By:  Pat Laughlin

I attended the Wildlife Damage Management Committee meeting and the Nevada Board of Wildlife Commissioners meeting in Reno this past weekend and would like to share with the sportsmen and citizens of Elko County the insanity that continues to take place at the expense of wildlife and our way of life in Nevada.

The Wildlife Damage Management Committee was chaired by Mike McBeath, an attorney from Las Vegas.  This was the first Wildlife Damage Management Committee meeting Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) has had for almost two years under McBeath's chairmanship  This committee leads the way as to how sportsmen's 3-dollar predator fee on big game tags is spent.  Mr. McBeath began the meeting by going into a 15-minute dissertation about how he was against any predator control.  In his "expert" opinion, predator control for the protection of wildlife doesn't work, costs too much, is too controversial, and he also saw a TV program that was against predator control. Now, I am sure Mr. McBeath is an educated man and I'm sure he can spell predator, but I am also sure this would be the extent of his knowledge on the subject...TV show aside, of course.

Next, the committee at the suggestion of Mike McBeath spent almost an hour discussing the subject of changing the committee's name.  After considerable discussion, the name remained unchanged.  Finally the fourth revised predator management plan from NDOW was presented and lengthy discussion took place including opposition of parts of the plan by several parties including current legislators, Assemblymen John Ellison and Ira Hansen and past Assemblyman John Carpenter.

Chairman McBeath did not give a report to the Nevada Board of Wildlife Commissioners on the Wildlife Damage Management Committee proceedings and their decisions to approve the three sage grouse projects and no decisions on the other projects. Instead he went into his same rhetoric as in the committee on how predator control will not help wildlife populations. All the projects then had to be explained to the Commission but the legislators and other interested parties were not in attendance thinking they had fulfilled their objective of stopping the study by Pat Jackson.  Why do we even have a committee meeting and take up the time of legislators and other interested parties and then ignore everything that took place?  This game was rigged from the start.

The full Nevada Board of Wildlife Commissioners, who, I might add, is stacked with Nevada Bighorns Unlimited (NBU) members and controlled by NBU, approved an ongoing study of coyote ecology in the Monitor, Toiyabe, and Toquima ranges in central Nevada by Pat Jackson, a graduate student from Utah State University (USU) to the tune of $100,000 a year for five more years.  In the previous three years of this ongoing study, this out-of-state student has successfully caught and radio-collared FIVE coyotes.  Two have been shot.  Three remain active.  This is at a cost of $193,463 for the past three years or $38,692.60 per coyote.  Now NDOW is planning on using a helicopter and net gun to collar coyotes for the researcher to help him reach his goal of 30-40 coyotes which would be a representative study group. Think of the costs.  I for one do not think this is what the sportsmen's 3$ predator fee money was meant for.

Another item on the Nevada Board of Wildlife Commissioners agenda was to award the prestigious Wayne Kirch award.  This is a Wildlife Commission pick and once again it was presented to another NBU member.  If you look at past winners of this award, the list is like the who's who of NBU.  NBU official Larry Johnson even recommended it for himself two years in a row a few years ago.

But it gets better...Shawn Espinosa is a former game warden, who was promoted from law enforcement to sage grouse expert for NDOW and is the main biologist that stopped the China Mountain Wind Project and closed over a million acres of gas and oil exploration leases.  Working hand in hand with the BLM, he supported numerous cuts in AUMs on grazing allotments throughout Nevada on the assumption that grazing could hurt a bird that isn't even listed on the endangered species list yet.  One particular grazing allotment south of Eureka on the Snowball Ranch was cut in half without evidence of a single sage grouse being present.  NDOW's defense of this action is that the area is good sage grouse habitat and someday sage grouse might move into the area.  Well, Mr. Espinoza was awarded the NDOW agency's Employee of the Year Award.

In closing, it is important to point out the US Forest Service and BLM have long been thought of as major threats to our way of life in Elko County but, in our eyes, NDOW, our own state agency, working behind the scenes with USFS and BLM is a bigger threat to the sage grouse than fires or the raven, not to mention the war on mining and ranching. NDOW and the current commission are the enemies!! It was simply unbelievable what I witnessed during these two days of meeting!!

Thank you for your time.

Pat Laughlin

President N4W

Published in Syndicated Articles
Friday, 14 September 2012 15:23

Governor Needs to Change NDOW Leadership

Reprinted from the Elko Daily Free Press -

By:  Pat Laughlin -

Editor: I would like to clarify a few points in the Sept. 5 editorial, “Sandoval sage grouse not in danger of extinction.” No disrespect to the editorial board, but, the China Mountain Wind Project was signed off and approved by the BLM. The Nevada Department of Wildlife, led by Director Ken Mayer, was the agency that stopped the project in the last hour. County Commissioner Charlie Myers witnessed the entire process.

The last paragraph might be a little hard to swallow for the fact that the man Governor Sandoval reappointed to run NDOW is not only drinking the kool-aid, but, helping the federal government make the kool-aid. We need new leadership for NDOW that will stand up for Nevada and get off the federal gravy train. Leadership that will quit trying to hold every mining company or wind project hostage by using a bird that isn’t even listed yet.

Remember the Ruby Pipeline project ... El Paso Gas figured out quickly that in order to get a project approved, you must pad the pockets of those involved. El Paso Gas paid Nevada $8.8 million to help out on sage grouse issues, of which $3 million was to go directly to Elko County. NDOW and BLM jointly control the money and can use it as they see fit to assist sage grouse management.

