Friday, 30 September 1994 17:00

State hunting: Past, present,—future!

Written by Ira Hansen
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Sept. 1 is coming up quickly. This date has always been greatly anticipated by area hunters. It's the opening day of dove season, the start of fall hunting. Times change; my hunter instinct has mellowed with age, but my son's are just budding. My oldest boy will experience his first Nevada deer hunt this season. He will be the fifth generation of his family to hunt here; his great-great grandfather lived and hunted in Lincoln County in the 1870's.

 Hunting is much more than merely killing—it's a family ritual, a tradition, a rite of passage into manhood. With my interest in hunting, as well as politics, it was only natural that I would link up with groups that defended "consumptive users" — hunters, trappers and fishermen. I am a lifetime member of Nevada Bighorns Unlimited, a member of the Nevada Wildlife Federation, the National Rifle Association, the Nevada Trappers Association, and I'm a founding member of the Coalition for Nevada's Wildlife. The Coalition was formed in 1991 to promote the interests of Nevada's hunters and game populations. A referendum in Arizona, attempting to outlaw consumptive uses of wildlife, was the catalyst for this group's formation. Spearheading it was the Nevada Bighorns Unlimited. Many large and small outdoorsmen groups joined, anticipating real political clout for the promotion of the sportsman's interests. Sadly, many of the original founders are becoming disillusioned. The coalition's focus has been the promotion and defense of the Nevada Division of Wildlife (NDOW). Why is that a problem? Isn't the department itself a promoter of sportsmen's interests? A little background: From 1947 to 1979, we had the Nevada Department of "Fish & Game." It was a big promoter of hunting and helped establish huntable game populations throughout Nevada. In 1979, its name- and focus- was changed; it became the Department of "Wildlife," with an increasing emphasis on non-game species. The Department of Wildlife is governed by the Nevada State Wildlife Commission whose members are appointed by the governor. By the late 1980' s the commission had significantly changed the focus of the wildlife department - sportsmen and their needs became secondary; the promotion of the more politically correct "environmentalism," with its corresponding emphasis on non-consumptive uses of wildlife, became the standard. This was pushed by two commissioners: Bill Prezant, local attorney, and Tina Nappe, an environmental extremist. NDOW has become even more extreme: consider the speeches given by NDOW spokesman Dave Rice. On two separate occasions, Rice attacked trophy hunters (about 100 percent of Nevada hunters) as being "rednecks" and "L.T.D. hunters", an acronym for "less than desirable." This incredible insult to Nevada hunters —whose license and tag fees pay his salary—should have cost him his job. I met with Willie Molini, NDOW director, about the speech. Amazingly, Molini told me he agreed with it in its entirety! Molini (also an appointee) is a major problem for sportsmen. His tenure as director has been marred by department embezzlement, sexual harassment lawsuits and severe budget deficits. The embezzlement, while openly acknowledged, went unprosecuted according to the attorney general's office because, "the department's records were so screwed up they couldn't build a case." The sexual harassment charges against Molini were settled out of court, costing the taxpayers $291,000. The budget deficits were balanced by dramatically increasing tag and license fees paid by sportsmen. I'm not the only one to see Molini as a major problem. Recently gubernatorial candidate Jan Jones stated: "If I am elected governor, one of my first official duties will be the termination of Willie Molini." Gubernatorial candidate Jim Gibbons stated: "We have a slick Willie in Washington and a slick Willie in Nevada. If you elect me governor, I will introduce Willie Molini to a job in the private sector." If the Coalition for Nevada's Wildlife is to survive, it had better show itself to be more than a group of "yes" men for NDOW. A new governor, with a new NDOW director, is a must. A complete house cleaning is in order at NDOW. Ira Hansen is a longtime Sparks resident. His column appears Wednesday.

Reprinted from The Sparks Tribune August 24, 1994

Last modified on Wednesday, 05 May 2010 13:27
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