Reprinted from the Elko Daily Free Press -

By:  Cecil Fredi

Your newspaper was the only one in our state that consistently printed the truth about the many failures of the Nevada Department of Wildlife and its director, Ken Mayer, soon to be former director. Your newspaper exhibited good journalism when you printed all sides of a previous wildlife story.

My article entitled “NDOW: Agency of Deception” appeared in your paper on November 12. The subject of this article was as the title stated. Misinformation was consistently spewed by NDOW and in particular, director Ken Mayer. Ken Mayer couldn’t stand seeing the truth printed in your newspaper so he rebutted my article with his claims on November 23 entitled “Response to commentary on NDOW, deer herds.”

As usual, Ken Mayer’s article was replete with lies and more misinformation. Ken Mayer’s diatribe prompted former wildlife commission chairman Gerald Lent to write the article on January 12 in your newspaper entitled “Commentary: More misinformation by NDOW chief.” Dr. Lent’s article proved without a doubt that Ken Mayer has a hard time telling the truth.

The final blow came for director Mayer when he decided to become dictator Mayer. In 2001, Assembly bill 291 provided funds for predator control. The intent of this legislation was to reduce lions, coyotes and other predators harmful to game birds and animals. In areas where predator control is being used, game numbers have increased. Ken Mayer did not believe in predator control so he decided to circumvent NRS 502.253 (predator bill) and spend $100,000 on a coyote ecology study.

In addition, Mayer wanted to spend predator money on studying cougar diets in bighorn habitat and cougar-black bear interaction. There have been many, many studies on coyotes and lions and the studies found they eat deer, sheep, and anything else they can kill. The studies that Ken Mayer proposed go completely against the intended use of the money designated for predator control.

When former Assemblyman John Carpenter heard about Ken Mayer’s studies and reckless spending of predator money, he had decided that he had had enough of Mayer’s smoke and mirrors. He wrote a detailed letter to the governor about Mayer’s intentions and how it would not only devastate Elko County but that what he was doing was a direct violation of Nevada statutes.

No governor can be thoroughly versed on every aspect of all state agencies. Governor Sandoval was convinced by some who had his ear that Ken Mayer was the best person to be the director of Nevada Department of Wildlife. Those people, namely Larry Johnson and his Coalition and Nevada Bighorns Unlimited, who convinced the governor to rehire Ken Mayer, should hang their heads in shame. They not only sold out the sportsmen in Nevada but also embarrassed Governor Sandoval.

Ken Mayer’s legacy will show that he would rather climb a 20-foot saguaro cactus and tell a lie than stand flat footed on the ground and tell the truth. Oh, and by the way, he was so bad that he was fired by two governors in two years. How about a little traveling music for Ken Mayer on his way back to California? A song by country singer Roy Clark, entitled “Thank God and Greyhound You’re Gone” would work well.

———————

Cecil Fredi, president of Hunter’s Alert, has lived in Las Vegas for 70 years.

Published in Syndicated Articles

Reprinted from the Elko Daily Free Press

By Cliff and Bertha Gardner

Dear Mr. Ken Mayer: With sadness we read your letter printed in the Nov. 23 issue of the Elko Daily Free Press. Most of what you had to say was untrue.

The most blatant of all, however, was your claim that critics have yet to produce evidence indicating lack of effective predator control is the controlling factor limiting mule deer production throughout Nevada.

Nothing could be farther from the truth. The amount of historical and scientific data demonstrating the positive effects of predator control practices that is available to you and others is voluminous, even in face of the fact that you and others of your ilk have been doing all you can to suppress such information for years now.

What is lacking on your part is your unwillingness to acknowledge the truth. You want the world to believe that man’s influence upon the world is bad — that ranching is bad, that grazing is bad, that roads and power lines are bad, that free enterprise is bad, and private land ownership is bad.

Governmental officials have been suppressing and hiding information from the public for many years now. They don’t want the public to know the truth concerning the importance of livestock grazing and predator control.

On Oct. 6, 2010, the Board of County Commissioners for Elko County sent a copy of Rural Heritage Preservation Project, “Finding of Facts Document” to your agency asking that you address each issue raised within the document so as to determine if past actions taken by the various resource management agencies might be responsible for downtrends in wildlife numbers. Instead of answering the challenge, you sidestepped the issue.

On Dec. 3, the Elko Commission submitted a second letter to your department asking that you respond to their request. Again you avoided answering the County’s request.

