Sunday, 19 August 2012 16:56

Disagree with Armchair Biologists

Reprinted from the Elko Daily Free Press -

To the Editor:

Good news for Elko county sportsmen: Wellington resigns.

The article that appeared in Tuesday’s Elko Daily Free Press by Ken Wellington must have been written by Nevada Department of Wildlife. I say this because NDOW’s so-called science is bogus as is most of the article. NDOW doubled the number of deer tags from last year with only a 2 percent increase in deer population. That is bogus science.

As a county advisory board to manage wildlife member, Mr. Wellington has been gullible enough to accept NDOW’s science without question for years. He would believe NDOW’s armchair biologists over people like Cliff Gardner and John Carpenter, who witnessed the Rubies’ deer migrations numbering in the thousands in the 1950s and 1960s.

He bought into NDOW’s habitat excuse. Did he ever ask NDOW the following questions: Who will do the habitat restoration? How much will it cost? How long will it take to restore Nevada’s habitat? Probably not as apparently Wellington never questioned NDOW.

I can answer the question as to how long it will take. NDOW’s biologists will use the everlasting habitat excuse until their 30-year state pensions kick in.

The true sportsmen of Elko County will never miss Mr. Wellington but NDOW Director Ken Mayer sure will.

Cecil Fredi

(Fredi is president of HUNTER’S ALERT and has lived in Las Vegas for 70 years.)


Published in Online Articles
Sunday, 19 August 2012 16:33

Nevada’s Deer Will Never Recover

By Cecil Fredi

Reprinted from The Nevada Rancher, April 2012 -

The definition of fraud is to misrepresent the truth to take money away from a person or persons. It appears this is exactly what Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) has been doing for decades to Nevada deer hunters. Using NDOW’s statistics, in 1988 there were 250,000 deer in our state. Today their estimates are 105,000. Knowledgeable people believe that the real number is much lower. The reason for NDOW’s allegedly inflated numbers is that they can sell more deer tags thus creating more revenue for the agency.

Currently, a reputable outside independent agency with two PH.D’s on staff is doing a study on the decline of deer numbers in Nevada.  This project has had many setbacks. NDOW refused to provide them with the deer data. It took the Wildlife Commission (Jim Gibbons’ good appointees) using freedom of information act requests on two separate occasions to obtain the needed information. Why was this necessary? What are they hiding?  NDOW director Ken Mayer did everything possible to insure the independent firm did not receive the information for them to do their study.  Because of NDOW’s stonewalling, the project has been set back over a year.

When the initial findings are released, a peer review should be initiated. The collected data should be sent to many specialists for their findings, akin to a doctor’s second or third opinion. Rest assured that Ken Mayer will fight all of this. What is NDOW afraid of?  If they were doing their jobs and not cooking the books on deer numbers, they should have nothing to hide. In fact, they should welcome this review to put all of this speculation to rest. But they won’t.

At a Wildlife Commission meeting, Paul Dixon, Chairman of Clark County Advisory Board to Manage Wildlife threatened to sue this contractor if there was anything negative stated about NDOW’s science. Apparently, Mr. Dixon doesn’t care about the truth. NDOW’s science can’t be too good when they admitted that they use some of Utah’s data for determining the number of deer tags in our state.  How is that for bogus science?

For over two decades, NDOW has used 15 different excuses for Nevada’s mule deer decline.  For the past few years, NDOW has used the habitat excuse. This is an excuse that they can use for several more decades till their retirements kick in. It’s hard to blame habitat when elk and deer occupy the same areas.  Elk numbers have increased dramatically over the past two decades while deer numbers have drastically declined. The reason for this decline is that the main source of food for the mountain lion is the mule deer.

Most biologists believe (but not NDOW’s) that a lion will eat a deer a week. However, NDOW refuses to acknowledge that we have a predator problem. It took two sportsmen’s organizations, Hunters Alert and Nevada Hunters Association to get a bill passed in 2001 in order to fund predator control which is done by Wildlife Services. NDOW is not going to and never has done any predator control work.   How bad is the lion problem in our state? In Hunt Unit 014, which is one of the smallest units in the state, Wildlife Services removed 40 mountain lions in three years. This means 480 deer or bighorn sheep are still alive because of this lion removal.

