Tuesday, 01 July 2008 00:00

Governor Jim Gibbons Keeps His Word

Unlike former Governor Kenny Guinn, Governor Jim Gibbons kept his word to Nevada’s deer hunters. Governor Gibbons’ appointments to the Wildlife Commission have been instructed to bring back our deer. A small group wanted to have their people reappointed to the Wildlife Commission. The governor must have realized that if they hadn’t done anything for our deer while they were serving  three years on the Wildlife Commission, then there was a strong indication that they had no intention to move forward on this very important task.  Leading is not about popularity.  Leading is doing what is best and that is what Governor Jim Gibbons did with his appointments to the Wildlife Commission. Here is a brief history of the people Gibbons has appointed to the Wildlife Commission.

 

Gerald Lent was appointed as a sportsmen’s representative from Washoe County. He has also served on the Washoe County Advisory Board. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in biology. No one has spent more of their own time and money for sportsmen in our state than Gerald Lent. He has been responsible for the passage of many bills that have benefitted every sportsman in the state.

 

Tom Cavin will represent the sportsmen from rural counties. He has Bachelor of Science degree in Wildlife Management and is a charter member of the Nevada Wildlife Record Book Committee.

 

Grant Wallace represents farming and lives in Esmeralda County. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Systems Management from Cal. Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo and is a member of the Esmeralda County Wildlife Advisory Board, as well as an avid hunter.

 

Mike McBeath was appointed as a sportsman representative from Clark County. He is currently a member of the Clark County Advisory Board to Manage Wildlife.

 

These new commissioners will bring with them fresh ideas which are long overdue. Jim Gibbons is to be commended for his new appointments.

Published in HA Newsletter 33
Tuesday, 01 July 2008 00:00

Editorial-2008

Good times are coming for the people who are concerned about the loss of our deer. The newly appointed Wildlife Commissioners have been told by Governor Jim Gibbons to bring back our deer. It won’t be easy nor will it be quick. Let’s review who was responsible for the loss of these deer and why it happened.

 

Published in HA Newsletter 33
Tuesday, 01 July 2008 00:00

Clint Bentley…Gone At Last!

Sold out the sportsmen right to the end

 

For the last six years, HUNTER’S ALERT has told you how bad Clint Bentley has been as a Wildlife commissioner. He should never have been appointed to the Commission. HUNTER’S ALERT isn’t going to waste any more ink and paper on his many past failures to represent sportsmen.

 

It should be noted on his way out that he needs credit for the following: as chairman of the Heritage Committee, he approved of giving a student funds to do a study in another state! Heritage Fund money is supposed to be used for Nevada projects. The state of California will now ‘benefit’ from the $30,000 Mr. Bentley pushed to be approved as part of the total $171,122 funding for a 10 year project to find out why there are almost no deer left in the California Mohave Desert. Our government removed the cattle ranchers from this area. They had previously been maintaining water sources, which of course dried up because ranchers weren’t around to maintain them. One might think that instead of spending the $30,000, Mr. Bentley might have realized that your average 4 year old could tell you that if cows can drink, so can deer. No ranchers = no water = no deer.

 

The next giveaway was even worse. He pushed the approval of giving $40,000 to start a 4 year mountain lion study. This was just the tip of the iceberg.  The proposed project is to pay a graduate student to get a doctorate by giving the student a total budget of $472,040 to complete the study, including paying a salary and “fringe benefits” of $87,600 to the student. This project will include genetic analysis of 700 lions in Nevada (these 700 lions alone will kill at least 36,000 deer in the state each year). Nice study, Mr. Bentley, unfortunately your subjects have just consumed most of our deer population. Your study may be a success, but the deer will be dead.  What (or who) will your lions eat then?

 

And finally, in his last meeting on June 28th, he voted to make the wolf a big game animal in Nevada. Great! That’s just what Nevada hunters need, more predators! The mountain lions have decimated our deer.  All we need is for wolves to start killing elk, livestock and the small number of deer we have left. Clint must be really popular with the Nevada ranchers.

 

It is quite apparent that Clint Bentley had not done any due diligence on any of these issues. Just on the wolf issue, he would have realized that the wolves have pounded the elk herds in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. It’s so bad in Wyoming that in 88 percent of the state, wolves are classified as predators like coyotes and can be killed without regard for fair chase rules, seasons or bag limits. Nevada should have followed Wyoming’s lead on this issue. But Clint’s answer to predator control was to build another water hole for the sheep. With that way of thinking, no one will miss Clint as a Wildlife commissioner. If it hadn’t been for former Commissioners Tommy Ford and John Moran who were responsible for getting Bentley on the Wildlife Commission, Clint wouldn’t have had the chance to sell out the sportsmen for the last 6 years.