In the August 2011 issue of Nevada Rancher, I issued you a challenge asking that you produce data supportive of the positions you have taken in the past regarding wildlife management. I received no response. And so on Sept. 23, while making a presentation before the State Wildlife Commission, I again asked that you or other officials respond to requests made. Again we received no response.

While passing yourself off as experts and by spreading untruths you have been able to snow the public into believing you are protecting the environment when in fact you have been pursuing an agenda detrimental to every value the people hold dear. Deer, sage grouse, songbirds and pygmy rabbits have not declined because of modern human activity. Deer, sage grouse, songbirds and pygmy rabbits have been declining in number because of agency actions that have been put in place over the years.

Four times you have been challenged — four times you have sidestepped the issue. Today we challenge you again. Before you or others working for government go forward with plans for the protection or preservation of sage grouse which might end in causing further harm to every value we hold dear, we demand that the following steps be taken.

First, we demand that a study be undertaken for the purpose of determining sage grouse status and production on private lands owned by the Sorensen family near Secret Valley, as compared to that on lands now owned and controlled by the Bureau of Land Management, midway up the Mary’s River drainage, which have not been grazed for more than 15 years. If this is done, perhaps it will reveal the truth regarding the issue at hand. Is it those working within the private sector whose management practices are hurting sage grouse — or is it those working within the various resources management agencies?

Second, we demand that a large study area (roughly the size of Area 7 and Area 10) be set aside here in Nevada where livestock grazing and predator control practices similar to those which were carried on in the 1940s, ’50s, and ’60s be conducted for a period of 20 or more years for the purpose of determining the true effects of grazing and predator control practices on sage grouse, mule deer and other wildlife.

Third, we demand that a study be completed so as to determine amounts of yearly production and nutritional value of black sage growth or regrowth, on plants that are grazed by domestic sheep on a regular basis, as compared to black sage plants that are left ungrazed from year to year. Should it be found that winter ranges which are grazed routinely produce a much higher percentage of highly nutritious feeds each year than ranges which are left ungrazed from year to year, it may offer an explanation, why it was that sage grouse did so well when great numbers of domestic sheep were being grazed in the past.

Fourth, we demand that officials working for the Nevada Department of Wildlife, the U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, answer and address each question that is presented in the Rural Heritage Preservation Project, Findings of Facts document which has been presented to them, before any new plan, rule, policy or regulation is put in place or implemented for the protection and preservation of sage grouse in the State of Nevada. It now appears that actions of the past have been based on false assumptions. If such is the case, new policy needs to be formulated mirroring those practices that were in place during the first half of the 1900s.

Fifth, we demand that officials working for the Nevada Department of Wildlife make data available showing the total number of mule deer buck tags which were issued within the State of Nevada for each year, beginning in 1945 through 2010; the total number of mule deer doe tags that were issued within the State of Nevada for each year beginning in 1945 through 2010; the total number of mule deer bucks that were harvested each year beginning in 1945 through 2010; and the total number of mule deer does that were harvested each year beginning in 1945 through 2010. For too long now, such data has been hidden from the public. It’s time we know the truth.

Sixth, we demand that before any new plan for the preservation and protection of sage grouse be implemented, such practices as will be proposed by persons working for the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management be first implemented and carried out on the Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge, the Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge, and Hart Mountain Wildlife Refuge, so that their effectiveness can be determined. Should such practices work on refuge lands, then and only then should they be implemented on other lands found throughout the West.

We look forward to your response.

Cliff and Bertha Gardner

Ruby Valley

Published in Online Articles
Sunday, 16 December 2012 14:15

NDOW: Agency of Deception

Reprinted from the Elko Daily Free Press

By:  Cecil Fredi -

In the article titled “Deer management policies in the crosshairs” which appeared in your newspaper on Nov. 3, Ken Mayer failed to tell your readers the entire story. I will tell you what he omitted.

Ken Mayer stated “It hasn’t gone away,” referring to the ongoing controversy about mule deer. Why should it go away? It’s been over two decades that NDOW has done nothing but distort the truth about deer. Let’s prove it.

The article stated the heavy winter of 2010-11 nourished abundant plants and that biologists used this to justify the increase in tags. NDOW has used heavy winters for the decline of mule deer on numerous occasions. Apparently, NDOW’s biologists can have it both ways whenever this excuse fits in.