I’m not the only one who believes fish and game agencies have corrupted themselves. Guy Eastman, famous outdoor writer and photographer, recently wrote an article called Predator Death Spiral. He named the article to explain what happens when “a wildlife agency attempts to hide or “pad” their big game population estimates when over predation begins to take hold”.  I would urge everyone concerned with wildlife to read this very explosive and truthful article. Look for him at www.eastmans.com/guy/2011/11/the-predator-death-spiral/.

Let’s prove why NDOW director Ken Mayer and Governor Sandoval’s appointments to the Wildlife Commission led by Chairman Mike McBeath will not do anything about not only deer but all big game in our state. In August, 2008 the wolf was declared a big game animal in the state. This was done by Governor Kenny Guinn’s appointees led by Wildlife Commission chairman Clint Bentley and NDOW director Ken Mayer. The re-introduction of wolves in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, has decimated their big game herds.  One area in Idaho has lost 90% of its elk because of wolves. . With leadership like this, not only will the deer never return, but like other states, all big game will be decimated. When this occurs, be sure to thank Clint Bentley, Ken Mayer, Mike McBeath and the rest of Governor Sandoval’s appointees to the commission.

Jim Gibbons’ good Wildlife commissioners (6 of 9) instructed Ken Mayer that if there was never any evidence of wolf packs in Nevada, the wolf was to be deleted from the big game animal classification. Ken Mayer refused to do this. A the December 3, 2011 Wildlife Commission meeting led by Chairman Mike McBeath, the Commission voted to keep the wolf as a big game animal. Currently, the wolf is a federally protected species. However, at some point, the control of wolves will be the right of each state.  If proven that there were no wolves in Nevada, it could then be classified as an unprotected predator.

In 1929, the black bear in Nevada was classified as a big game animal. It was not until 2011, 82 years later, that a season and quota was set. All of this, of course, was under the objection of director Ken Mayer. Judging from this past history, there would never be a season set on wolves until all species of big game were depleted in Nevada.

Wildlife Commissioner Scott Raine worked long and hard on a new Mule Deer Management Guidelines (Policy 28).  It was a 13 point program necessary to preserve, protect, manage, and restore wildlife and its habitat. The committee was composed of people like Cliff Gardner and John Carpenter who had witnessed the Ruby Valley deer migration which numbered in the thousands in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Today the migrations are all but gone because there are no deer. At the December 2011 meeting led by Chairman Mike McBeath and director Ken Mayer, the complete policy was deleted.  So much for deer restoration in our state.

Heritage Funds are generated from the auction of big game tags. This amounts to about $400,000 a year. This money is to be used for enhancement of game birds, game animals and game fish. One provision of this statute is that the money can be used “for the management and control of predatory wildlife in this state”.  The Wildlife commissioners, not NDOW, select the projects to be funded. For years, NDOW’s top request, i.e. spending the most money, was for transplanting bighorn sheep. NDOW believes it is more important to focus on the 280 people who hunt sheep than on the 51,011 hunters who used to hunt deer. The use of Heritage funds for predator control work was never considered until  Jim Gibbons appointed commissioners who recognized its importance in saving the deer herds as well as other species.

These Wildlife commissioners approved three predator control projects. One project was submitted by HUNTER’S ALERT for mule deer restoration.  Pat Laughlin of Nevada  Alliance 4 Wildlife submitted a proposal for mule deer enhancement and sage grouse recovery. Mike Stremler, a rancher and lion hunter submitted a proposal for deer enhancement by removing lions in a particular area.  The only way NDOW would approve Stremler’s proposal was if it was done as a research project.  During Stremler’s initial presentation, Director Ken Mayer stated that his biologists told him there were no lions in the Stillwater Mountain area.  Stremler took one lion and reported that there were six others.  Stremler’s total in a little over a one year period was the removal of eleven lions and there are at least three more in that area. All of this in a 12 mile radius!

In the course of one week, 139 coyotes were removed in Unit 031 on the HUNTER’S ALERT project with this money. Pat Laughlin’s project was responsible for removing 239 coyotes in less than three days in Elko County. All the coyotes removed were in wintering deer areas and many were shot off a freshly killed deer.  Director Ken Mayer fought against all of these proposals. Does this sound like someone who wants to enhance game birds and animals? These initial predator control programs with Heritage Fund money were extremely effective. However, with Governor Sandoval’s Wildlife commissioners, this money will never again be used for predator control.