Published in HA Newsletter 33

A rebuttal to Dave Rice’s article which appeared in the Reno Gazette Journal, January 25, 2008

 

I read with interest your article in the Reno Gazette Journal, January 25, 2008, concerning Nevada's declining deer population.

I do not know whom the NDOW expert, Biologist Mike Cox is, but he is a long way from knowing or telling the "real story" of what went on during the big deer years in Nevada. If he thinks that the main reason for the decline of Nevada deer herds is the overall condition of habitat, he either does not know what he is talking about or he is creating "smoke and mirrors” for NDOW.

I ran the operational Predatory Animal Control program throughout the State of Nevada for the U. S Fish & Wildlife Program, during the 1970s and 80s, as the Assistant State Supervisor.  I believe I have on-the-ground and in-the-air understanding of what went on during the big deer years in Nevada.  There were three full-time Government Mountain Lion Hunters employed year-around hunting lions.  Coyote and mountain lion numbers were kept under control.  Deer tags, for Nevada hunters, were unlimited in number and were available for over-the-counter purchase at hunting-license dealers statewide.

In 1972, a big change occurred in the Animal Damage Control business throughout the west.  President Richard Nixon banned the use of toxicants in the government control program by executive order.  (He was soliciting the environmental vote that was just starting to emerge.)   With the loss of toxicants and nothing to replace it with but a few trappers, coyote numbers began to rise dramatically. Throughout the state of Nevada, deer numbers fell to 96,000 by 1976. Predation upon livestock by predators was a serious problem. In the late 70s, political pressure by the livestock industry and their representatives in Washington, D.C. brought about a dramatic increase in the Federal budget for Animal Damage Control.

The federal government began to appropriate large sums of money in order to prove that coyote numbers could be controlled by what they liked to call "non-toxic methods.”  This program increased use of aircraft, both fixed -wing and rotor-wing, to shoot coyotes from the air and additional trappers on the ground to replace the controversial use of toxicants.  (This was meant to look good to the environmentalist.)

At that time, there was a large, domestic range-sheep industry, operating throughout the state of Nevada.  Domestic sheep acted as a "buffer species" to deer for predatory animals.  Predators, largely, lived on domestic sheep, which were much easier to kill than mule deer.  The Ruby Mountains, in Elko County for example, had over 50,000 domestic sheep that summered on this mountain range in the 1970s.

In the early1980s, wild-animal longhair fur prices went sky high and private trappers were out in force. There were large numbers of coyotes and bobcats harvested by private trappers since fur prices were at an all time high.  Gas was around $1.25 a gallon. Coyote varmint callers were out in force.  All of the private trapping and shooting plus the concentrated government effort to control predator numbers began to pay off.  By the year 1988, the mule deer population responded to these concentrated predator-control efforts and mule deer numbers statewide were quoted by NDOW at 240,000.  NDOW was busy patting themselves on the back for what a masterful deer management program they had in place throughout the state of Nevada.  They credited the quota system for deer tags, which was put in place in 1976, and favorable weather conditions, relatively mild winters during that period, for the large increase in deer numbers, but never once did they mention the dramatic decrease in predator population numbers brought about by private hunters and trappers and the federal government program.

Now then we move forward in time, the range sheep industry began to disappear due to labor problems, government regulations, land use changes by public land administrators, imports, etc. Therefore, control efforts in and around range sheep herds decreased.  Cattle numbers began to decline.  Longhair fur prices fell, gas prices went up, vehicle prices went up, predator hunting declined, and soon predator population numbers began to come back.  Today the Nevada landscape is filled up with coyotes, bobcats, and mountain lions with some prowling the alleys of towns and cities.  Predators have a "free-roll" statewide.

So what do you think has happened to our deer population?  It has steadily gone down-hill with the decrease in predator control efforts and will continue to do so unless there is a dramatic decrease in predatory animal population numbers. NDOW has blamed the mule deer decline on overgrazing by livestock, poor habitat, too many fires, too cold, too wet, too dry, not enough snow, too much snow, etc. They are in denial when it comes to the overall effect that predators have on our mule deer and upland game bird population numbers in the State of Nevada.

