirty audit report, I ask on behalf of all Nevada sportsmen for the immediate resignation of all 9 Wildlife Commissioners. As Assemblyman Joe Hogan so aptly put it, "So everybody gets a clean slate established for them."

I limit this testimony out of respect but I've attached a further detailed account of my assessments of the inner workings and dealings of these people and their agencies. Following the meeting, copies will be left on the table for everyone. A copy is also being published in a national news paper and mailed to thousands in Nevada.

NDOW Audit – Black Or White?

To better understand audits being performed on state or federal agencies it's a great help to know that auditors work for their own government agencies and can be replaced by power politics. This puts their jobs in a double bind situation. They are required to follow certain protocol as not to blow their own agencies they audit clear out of the water by their choice of words in their final reports. Audits are monetary windows that allow us to see the performance of an agency through auditors carefully choosing their words while the auditor does his best to stay "middle of the road" and not blow himself out of the water. As is the case with a dirty audit such as NDOW's, we have both numbers and words to examine carefully. Under pressure to "please," Nevada State Auditor Paul Townsend can tell you he walks this tight-rope often. Paul is professional, no doubt!    The following facts are straight out of the NDOW audit report. You make the call (parenthesis are mine to replace a euphemism).

Page 24: First, controls did not ensure expenditures funded with restricted revenue were in accordance with state law. Since fiscal year 2000, expenditures totaling approximately $800,000 have been inappropriately (unlawfully) funded with restricted revenues. Page 25: Per NRS (Nevada Revised Statutes), the use of most of these funds is very restrictive (Italics are mine). Page 24: Although the use of these funds is restricted, they have been inappropriately (illegally) used to fund more than $536,000 of Water Development program expenditures. The Water Development program is responsible for the construction, maintenance, and repair of devices known as guzzlers. According to Department officials [in this case Terry Crawforth], donations and federal grants are the funding sources for the Water Development program. However, the Department's records indicate the only funding source since fiscal year 2000, has been federal grants. This audit report excerpt is the keyhole to see how NDOW, Wildlife Commissioners, Special interest groups and USF&WS are joined at the hip.

To express this hip connection even more I've listed the names of the people in Nevada and their affiliations showing where they stand on this audit that was born in Assemblyman Claborn's Feb. 21, 2005 committee meeting. The following people supported the audit from its inception: Cecil Fredi - Hunters Alert, Bud Sonnentag - Member of Friends of Nevada Deer Herd, Assemblyman Claborn, Dr.Gerald Lent - Nevada Hunters Association, Dennis Dunn - Professional guide and rancher, Carl Worthington – sportsman, Ron Jones – sportsman, Bob Eddy - Lobster man Listed next are the persons who vehemently opposed the audit: Terry Crawforth - NDOW Director since 1998, Bill Bradley - 2005 Chairman of Wildlife Commission, Larry Johnson - NBU Official and President of the Coalition of Nevada Wildlife, Tina Nappe – ex-Wildlife Commissioner, environmental busybody and NDOW stool-pigeon, Fred Church – President of the Nevada Bow Hunters Association, Joe Johnson – President of the Toiyabe Chapter of the Sierra Club and Rick Elmore - recent President of Nevada Bighorns Unlimited.
Listed now are the opposer's incriminating recorded statements of Feb. 21, 2005, attempting to head off this foreseeable dirty audit. Like I said, you make the call? Director Terry Crawforth: I've heard it said, that there are two great lies about audits (this says volumes about Crawforth’s aversion to audits and rightly so from looking at the audit outcome). Crawforth continues, Just about every year the USF&WS audits our federal funds, which is 40% of our revenues every 5 years (Crawforth seriously implicates and condemns the USF&WS in this statement for the Service taking no action against him when these audits would've shown that he was illegally juggling federal funds).

Bill Bradley: Previously stated in the article but also said: In terms of an audit, I agree with what Mr. Johnson said.

Larry Johnson: My reason for being in opposition to Assembly Bill 3 is.... Rather than bore you I'll condense Johnson's testimony. He tried to convince everyone the audit cost would be prohibitively expensive to NDOW, the sportsmen and the Bighorn Sheep societies, throwing wildlife management in Nevada in total disarray.
Fred Church: We do not support having an audit, as this one requested, coming out of line.

Joe Johnson: Generally speaking, we would support sound fiscal policy and we have no reason to believe that the Department does not practice that.
Rick Elmore: Much of what I was going to say to you has been covered by Mr. Bradley and Mr. Johnson (Larry).

Tina Nappe: Let me first state that this woman is so mealy-mouthed it's difficult to pin her down unless you're Willie Molini. She says, Auditors, being accountants, love to demand more accounting systems in which invariably reduced funds for other purposes (in short, she agrees with Larry Johnson's camp).

United States Fish & Wildlife Service

NDOW draws much needed support from the USF&WS. If the USF&WS says or does nothing about NDOW's illegal activities, NDOW’s home free. It's up to the USF&WS to prosecute but when they won't, it becomes racketeering. I've already pointed out earlier in the article one of two reasons why I listed the USF&WS's involvement in Nevada wildlife as racketeering; (Crawforth's Feb 21st 2005 testimony). I'll even back this up with a better second reason by using a statement made on record Feb. 21, 2005, by Nevada State Auditor Paul Townsend. Paul says, "We will review things, do a preliminary survey, make sure everything looks - if we've got any concerns in a particular area that could involve federal funds, we may look at them there as well. If we did have findings in that area we would pass those findings along to federal agencies." Knowing Mr. Townsend’s professionalism, I'm quite confident he passed these findings on to the USF&WS. The big (racketeering) question is….What has the USF&WS done about Terry Crawforth's using over a period of 6 years, $800,000 of illegal, restricted Pittman/Robertson federal funds when they've known about it since mid-summer of 2006, if not for 6 years? Is this racketeering or not? Just as I originally thought, it turns out the whole bunch of them were deserters because they knew the audit was dirty.

Please call the Governor’s Office and the Attorney Generals Office of the State of Nevada and let them know. Their phone numbers are: Governor  - 775-684-5670 - Attorney General’s Office - 775-684-1100.

Last modified on Sunday, 11 February 2007 01:07
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