When former Governor Jim Gibbons hired Ken Mayer, he instructed the new director to implement one of his major objectives, to bring back our mule deer. After doing nothing for four years about this serious problem, Gibbons fired him.  Mayer obviously had no intention of doing anything about the mule deer problem. For decades, NDOW has been a bighorn sheep oriented agency. With the reappointment of Ken Mayer and the newly appointed commissioners by Governor Sandoval, it will return to a sheep only wildlife agency. Deer enhancement will never be considered.

In summary, there are three reasons why our deer will never return.  1. Director Ken Mayer has no interest in doing anything about the mule deer. This has been proven by his first four years of doing nothing. 2. It will take some serious predator control to reduce lions and coyotes. This is not going to happen with Governor Sandoval’s Wildlife Commission appointees and Ken Mayer’s past performance on predator control. 3. NDOW has over-inflated deer numbers so badly that the deer have no chance of recovery.

If there is a peer review and the results prove that NDOW has inflated deer numbers, then heads should start to roll. Start at the top with Director Ken Mayer and go right on down to all of the biologists who have been providing the bogus information for decades. Fraud is a serious charge. When it is a multi-million dollar fraud, it deserves serious attention.  But when it goes on for decades it is shameful and inexcusable. Someone needs to be held accountable. At the February 2007 Wildlife Commission meeting, I was there to testify about another audit that NDOW had failed. Then Chairman Chris McKenzie asked me what I wanted. I answered that I wanted two things. Keep the corruption out of NDOW and bring back our deer. Five years later, NDOW has proven they can’t do either.

Cecil Fredi is president of HUNTER’S ALERT and has lived in Las Vegas for 69 years.

Published in Online Articles

Reprinted from the Las Vegas Review Journal - 

To the editor:

Your April 13 editorial, "A 'stupid bird'?," did not state directly who or what was responsible for the decline of the sage grouse. I will do that.

From July 1989 to June 1991, the Nevada Department of Wildlife conducted a survey of sage grouse production and mortality. Fourteen hundred eggs were placed in 200 simulated sage grouse nests, with seven eggs per nest. This was during the 15-day period when sage hens lay their eggs.

At the completion of the 15 days, all 1,400 eggs were destroyed at both study areas. Ravens were believed to be the chief nest predator.

During the 1991 legislative session, a bill was introduced to do raven control with aircraft. State wildlife officials did not show up to testify about their own survey.

Department of Wildlife officials knew this was a problem more than two decades ago and have done nothing on their own to correct this situation. Quite the contrary, they have fought against raven control. A sportsmen's group, Nevada Alliance 4 Wildlife, asked for and received $100,000 of Heritage Fund money for raven control. Department of Wildlife Director Ken Mayer fought against this proposal all the way. Does this sound like a director who wants to do something abut this serious problem?

Mr. Mayer was fired by then-Gov. Jim Gibbons for not doing anything about the declining deer numbers. By fighting the sage grouse proposals, Mr. Mayer and his predecessors have shown a lack of interest in solving the sage grouse problem, leaving the state facing serious repercussions if this bird is listed as threatened or endangered.

Cecil Fredi

Las Vegas

From the editor:  The writer is president of Hunter's Alert!

 

Published in Online Articles
Tuesday, 17 May 2011 13:31

NBU Distorts Truth

The below quasi-factual e-mail has been circulating on the NBU website:

Yesterday the Nevada Wildlife Commission, under the leadership of Chairman Raine and Vice Chairman Lent, decided to reduce Mule Deer quotas in Hunts 1331, 1341 and 1371 by 25%, except in areas 04,05, 15,18 and 23 where the quotas will be reduced by10% below NDOW 2011 recommendations. This extreme action was done despite protests from NDOW staff, the County Advisory Boards, and the public. Commissioners McBeath, Cavin and Wallace fought for 4 hours with arguments including the fact that the Commission was violating it’s [sic] own policies, and with seven amendments, but in the end did not have sufficient support from the balance of the Commission to prevent the action. Just prior to the vote, Deputy Director Cates, at the request of Commissioner McBeath, estimated the loss in revenue to be about $600,000.