In 2007, NDOW reported, there were 114,000 mule deer in the State of Nevada. Looks to me like we are almost out of deer. I wonder, what are the coyote, bobcat, and mountain lion numbers statewide in 2008???

I would solicit your printing this in your column

Thank you,

James "Mike" Laughlin

Supervisory Wildlife Biologist (Retired)

Bachelor of Science Degree- Wildlife Biology- Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona

 

Ed. Note: Of course, the Reno Gazette-Journal did not print the rebuttal.

Published in HA Newsletter 33

Larry shoots best shot and misses

 

Larry Johnson did everything possible to keep “his boys” on the Wildlife Commission. It didn’t work. Governor Gibbons wanted people on the Wildlife Commission who want to bring back those once famous Nevada mule deer herds. “Larry’s boys” were more concerned about the 150 people hunting sheep than the 51,011 who used to hunt deer.  Larry went so far as to send the following notice to all the county advisory game boards and sportsmen’s groups.

 

Published in HA Newsletter 33

Reprinted from: Opinion column, The Nevada Rancher, June, 2008, Winnemucca, Nevada

 

The question is:

“Should Governor Jim Gibbons reappoint the current Wildlife Commissioners, who were selected by fomer Goveror Guinn, or should he appoint his own people?”

My answer is:

Governor Gibbons can appoint anyone he wishes to the Game Commission. This is his call, and his alone. Who should he appoint? Whomever he finds to be the best candidate for the job. If he needs help finding names, I am sure he will ask for it.

Our governor does not need to take into account everything everyone in the world tells him before selecting his appointees. That is not the way it works here in America. Our governor is a highly intelligent, experienced and competent man who knows the issues and knows how to get things done. We have lost our Mule Deer herd under the current Game Commission and NDOW leadership. It is time for change if we are ever going to bring back our Mule Deer and Governor Jim Gibbons is the man who can make this happen. What we should do to assist our Governor in making his decision on appointees is to support his appointments and not second-guess him.

Sincerely,

Mike Laughlin

(Retired) Professional Wildlife Biologist, Bachelor of Science, Wildlife Management Degree, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ. Longtime Nevada resident, rancher and sportsman

Published in HA Newsletter 33

Out with the old, in with the new was in order for the Wildlife Commission appointments.  The last of former Governor Kenny Guinn’s appointments to the Wildlife Commission have finally run their course. For Nevada deer hunters, that’s a good thing. Former commissioners David McNinch, Dan Swanson and Ron  Lurie did nothing to bring back our deer.  Quite the contrary. Most predator control projects to benefit deer were opposed by them.

Published in HA Newsletter 34

NDOW director Ken Mayer has held the post for almost three years. During these two plus years, he has done nothing to bring back our deer. Quite the contrary, in the last two legislative sessions, there were bills proposed to enhance our mule deer. He opposed both of them.

 

Recently, a bolt of lightning must have struck the director. On July 8, chief of big game, Mark Atkinson announced that Tony Wasley had accepted the new position of Mule Deer Wildlife Staff Specialist. This is the same Tony Wasley, Elko based biologist, who recommended killing 987 does this year. But it gets better with this mule deer specialist. A 2004 press release by Kelly Clark on NDOW’s website quotes some of Wasley’s mule deer studies and comes up with this conclusion: “Most hunters ask what we can do to achieve higher numbers of deer. Pray for good summer rain. Nevada is the driest state in the Union and water is key in wildlife management. Without rain and snow to keep creeks running, springs fresh, grasses, forbs and brush tender and green for food and cover, deer numbers dwindle.”

Published in HA Newsletter 34

Reprinted from Reno Gazette Journal,

June 24, 2009

At the May meeting to set tag quotas, the Nevada Board of Wildlife Commissioners voted 7-1 to support the recommendations of Elko-based Nevada Department of Wildlife biologist, Tony Wasley to issue 987 doe mule deer tags in areas 101, 102 and 104A, which encompass all of the Ruby Mountains north of Harrison Pass.

Published in HA Newsletter 34
Monday, 01 June 2009 00:00

More Predator News

Steve Smith, a rancher and lion hunter in Arizona, wrote an article that originally appeared in Western Hunting Magazine and was reprinted in Deer Times-Fall, 2007 magazine. The title was Out of Balance: One Expert’s Commentary on Mountain Lions, Mule Deer and Wildlife Mismanagement.

 

The author made many valid points and HUNTER’ S ALERT would like to compare his views with those of HUNTER’S ALERT.

Published in HA Newsletter 34
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