Director Mayer says the “mule deer population is stable and increasing.” Nothing could be further from the truth. A three-year study of Nevada’s mule deer by two Ph.D.’s will be released next month. Using the data furnished by NDOW, the study states “To say the least, scientists are deeply concerned about the future prospects of sustainable mule deer populations under current trends and policies.”

Ken Mayer finally stated that predators might be a factor. However, what he failed to say was that his agency is sitting on hundreds of thousands of dollars, possibly a million dollars, that is designated for predator control and he is not using it. The Wildlife Commission has not held a predator committee meeting to approve a predation management plan since Feb. 25, 2011. There was no Predation Management plan for 2011-2012, no such plan exists for 2012-2013, nor is a meeting to even discuss such a plan mentioned on any upcoming Wildlife Commission agenda. Does this sound like a director and Wildlife Commission that is truly concerned about our mule deer?

Director Mayer also stated that “Though predators may be a factor, a far more significant one is continued loss of deer habitat.”

Habitat has been the main excuse used by NDOW for about the last seven or eight years. They used the drought excuse for about 10 years. I feel very confident that the habitat excuse will outlast the drought excuse. They will continue to use habitat as their main excuse for declining deer numbers. They can use this everlasting excuse until all of their 30-year government pensions kick in. During the drought years, NDOW’s favorite excuse for declining deer numbers was, when in doubt, blame the drought. Now when NDOW needs a new excuse to grab at, make it habitat.

Director Mayer stated, “I think we have the best team in the west to figure these things out.” NDOW biologists have been using excuses for over two decades and still haven’t figured it out. It’s quite obvious whatever science they are using isn’t working and it’s time to change the scientists. NDOW has had enough time to fix the problem. Either they can’t or won’t fix it. Neither excuse is acceptable to the people who pay their salaries.

Director Mayer is weary of attacks by “self-proclaimed wildlife experts.” In order to shut these “experts” up, all that would need to be done is to bring back our deer, something that isn’t being done. It’s that simple to shut them up. But Ken Mayer doesn’t think that way. He is more concerned about the 280 people who hunt sheep than the 51,011 who hunted deer in 1988 with a 53 percent success ratio.

Ever since Ken Mayer was hired six years ago, he has proven he is an expert at one thing: the exploitation of wildlife for financial and political advantage. But what will NDOW do when the deer population fails to the point where it is no longer viable to hunt in much of Nevada? The answer is simple: Ken Mayer will go back to California where he came from and laugh every month when his pension check comes in the mail while the citizens and wildlife of Nevada continue to suffer.

Tony Wasley, NDOW’s mule deer expert, stated that today’s numbers (deer) are closer to what should be expected on average. Apparently, Mr. Wasley doesn’t want to believe the old-timers in Elko County like John Carpenter and Cliff Gardner and many others who witnessed deer migrations by the thousands.

This is how Director Mayer has solved the two most important wildlife problems in our state. Problem: Declining deer numbers. Solution: Change Tony Wasley’s title from biologist to “mule deer expert.” Problem: Declining sage grouse numbers. Solution: Appoint Shawn Espinoza, who was hired as a game warden, to be the “sage grouse specialist.”

In addition to those two appointments, he hired a person who trained in Africa as his chief of big game. That appointment also didn’t work out for our mule deer. Is it any wonder why Nevada deer hunters are in this predicament? Rest assured, without a doubt, under Ken Mayer’s leadership, it will never get any better.

In closing, Ken Mayer should not be fired. He just should never have been rehired.

———————

Cecil Fredi is president of Hunter’s Alert and has lived in Las Vegas for 70 years.

Published in Online Articles
Thursday, 23 August 2012 07:19

Commentary: Ravens, road kill and reality.

Reprinted from the Elko Daily Free Press

By:  Pat Laughlin - 

I recently attended the Elko County Commission meeting and sat in on the discussion concerning predator control to protect sage grouse. I was also interviewed by the Elko Free Press concerning raven control for sage grouse. I need to set the record straight on a couple of issues.

