Friday, 22 April 2005 12:26

Harassment in the hills of Nevada

Written by Cecil Fredi
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Every time you go to the field be prepared for a confrontation. That is a good possibility, especially if you use an off-road vehicle. Currently there are two bills, SB397 and SB400 that, if passed, will have many negative impacts, not only on hunters but all people who use the outdoors.

First, SB397 is what Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) wants to impose on Nevada sportsmen. It is fourteen pages of more rules, more regulations and more penalties and nothing to enhance game numbers. SB400 is eight pages of new regulations, fees and penalties for off-road vehicle users.

Before we get into the details of these two bills, let’s explain why these harassment bills should never have been proposed. When Governor Kenny Guinn appointed John Moran and Tommy Ford to the Nevada Wildlife Commission sportsmen thought good things would be coming to them. Nothing could have been further from the truth. The governor relied on those two individuals for their recommendations for future appointments to the Commission. Their selection couldn’t have been any worse. 

The Wildlife Commission is a nine member board of which five are sportsmen’s representatives. They not only did not represent sportsmen, they have sold them out. What should have happened was to get five people on the Wildlife Commission who wanted NDOW to go in a new direction. Under Director Terry Crawforth’s guidance, for the last seven years, sportsmen have had more rules, more regulations, increased penalties, higher fees and fewer deer.

Instead of getting this agency out of this mentality, it was more important for John Moran and Tommy Ford to get their buddy Clint Bentley on the Wildlife Commission than to get rid of Terry Crawforth. Had five members of the Wildlife Commission sent the governor a letter of no confidence on Terry Crawforth, he would not have been able to initiate a harassing bill such as SB397.

Last session, a bill took NDOW from a division to a department. This required the Wildlife Commission to submit three names to the governor who would then choose one of them to be the director of NDOW. This was a golden opportunity for the Wildlife Commissioners to recommend someone other than Terry Crawforth, someone who wanted to focus on game not law enforcement. But John Moran and Tommy Ford chose to sell out the sportsmen just to get a buddy on the Commission. If these two bills are passed, their selfishness will have negative repercussions for many years in our state.

It is important to expose the people who helped contrive these harassment laws. The legislative committee consisted of four people. John Moran, an attorney, Bill Bradley, another attorney, Chris MacKenzie, another attorney (they are three reasons why attorneys should not be appointed to the Wildlife Commission) and the worst member of the Committee, none other than John Moran’s and Tommy Ford’s buddy, Clint Bentley. Commissioner Bradley has been on the Commission for nine years and has done nothing to restore our deer. His focus has been more rules, more regulations and higher fees for sportsmen. Clint Bentley’s failures are too numerous to mention. The amazing thing about Bentley, Bradley and MacKenzie is that they were appointed as sportsmen’s representatives. For the representation they have given sportsmen, anti-hunting organizations should present them with a distinguished service award. Here is what this committee along with NDOW dreamed up to harass sportsmen in SB397.

An “administrative roadblock” may be established on any unpaved road for any lawful purpose of enforcing any game regulation. This includes specifically a “check station” whereby any game warden or biologist employed by the “Department” may stop a vehicle in order to determine whether anyone in the vehicle is hunting, fishing or trapping or to obtain biological information or samples of any wildlife harvested. Section 2 and Section 3 (currently, police officers- including game wardens-may establish a roadblock only on a “highway“. NRS 484.359)

If you “disobey the lawful orders or directions of a game warden or biologist”, you may be subject to penalties ranging from a misdemeanor (maximum of 6 months in jail + $500 fine) to a B felony (maximum 6 years in prison +$5,000 fine) depending on the circumstance. Section 6 Disobey? Does that sound like someone disciplining a child?

If a hunter, fisherman, etc., shall fail to appear in Court on a citation, beyond a sanction imposed by the Court, the “Department” will suspend your license, tag or permit indefinitely. You may, by written request, ask the “Department” for a hearing to reestablish your license, etc., Section 8

Incredibly, the Department of Wildlife has the audacity to propose that “any employee of the “Department” may take any wildlife from anyplace and in any manner for any purpose determined by “the Director” to be in the interest of conserving wildlife, etc. This gives carte blanche discretion to Terry Crawforth to make up practically any excuse for he and his employees to hunt out of season or in violation of any of the many rules that you and I must comply with! This amounts to legalized poaching for NDOW employees only!

If a hunter kills a big game animal “in a manner, during a time or in a place otherwise prohibited by a specific statute or a regulation adopted by the Wildlife Commission”, the penalties may be a criminal conviction of either a gross misdemeanor or felony, NRS 501.376 (amended during the last legislative session at the request of NDOW to raise penalty from a misdemeanor). The attempt is being made currently to increase the suspension time of a hunter’s license from 3 years to “5 years, if convicted of a gross misdemeanor and 10 years if convicted of a felony.” Section 9

Perhaps the most outrageous section of NDOW’s proposed legislation is empowering a game warden to search any dwelling house without a warrant ! Let’s just trash the fourth amendment of the U.S. Constitution so NDOW can search your house without a warrant. Why would NDOW and the Wildlife commissioners even consider such a preposterous proposal? The law currently requires a warrant be obtained from a judge to enter a home. (NRS 501.375 {3} If you protest in any way the entry into your home by game wardens or “obstruct, hinder, delay or otherwise interfere with any officer, employee or agent of the “Department” in the performance of any duty”, you are guilty of a misdemeanor and subject to 6 months in jail and a $500 fine.