 

Here is the truth that NBU failed to print:

 

NBU should really check their facts before sending these posts out. Raine voted with McBeath on the final vote. The motion that passed was as amended by a motion vote made by Wallace. Wallace and Cavin voted on opposite sides of the final vote. Raine and Lent voted on opposite sides of the final vote. The Commission did not violate any policy, and cited a wide variety of scientific evidence including hundreds of graphs, charts, scientific documents with conflicting conclusions, and WAFWA publications that forced it to take the action it did to help preserve healthy deer herds in Nevada. True, the issue of funding was brought up by McBeath, and that did bring up speculation by a few Commissioners that some opposition against the cuts could be based on selling out long term deer herd health for short term cash gains. The action to reduce quota to levels similar to the quota levels of a few years ago has also been widely supported by members of the public who understand the mule deer issue.

In their rush to bash the Commission, did anyone bother to mention that the Commission was genuinely worried about the health of the mule deer population? Did anyone bother to mention that the junior hunt quota actually increased? What about the fact that the proposed 2011 quota recommendation was about 12% higher than 2010 quotas while the deer population was about flat (1.8% increase by NDOW statistics with a published +/-  factor of 20%).

The quota as set puts the quota about where it was a few years ago when the deer population was at a level estimated by NDOW to be similar to the current population, with similar buck to doe ratios.

The essence of the Wildlife Commission meeting is that finally some Wildlife Commissions had the audacity to stand up to NDOW. These Commissioners proved that NDOW’s science is flawed and that they have been managing deer for the money, something that HUNTER’S ALERT stated decades ago. Of course, Commissioners McBeath, Cavin and Wallace did not show any leadership in this matter.

 

 

Published in Online Articles

Findings of the Mule Deer Restoration Committee of the Nevada Board of Wildlife Commissioners

Passed unanimously on 18 November 2010

Nevada’s Failing Mule Deer Population

 

Preface:

Nevada statutes mandate that the Board of Wildlife Commissioners establish policies and adopt regulations necessary to the preservation, protection, management, and restoration of deer in Nevada. 

The Mule Deer Restoration Committee has reviewed at length the relevant scientific documentation on mule deer populations in Nevada and the west, including all publications it could find produced by the Nevada Department of Wildlife.  The committee has reviewed at length all input on mule deer management provided by CABMWs to the Wildlife Commission and this committee, and has included the input in these findings where appropriate.  After much consideration this Committee is presenting the following recommendations based on the best science available.  If followed, these recommendations will go far in restoring the deer population and the range to prime conditions throughout the State of Nevada.

Published in 2010 Online News
Wednesday, 01 March 2006 00:00

NDOW’s lack of planning kills bighorns

Nevada Hunters Association

 

In July, 2005 a couple riding on ATV’s discovered 22-24 dead desert sheep carcasses at the McCullough #3 water development in southern Nevada. At least 3 of the sheep were very large rams in the Boone & Crockett category. All the sheep appeared to have died in a close time range of each other.

Published in HA Newsletter 30
Wednesday, 01 March 2006 00:00

Appeal to Chairman Rhoads and Claborn

Reprinted from Daily Sparks Tribune

March 12, 2006

RED TAPE: There is an absolute political backlash against the seemingly unending growth of government rules and regulations. This is manifest in Nevada by the people overwhelmingly approving maintaining bi-annual (every other year) legislative sessions, despite our dramatic population expansion. To even further limit “bureaucratic blight”, the people have allowed only 120 day sessions as well.

Published in HA Newsletter 30

Recently this group circulated a petition to the governor to maintain their two Commission members on the Wildlife Commission. These two members were on Larry’s NBU Board prior to being appointed commissioners. No wonder he strongly favors keeping his commissioners in place and is criticizing anyone else who suggests any new members. Talk about a hypocrisy. It is also no wonder that he has made such a dramatic effort to keep his clones in place. They attend his meetings and react to what he says.

This group says that they have donated so much to NDOW that they DESERVE a say in how NDOW is managed and to appoint anyone else would be criminal! WOW!  They are really a few self-centered individuals who only believe in themselves and only listen to themselves. They think that they are the only ones who should have a say on wildlife issues in the state and consistently brag about how many dollars they have given to the state and that “entitles” Larry and his group to control wildlife in the state. Nothing could be further from the truth.

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
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