Friday, 30 September 1994 17:00

FEAR OF REPRISAL

Written by Hunters Alert
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Many guides have come forth acknowledging what a serious predator problem we have in our state but they were reluctant to put it in writing because of fear of reprisal from NDOW. Doesn't that bring to mind visions of World War II Nazi SS troops who persecuted people for speaking out against their government? We have secured statements from some of these guides with the promise that we will not use their names for fear of reprisal. We will call them Guides A, B and C. Below are their stories.

GUIDE A:

Sir:

I am a licensed guide for Desert Sheep and have been for many years.

During the 1993 hunting season I had a client in area 266 outside of

Boulder City.

I found two (2) separate fresh lion tracks in two (2) drainages about a

half mile apart. Within a one (1) mile circle we found the remains of

five (5) Rams and one (1) Ewe Desert Sheep.

I cannot understand why the Department of Wildlife (not to be confused

with the "Department of Fish and Game") will not condone predator

control to save our sheep. Furthermore now I understand they are

considering giving more of of sheep to Texas!

Why not restock the "Sheep Range" which the lions have "wiped out"!

What part of "No" does the Department not understand?

GUIDE B:

I'm asking "Who is in charge?" In my state, is it the Bureau of Land Management, or U.S. Forest Service, or U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, or maybe Nevada Department of Wildlife, or the Old Department of Fish & Game?

I would hope from the above we could get back to the old Nevada Department of Fish & Game. I say this because I will not tolerate drought and habitat as the only reasons for fish and game to go down hill.

I would like to bring to mind the word "predator" and refer back to it later.

1 have hunted and fished in Nevada since 1969. I can't see not hunting deer, sheep or birds again but it's true. I have worked and spent I don't know how much money and time taking care of the state animal, the desert bighorn sheep, and now we give them away.

I would like to refer to predator now. Predator: an animal that preys upon others—one that preys, destroys or devours. If you look a little deeper in this, it is also plundering or pillaging. Remember, not always devour, but destroy.

I feel the sheep herds lost numbers as of 1982 in the Game Range and the McCulloughs, not because of drought. Too many great organizations put water in these areas to supplement the sheep. There is more water in these areas than there has ever been. Fish and Wildlife opened a deer hunt in the Game Range. The deer is the primary food for lions. What deer? The slim deer population there can't support the lion habitat, so now their primary prey is sheep. The deer hunt was open primarily for profit for the Department of Wildlife. What profit? Does the Department remember that the first bid tag for sheep sold for $64,000.00 and the

sheep was harvested in the Game Range. How much are you getting for a deer tag?

About predators--I have proof of predators on our wildlife population, mainly sheep. If some wildlife commissioner or biologist wants this proof I am ready and willing to talk to them.

So I ask you again! Who is in charge? Is it Will Molini, or his boss Job Miller, or U.S. Fish and Wildlife, or BLM. or U.S. Forest Service, or the people of Nevada who want fish and game back in the Department. Until predators are controlled on our state animal, we won't have them >r any other wildlife. Just look at the results of California putting a >an on hunting lions. Now they have lions stalking and eating cats, logs, and people and citizens are now saying the ban was a mistake and should be repealed.

There is another predator that few are aware of, and that is of our trading sheep for wildlife that is not really necessary for augmentation. These groups that are responsible for this are: The governor, the director and commissioners of the Department of Wildlife. Trading is okay but only after we establish herds in our own sheep population, this type of predator is easily eliminated by voting them out or by protesting their decisions on trading our sheep. Sportsmen need to turn out in numbers at wildlife meetings and commissioners meetings to get rid of this predator.

GUIDE C:

As a long time Nevada sheep outfitter we have had the opportunity to observe the natural population cycles of the bighorn sheep. There are many factors (habitat, water, annual precipitation, disease, predation, etc.), which determine the direction a population cycle is heading. As each mountain range is a unique isolated population so are those factors determining trends in each population cycle. The two most devastating factors are disease and predation. Of these predation has the most lasting effect. Disease will generally appear in a high density population and quickly reduce its numbers, such occurred in the Mormon Mountains some ten years ago. However, with favorable conditions the population will begin its upward cycle the following year. With predation this is not the case. First the number of predators will increase to a point where sheep populations can no longer maintain. The number of sheep decline depending on predator pressure, however the population cycle is depressed for a longer period of time as predation persists. A sheep population existing in an area inhabited along with a small mule deer population will allow predator numbers to maintain at levels which will suppress the sheep population indefinitely, which is now the case on the Sheep Range. When this occurs, the predator must be reduced before an increase in sheep numbers will occur.

The removal of a predator (Mountain Lion) from public lands for the enhancement of another species is a very controversial topic, one which our NDOW has chosen to take no action. However, in Nevada a species precedence has been established by the efforts of individuals and organizations contributing to the reintroduction of wild sheep to historic ranges. With this considerable investment it seems an appropriate time to formulate additional regulation to maintain predator levels in all Nevada sheep units. Managing our state wildlife is a business and the

wild sheep are a valuable resource which deserve stronger consideration. If this does not occur it will only be a matter of time before other sheep populations are devastated like Lone Mountain and the Sheep Range. At this time lion numbers on Stone Wall Mountain are on the increase. It is only a matter of time and the population of sheep will also be stricken by predation. Hunters are also reporting increased sightings of mountain lions in the Mormon, Muddy, Black, North Eldorado, Spring, Sheep, Gabbs, and Santa Rosa Ranges. Now is the time to begin a stronger predator control program in an effort to maintain traditional sheep populations and increase opportunity of success with transplant herds. Our NDOW mountain lion harvest objective for 1994-5 is set at 251. However, the majority of units containing wild sheep never have their harvest quota objective filled. With the difficult lion hunting conditions found in sheep country

houndsmen choose to hunt more productive units. Additional incentives and more hunter access need to be provided in these areas. The NDOW could make all big game tags a combination big game and mountain lion permit. The lion portion of the permit would only be valid during the dates of the prescribed big game hunt. The tag holder would not be assessed the fee of a lion tag until the time he harvested a lion. This procedure would allow all tag holders to harvest a lion while in the field hunting big game. NDOW or an organization such as NBU could also provide incentive to hunt sheep units by providing a cash bounty ($500.00) on lions legally harvested in predator problem areas. These are only a couple of suggestions that could impact predator problems. Fellow sportsman, now is the time along with our NDOW to seek better management control of predators.

Last modified on Wednesday, 05 May 2010 13:21
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