And finally, the law currently prohibits the hunting of any game animal with the aid of any aircraft, the information being communicated to hunters on the ground. NDOW’s proposed legislation further restricts the use of information garnered through the use of aircraft by disallowing the use of such information by hunters within 48 hours of the aircraft handing. Section 15 (3)

Curiously enough, the next Section (4) of the legislation flatly states that “It is unlawful to use any information obtained by aircraft to hunt or kill mammals or game birds”. In other words, if you fly over an intended hunting area in the spring and see elk, antelope, etc. you cannot use said information in your hunt next fall!

This bill is merely another example of NDOW’s obsession with law enforcement at the expense of meaningful game management and the protection of our rights to hunt and fish which are being challenged daily.

For the off-road vehicle users, this is what you can expect if SB400 passes. An “off-road vehicle” will include any all-terrain vehicle, all-terrain motorcycle, dune buggy and snowmobile. Section 4.

No person shall operate an off-road vehicle in the state of Nevada unless he has obtained and attached to his vehicle a certificate of operation. Failure to obtain an display such a certificate exposes the user to an “administrative fine” of up to $500.

The manner in which the “Department” manages this source of new-found wealth is not specified in the bill. However, if you fail to appear on such a citation, the further penalty is set out as explained in SB 397 above. If you obtain your vehicle after January 1, 2006 - you must apply to the “Department” for a Certificate of Title which can only be obtained if a Certificate of Operation or Certificate of Verification has been obtained from a licensed “dealer” of such vehicles- Section 8

There are four classes of certificate provided and the red tape and fees charged are substantial. It is interesting to note that the enforcement of this registration requirement is all “in house”, within the “Department”, in other words, citations contemplated to be written by game wardens, an administrative fine paid to the “Department” the sanction of license suspension for failure to appear or pay the fine, the overseeing of the standards of issuance and fees for the Certificate of Operation, and the policing of vehicle compliance in the field, will inevitably call for more law enforcement within the “Department”!
The next bureaucratic brainchild of the Department of Wildlife is to establish a “fund” in which to place these new license/certificate revenues, created “within the Department”. Section 11

A seven member committee is to be formed from various groups supposedly representing users of off-road vehicles in the state. (no hunter’s representative is called for ) Curiously enough, seven “organizations” have been pre-selected to submit names to the governor for appointment to the “Committee”.

This committee is an example of bureaucracy at its worst! The members are to be paid per diem and travel expenses “if money is available”. Section 3 {5}

The committee is to adopt standards in receiving requests for “Grants” of funds to enhance and maintain trails and “other opportunities for off-road use.” (whatever that means) additionally for education and safety training relating to off-road vehicles. (you can expect a driver’s license of some kind will be required next) Of course, the “Department” gets its share in the form of money to provide “law enforcement”. Section 12

Finally, in a single sentence, the “Department’s” control of the whole mess is reaffirmed in Subsection 2 wherein it states, “The Director may adopt regulations required for the operation of the committee!”

The result of the committee and fund concept is to buy off the seen off-road organizations by giving a voice (ultimately, no doubt, it will be reduced to the whisper NDOW affords wildlife advisory boards) and an opportunity to share in the wealth, establishing play areas for vehicles, organized races, etc. NDOW will benefit in a massive expansion of their bureaucracy with an eye toward controlling all off-road vehicle use from the State’s perspective. A large infusion of revenue for law enforcement will be available which is the obvious priority of NDOW as evidenced by the many laws, rules and regulations sought in the past! With the requirement of certification of off-road vehicles will come the logical request for more law enforcement to force compliance by literally thousands of sportsmen! You can expect such things as prohibiting hunting with the use of a four-wheeler ( a goal NDOW sought from the Wildlife Commission recently but was met with major resistance from hunters) or the requirement of liability insurance as is the case in Canada. The comical aspect of the scheme is the fact that rather than a logical connection between vehicle registration and the need for tax money, such as a car tag and funds to build roads- NDOW has “created” a need (the fund and committee to oversee the expenditure of sportsmen’s dollars) and then created a manner to finance this trumped-up need. In reality, it is merely a power play and another means for government to get its hands in your pocket!

For you naysayers who think these bills won’t cause harassment, it would be wise to consider what happened as a result of a bill passed in the 2003 session. Anti-hunter anti-gun state senator Dina Titus, with the help of none other than (should be) sportsmen’s representative Bill Bradley were instrumental in getting SB135 passed.

The intent of this bill was that if a person shot a big game animal without a tag, the individual would be prosecuted for a felony. On numerous occasions, NDOW has used this 2003 law to prosecute people on felony charges using technicalities as no big game animal was shot without a tag. If NDOW has circumvented this law, they will do the same for their proposed bills should they become law.

For the future, sportsmen need to be made aware that John Moran, Bill Bradley, Clint Bentley, Chris MacKenzie and Tommy Ford were responsible for turning a Wildlife Department into a Police Agency. They are all a disgrace for having failed the sportsmen of this state and their capricious acts will be felt in this state for generations.

By Cecil Fredi
reprinted from the US Oregon Observer Newspaper

Cecil Fredi is president of HUNTER’S ALERT and can be reached at

Editor’s note: Former Wildlife Commissioner John Moran is considering running for Lieutenant Governor. His involvement in helping to propose harassing laws and his recommendation to appoint Clint Bentley to the Wildlife Commission are disastrous to the sportsmen of the state of Nevada. If this is any indication of his public service, we don’t need John Moran holding a political office.

Last modified on Monday, 23 October 2006 07:01
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