First, it’s important to understand the players in this game being acted out here in Nevada. The raven is a migratory bird protected by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). Second, the same FWS is also responsible for enforcing the Endangered Species Act. The very same people protecting the raven are going to decide our fate here in Elko County on whether the sage grouse is listed as an endangered species. The same people …

So, you’re not convinced the FWS is protecting ravens? Putting ravens above the well-being of our economy, your family and mine? Just read the “6 point raven plan” put forth by the FWS. Number 2 states, and I quote, “control access by ravens to road kill and ranch carcasses.” Number 5 states, “ensure adequate herbaceous ground cover in nesting habitat.” I will spare you all six points of the raven plan but all six will need to be implemented before the FWS will support killing more ravens to protect our way of life here in Elko County. When I read this at the Commission meeting I nearly fell out of my chair.

My first thought was how will we ever accomplish this? Drive every road in Nevada … every morning picking up every dead rabbit.

Here’s an example of how NDOW showed me last weekend that they support this road kill program. I noticed a dead doe at the corner of Silver Street and Errecart Boulevard last Friday. Saturday when it was still there, I called the sheriff’s office as well as NDOW’s hotline number to report it. NDOW put the blame on NDOT and said that they would contact them to have it removed. Two days later, I witnessed a City of Elko crew picking up the doe, not NDOW or NDOT. You can’t tell me that numerous NDOW and NDOT employees didn’t drive by that doe in a three-day period of time on one of the busiest streets in Elko.

Then it hit me. This 6 point raven plan is nonsense … complete and utter nonsense written in a way to make sure it can never be accomplished and to make sure the FWS will never need to support killing more ravens in Nevada. The FWS does not want to kill predators … for any reason … no matter what … period.

And I have to add, where is NDOW Director Ken Mayer in all of this? I’ve heard the listing of the sage grouse would be like the spotted owl times 100. The listing could devastate mining, ranching and everything we like to do outdoors. Director Mayer represents Nevada. He should be looking out for us. Our economy, our families, our wildlife. Instead our California transplant director supports the FWS, the BLM and the FS at every turn and serves up the “6 point raven plan” as gospel to the Elko County Commission.

When was the last time you ever heard Ken Mayer take a stand for Nevada? For Elko County? He scheduled a meeting with the Elko County Commissioners several weeks in advance and cancelled the night before without offering to reschedule. Do you think he cares about Elko County?

Governor Sandoval should be embarrassed that he re-appointed Ken Mayer after Governor Gibbons fired the man over these same issues. Maybe Governor Sandoval doesn’t care about our economy, our families or our wildlife either. He had better rethink his position and his appointees if he expects Elko County to help re-elect him.

Published in Online Articles
Sunday, 19 August 2012 17:52

Nevada Wildlife Officials Misdirect Funds

Reprinted from the Elko Daily Free Press

By Charlie Howell

COMMENTARY: As a former wildlife commissioner for the last three years, I feel I have firsthand knowledge about wildlife issues in Nevada. The article by Pete Mori in your newspaper on July 14 titled “Set the wildlife record straight” must have been written by NDOW director Ken Mayer because there were quite a few inaccuracies in the article. I will straighten them out.

Heritage money, that being money derived from auction tags and donations, can only be spent on projects approved by the Wildlife Commission. Since the inception of Heritage money, the majority of the funds were spent on bighorn sheep projects. In essence, this money should have been spent on two species that were declining, namely mule deer and sage grouse, rather than bighorn sheep, whose numbers were increasing. Never was a dollar spent for predator control. This changed with Governor Gibbons’ appointments to the Wildlife Commission.

Governor Gibbons’ appointments to the Wildlife Commission approved projects that included predator control to enhance mule deer and sage grouse. I was proud to have served on the committee that approver those projects. Some of Pat Laughlin’s projects were for the removal of ravens to enhance sage grouse. Director Ken Mayer fought against all of these approved predator control projects for over two years. Had director Ken Mayer approved these projects, an extension would not have been needed.

Everyone involved (who will tell the truth) with these projects knows it was Ken Mayer who was responsible for this denial. Director Mayer blatantly ignored Governor Gibbon’s order to cooperate with the Commission and carry out the Commission’s policies according to statute. Pete Mori was not on the Commission during this time frame and probably wasn’t aware of the conflict between the commission and Director Mayer.

Another area where Pete Mori was wrong was about the number of ravens that could be removed. The Las Vegas Dump located in Apex had an estimated 4,000 ravens. Wildlife Services removed 3,000 of them. They were able to do this because the proper authorities honored this request. Ken Mayer did not do this for raven control in Elko County! All of Sandoval’s appointments to the Wildlife Commission, led by Chairman Mike McBeath, voted to deny the extension. Ken Mayer and the Wildlife Commission do not believe in predator control. Their votes, in denying the money for raven control, proves this point.

In 2001, the Legislature passed a law granting money to be used for predator control. The original intent was that it was to be used for mule deer. However, it did not say that specifically in the bill. There are many areas where deer numbers have increased because this money was used for the removal of lions and coyotes. It appears that Mr. Mori is pleased that the predator money which has been used for deer will now be switched to sage grouse. This shows that Mr. Mori could care less about bringing back our deer.

When the sage grouse is listed, let’s put the blame squarely on the people who failed to act. They are Ken Mayer and Governor Sandoval’s appointments to the Wildlife Commission. They were in a position of authority to do something and they didn’t. They are more concerned about spending resources on bighorn sheep. I’m sure they will have a bogus excuse for their failures.

I sent a letter to Governor Sandoval stating that I did not wish to be re-appointed to the Wildlife Commission. I believe that as long as Ken Mayer is the director and Governor Sandoval’s appointments do not have the fortitude to stand up against Ken Mayer, sportsmen and wildlife will suffer in our state. Sandoval’s wildlife commissioners have already shown they will rubber stamp anything NDOW wants. I feel confident that someday I will be able to tell Governor Sandoval “I told you so.”

In closing, Pete Mori may not have liked the article written by Cecil Fredi, but he tells the truth, unlike some NDOW employees.

———————

Charlie Howell is a former wildlife commissioner who has been hunting and fishing in Nevada for more than 65 years.

Published in Online Articles
Sunday, 19 August 2012 17:49

NDOW - It's About the Money

Reprinted from the Elko Daily Free Press -

By Dr. Gerald Lent - 

Editor: I have been involved with Nevada wildlife issues for over forty years. I understand what is really going on with Director Mayer and NDOW and the people of Nevada need to understand this also.

This is what I think NDOW is trying to do: Director Mayer is supporting the listing (BEHIND CLOSED DOORS) of the sage grouse issue. It’s all about money! If listed, the Feds will say what can we do to make it better and will then dump lots of dollars at NDOW (that’s what the government does) for Mayer to waste on his administration, not wildlife!

His tactic has been to kill more mule deer to decline the deer herds. This holds true for the sage grouse decline so he can get more federal dollars and can blame habitat to get more funds. NDOW’s intent is to accelerate the decline of the numbers of mule deer by giving out many more tags!

It is not habitat if only ONE species declines and Mayer needs a deer decline to have another species going down to prove the habitat excuse. Mule deer become an additional support for him to blame habitat, as Mayer has been doing for years.

NDOW believes they are serving the best interest of wildlife by getting sage grouse listed as this is the only way they will get money and get cattle and mining off the ranges so sheep can be planted.

Ken Mayer has rolled over to a non-government sheep organization (NGO). For years they have made huge donations to NDOW so basically they own Nevada Department of Wildlife. Director Mayer is saying they don’t want sage grouse listed only to get mining and agriculture off his back.

NDOW doesn’t want to believe predators are responsible for the decline of deer and sage grouse so they can say ONLY habitat is the problem!

I hope everybody really can see this because it is a pattern that Ken Mayer and NDOW have been following for years and is in Director Mayer’s best interest to get the bird listed.

Dr. Gerald Lent

Former Wildlife Commission chairman

Published in Online Articles
Sunday, 19 August 2012 17:44

Elko County Wildlife Board Got it Right

Reprinted from the Elko Daily Free Press

By Charlie Myers - 

I attended several hours of the Nevada Commission on Wildlife’s board meeting held in Elko recently. Two items of concern to me were the sage grouse hunting season and predator control.

The hunting season for sage grouse came up on the agenda; each County Advisory Board (CAB) made their recommendation to the Wildlife Commission. The Elko CAB recommended a one-week reduction in sage grouse hunting. Several other rural CABs made the same recommendation.

There was a brief discussion by the board and an NDOW biologist, Mr. Espinoza. His comments to the board did not agree with the CABs as he felt the “wing” program had too many advantages to reduce the week the CABs were requesting.

The board vote 6 to 3 to not reduce the sage grouse hunting season. So, I want to get this all straight. Not all hunters put their “wings” in the barrels, which makes the data skewed to start with, interesting. Then take into account that our Wildlife Commission wouldn’t reduce by one week the hunting season on a bird that very well could get listed under the Endangered Species Act. The bird that is being managed under the BLM Interim Management Policy — a policy which is probably stricter than being listed as an Endangered Species. The bird that has already caused the loss of the China Wind Project and several million dollars in tax revenue to Elko County.

But we are going to continue to hunt this bird. The bird that caused the loss of 60,000 acres in oil and gas leases and the loss of that revenue to Elko County. A bird because of its habitat caused another 100,000 acres in possible leases to not even be considered, worth another $2.7 million. Yet we continue to hunt a bird that could negatively impact 11 states, Elko County and every resident and rancher in our area.

Our CAB got it right, reduce the hunting season. The sage grouse is already negatively impacting our county; where’s the logic in not supporting our CABs recommendation?

It was mentioned that less than 10 percent get taken during hunting season. To me, if we took our CAB’s recommendation that could be up to 10 percent more sage grouse we wouldn’t have to worry about impacting the numbers for listing. The numbers may be small but we need to do everything possible to keep this bird from listing.

Predator control of ravens needs to be a priority as we deal with sage grouse. I came to the realization during the Wildlife Commission meeting that NDOW would get exactly what they wanted, as there were several 6 to 3 votes that day, regardless of the negative impacts to our state and county. In my opinion many on that board that day did not support their counties or hunters.

If the sage grouse gets listed the impact to Elko County will be like nothing we’ve ever experienced before. Many outdoor activities that many people enjoy will be limited or gone, family ranches will be impacted and economic development will most certainly take a huge hit as well. But, let’s keep hunting them just because ...

———————

Charlie Myers is an Elko County Commissioner.

Published in Online Articles
Sunday, 19 August 2012 17:38

Songbirds, Sage Hen and Shame

Reprinted from the Elko Daily Free Press
In times past I awoke to songbirds and doves. Now it is to the cawing of ravens.

At their June 22 and 23 meeting, Nevada Board of Wildlife Commissioners voted to eliminate funding predator control programs intended to protect sage grouse. They did fund research into Pine Nut Mountains vegetation and sage grouse. Apparently helpful, and conveniently near agency central offices.

Over the last four decades, the Nevada Department of Wildlife has de-emphasized predator control. Raven takings have ranged between zero and 1,500 while the population has increased 600 percent.

The statewide raven population may exceed 952,000 at an average density of 8.7 per square mile. Thus, at its most intense effort, the agency takes less than two tenths of a percent of the predators which may outnumber the sage grouse nearly eleven to one. Meanwhile, agency personnel threaten county officials that they would list sage grouse as endangered because it needs agency protection.

Studies of sage grouse nest failure indicate that in areas of greater than 2.4 ravens per square mile only 50 percent of nests will survive. At 5.8, virtually all nests fail.

The agencies insist that removing territorial ravens simply provides the opportunity for transitory ravens to move in at twice the density. But territorials hunt at triple the efficiency of transitories, so the net depredation efficiency becomes two thirds. A 50 percent depredation may drop to 33, meaning the survival rate rises from 50 to 67 percent.

The scientific method, common sense, and common decency all cry for aggressive predator control on behalf of sage grouse. But these three concepts apparently are not in the lexicon of the Board, NDOW, nor other agencies and groups presuming to act on behalf of the bird. This despite historical records indicating the highest confirmed sage grouse populations were during the decades of extensive sheep and cattle grazing and aggressive predator control. Also, much lower wildfire incidence and intensity occurred during those years. Tellingly, agencies are reticent to discuss wildlife loss from firestorms on undergrazed range.

The bureau-scientific complex has substituted political science for the natural sciences. That does provide a certain efficiency in that all conclusions become uniform and rote. It has instituted a troika system whereby stakeholders outside the complex have no recourse beyond the agency troika which juries, judges, and executes all verdicts.

Agency officials declare sage grouse population counts don’t matter, only habitat control matters. What they really are saying is they do not care that private sector grazing practices and private sector predator control may increase the bird’s population by one-third or more. The agencies want the budgets which will come with increased control; they do not want ranchers and farmers doing well without bureaucrats.

Ravens prey on much more than sage grouse. Among the songbirds formerly serenading the neighborhood were Mountain Bluebirds. Since they sanction the raven’s status by accepting its predation, will the Wildlife Board now move to adopt the raven as the state bird?

Practicing political science does not require shame … .

———————

Ralph R. Sacrison is a senior mining engineer based in Elko.

Published in Online Articles
Reprinted from the Elko Daily Free Press

By Pat Laughlin - Nevada Alliance 4 Wildlife - 

I am writing this in response to “Contentious Deer” and “Majority of Wildlife Board Resigns” articles printed in the EDFP between May 12-15.

Elko County Commissioner Charlie Myers was correct in stating that the NRS 501.297 states, “The boards shall solicit and evaluate local opinion and advise the Commission on matters relating to the management of wildlife within their respective counties.”

I was at the Elko County Wildlife Advisory Board meeting where one of the main discussions was the increase in mule deer tags. What I saw was a room full of lifetime Elko County sportsmen, ranchers, outfitters and dignitaries asking to see the science behind these proposed quota increase numbers. Elko CAB members Matt Murray and Tom Barnes voted against the increase and I commend them for “evaluating local opinion.” Lincoln, White Pine and Eureka County Wildlife Advisory boards listened to the public comments and all voted against the increase in deer tags quotas for their respective counties.

NDOW data shows Area 10 deer estimates were down 1,500 animals in 2012 from 2011 but they proposed doubling the tags for that area. NDOW stated that the increase in buck numbers limits fawn recruitment via competition for limited winter range in some areas. My question is which specific areas and where is the study of this occurrence in each specific area? There is none!

A previous Area 10 doe hunt was implemented in 2009. NDOW mule deer expert Tony Wasley stated by examining a large sample of the harvested does, it should show that these deer are habitat restricted according to body composition and age structure. Current Area 10 biologist Caleb McAdoo stated we have too many old does with no fawns out there. To this day, we are still waiting for a summary of the study of the last Area 10 doe hunt.

Based on what charts we did receive from NDOW, we know that the average age of does harvested in the Area 10 2009 doe hunt was 3.4 years old; this contradicts what NDOW believes, that we have too many old does. There were several old does in the 10- to 11-year-old range that had fawns or signs of milk or nursing. How can a doe this old, that’s living in a habitat restricted herd, have a fawn? How can they still be alive? These points have been brought up numerous times with no response from NDOW.

Let’s look at Area 6. According to NDOW, the deer herd increased 2,100 animals from 2011-2012. This is in an area that NDOW has repeatedly stated can’t support one more deer on the winter range because of the past fires. These fires have also destroyed intermediate migration corridors between summer and winter ranges. If there is no habitat, how can the deer herd increase?

So here we are year after year listening to NDOW talk about how the entire state of Nevada is habitat-restricted and can’t support any more deer. There are many mountain ranges large and small in the state that have historically had mule deer on them that haven’t been burnt by fires and livestock grazing has been reduced dramatically and you won’t find a single deer.

We agree with NDOW statements about the perfect storm situation with three wet springs followed by an open winter helping the deer herds. These wet springs help all wildlife in a desert but what they don’t mention is the past State Wildlife Commission eliminated all doe hunts and cut buck tags 25 percent across the state to help give the deer a little boost. This no doubt helped with the increase in deer. That State Wildlife Commission has now been replaced with new members appointed by Governor Sandoval that seem to care only about sheep and not deer.

Here is a little science that we do know. NDOW survey flights, according to their own model, are subject to plus or minus 20 percent. This is a 40 percent margin of error. NDOW has stated a 3 percent statewide herd increase and they are doubling the mule deer tags statewide. Where is the science to justify that increase?

At the end of the day one thing is evident, if you dig deep enough, and that is revenue. You won’t find this information on the NDOW website but, it’s a breakdown of how much money the increase of deer tags will generate for NDOW including the 3-to-1 federal matching funds.

Each resident tag generates approximately $135, excluding license fee, and $3 predator fee. Each non-resident tag produces $981.50, not including license fee, and $3 predator fee. Guided tags $1,221.50 with the same exclusions. Here are some figures for the increase in tag quotas:

Additional resident tag revenue: $1,713,825

Additional non-resident tag and guided tag revenue $1,133,055

Doe hunts: $179,280

For a total of: $3,026,160

I wonder how much of this $3 million increase will be spent on helping the mule deer or will it be used for more sheep transplants, sheep relocations and sheep guzzler projects?

The 2012 Tag Draw was conducted Wednesday, May 23, and of the 923 available doe tags in Area 10, NDOW only received 143 applications. This tells me that the sportsmen of Nevada do not want doe hunts and do not want to harvest does.

I think it is clear that the increase in tag quotas and doe hunts are all about revenue and not about what the citizens of Northern Nevada want.

———————

Pat Laughlin is president of Nevada Alliance 4 Wildlife and was a member of Gov. Jim Gibbons Mule Deer Restoration Committee.

 

Published in Online Articles
Saturday, 18 August 2012 17:10

Killing Ravens to Save Sage Grouse

Reprinted from the Elko Daily Free Press -

ELKO — To save one bird, we might have to weed out another, according to many in Elko County.

Pat Laughlin, president of Nevada Alliance 4 Wildlife, a nonprofit group whose main focus is predator control, said the greatest threat to sage grouse is the raven.

He’s read studies, he said, that cite raven predation as high as 90 percent for why sage grouse nests fail. The sage grouse is under threat of being added to the endangered species list.

Around 2009, Laughlin’s group began applying for heritage fund grants through the Nevada Wildlife Commission to be spent on programs weeding out ravens and coyotes. Though it took some give-and-take negotiations, eventually funds were secured.

“I finally had to make a deal with (the Nevada Department of Wildlife) ... that they were going to have total control of the projects. Where the money was spent, where the work was done,” Laughlin said.

In addition to ceding control, Laughlin said, NDOW also pulled $5,000 per year for raven control and $10,000 per year for coyote control from the funds for the purpose of studying the animals.

“They were supposed to be monitoring and keeping track. To this day I haven’t heard anything,” Laughlin said.

Despite that, Laughlin’s group continued the projects until last month when suddenly the money was pulled.

“Their biggest reason was we weren’t getting the money on the ground fast enough and we weren’t getting the work done,” Laughlin said. “They thought we were doing an injustice to the sportsmen of Nevada.”

Laughlin had no reservation saying he believed NDOW’s reasons to be lies. But, according to NDOW Director Ken Mayer, the money was better spent elsewhere.

The U.S. has a treaty with Canada and Mexico which puts restrictions on the number of migratory birds killed — ravens included. NDOW requested an increase in raven permits, and in 2011, Fish and Wildlife authorized 4,265 ravens to be killed for the year. Only 3,062 ravens were killed, though, according to a June NDOW common raven kill project summary report.

“Therefore, Permit Authorization by USFWS does not appear to be a limiting factor for killing ravens in Nevada. Rather, unused permit authorization seems to be the result of limitations on permitees’ capacity to carry out the work,” the report states.

Even so, Mayer said he still hears requests for killing more ravens, some even asking to double the number.

“We are never going to get 10,000 birds,” Mayer said. “How do you kill that many?”

Laughlin said it could be done.

“You could take out as many birds out as you want,” he said. “He just has to request the work and it will get done.”

NDOW has a $400,000 pot of money allocated exclusively for predator control, generated from $3 of every hunting tag sold. To kill 2,000 ravens, Mayer said, it costs between $32,000 and $40,000.

NDOW has managed to spend the predator control money, but in Mayer’s estimation, more funds reserved to kill ravens isn’t necessary because of the cap.

“We’ve been spending that,” Mayer said. “I don’t know how much more I can spend.”

Over a three-year period, the Nevada Wildlife Commission authorized $382,000 of heritage program funds to be used for predator control, on top of what was available, Mayer said. The commission’s authorization was unnecessary, he said.

There is a chance the number of raven permits will increase, though.

At a recent Elko County Commission meeting, Jeff Williams summarized a letter submitted by Mayer which stated the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service would write a letter of support to increase the number of ravens allowed to be killed if a six-point raven control plan was implemented.

The plan calls for increased measures to control ravens’ access to garbage dumps, ranch carcasses, road kill and ground squirrel carcasses. The plan also addresses the need for better ground cover for grouse nests, and killing specific ravens, Williams said. Except, the plan doesn’t seem feasible to the commission.

“We have no control over a lot of that,” Williams said.

Regardless, the county commission has long said predator control is one of the most necessary steps to saving sage grouse. Mayer doesn’t entirely agree.

“They are the only ones I know of in the nation that are convinced of that,” he said.

When the Fish and Wildlife service prioritized threats to sage grouse, it listed predator control as number 12, Mayer said.

As Laughlin sees it, listing predation as the 12th priority is an oversight at best, and deliberate negligence at worst on the part of Fish and Wildlife.

Mayer was scheduled to attend last Thursday’s county commission meeting, but canceled the night before. When asked why, he said he was too busy.

 

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