Of that $3 million for Elko County, $250,000 was given to the BLM for fire suppression, $221,000 has been spent on habitat restoration, $90,000 on noxious weed treatment, $68,000 on sage grouse study and $8,000 on holistic training. So far, not one dollar is being spent on protecting sage grouse nest survival by eliminating predators.

Why is this money being spent to fight fires when the BLM has an open checkbook when it comes to fighting fires? $250,000 would have gone a long way in thinning out the raven population to help the sage grouse nest survival.

It is obvious that if we want to do what is in the best interest of Elko County, then Governor Sandoval needs to make a change in NDOW, starting at the top.

Pat Laughlin

NA4W President

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
Reprinted from the Elko Daily Free Press

By Cecil Fredi - 

From July 1989 to June 1991, 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.

The results of this survey are unbelievable. At the completion of the 15-day period, all 1,400 eggs were destroyed on both study areas. Ravens were believed to be the chief nest predator.

During the 1989 legislative session, a bill was introduced to do some raven control. NDOW did not show up to testify. Even after Sen. Jacobsen requested that NDOW come to the legislature to testify on its own survey, NDOW chose not to testify in favor of raven control.

NDOW took sportsmen’s money to identify the problem and when it was time to implement a solution, they were missing in action. Former Wildlife Commissioner Bill Bradley phoned me to inform me that the study had been declared invalid. The reason? NDOW had marked all of the nests with a white flag. The ravens spotted the flags and realized the eggs were there. My answer to Mr. Bradley was, “NDOW must believe in the tooth fairy and Santa Claus.”

A recent study by United States Department of Agriculture in Wyoming found that predation was the leading cause of grouse mortality. A USDA official stated that coyotes, eagles, badgers and ravens all contribute to sage grouse mortality. Predation accounted for 81 percent of chick mortalities. Grouse were seven times more likely to survive in areas where predator control efforts are under way, the USDA official reported.

When Gov. Brian Sandoval reappointed director Ken Mayer, NDOW’s leadership has only gotten worse. Combine this with current Wildlife Commission Chairman Mike McBeath and many others on the commission who don’t believe in predator control, nothing will be done for sage grouse or mule deer. Now let’s prove it.

Pat Laughlin’s group, Nevada Alliance 4 Wildlife, had a project approved by the former Wildlife Commission. This project was for the protection of sage grouse nests and chicks from raven predation. NDOW Director Ken Mayer, was the major reason this project was held hostage for 21⁄2 years. In addition to the Wildlife Commission, Elko County Commissioners and Elko County Advisory Board to Manage Wildlife approved this project.

Director Mayer would not say the word “request,” so Wildlife Services could not start the federally approved DRC-1339 toxic egg program without this request from Mayer. It is obvious that Ken Mayer is against predator control. Does this sound like someone who is truly concerned about the seriousness of the sage grouse problem? He would rather feed the sage grouse eggs to the ravens than kill a raven. One reason former Governor Jim Gibbons fired Mayer was for his refusal to help our diminishing mule deer herd by doing predator control.

Now enters Governor Sandoval and guess what? Nevada Bighorns Unlimited puts on a big fundraiser for Sandoval to help him get elected and back comes Ken Mayer for a second round as NDOW director. Sandoval appointed him in direct opposition to other recommendations by the Nevada Board of Wildlife Commissioners. The newly elected governor then also placed NBU members on the Wildlife Commission as former Governor Gibbons’ appointed commissioners’ terms expired. To date, their only interest has been in Nevada bighorn sheep. Good old Nevada politics!

Now enters Pete Mori, Elko County rancher. Sandoval reappointed him as a Wildlife Commissioner to represent livestock interests throughout the state. Like Ken Mayer, this is his second round. This was all done by NBU’s writing a letter to Sandoval and urging him to reappoint Mori. So, why would NBU wish to endorse a livestock person to the Wildlife Commission? Because Pete Mori votes the party line with NDOW and NBU every time. They are assured a secure vote from Pete for all their programs! Again, this is called Nevada politics!

At the Wildlife Commission meeting held in Elko on June 22-23, Director Mayer stacked commission members, and with assistance from NBU messiah Larry Johnson lurking in the shadows directing traffic, had the commission vote to repeal any money for the protection of sage grouse nests from raven predation. This shows none of these people truly care about the seriousness of the sage grouse issue.

Of course, Commissioner Pete Mori, livestock representative, voted right along with NDOW by supporting this motion. He also voted with NDOW for a two-week sage grouse season, which makes no sense because we are trying to save sage grouse, not kill them. So you may ask, why is a Nevada-born, lifetime rancher from Elko County voting with these wildlife extremists?

To my knowledge, Mr. Mori has not attended any Elko County CAB meetings since being reappointed. Additionally, he has not attended several sage grouse symposiums hosted by the Elko County Commission. He only appears at Nevada Wildlife Commission meetings to vote the party line with NDOW and NBU. It is very obvious that Mr. Mori has “sold out” to these wildlife organizations. He is not representing the livestock interests of Nevada. He is representing NDOW, NBU, and Mori ranches. Pete Mori may well be in contention for the Nevada Bighorns Unlimited Volunteer of the Year!

Someone needs to put Commissioner Mori’s feet to the fire and ask him who does he really represent?

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. NDOW has taken this cliché to an entirely new level. They do nothing for decades and expect different results. Sage grouse and mule deer have no chance of recovery with the reappointment of Ken Mayer and Governor Sandoval’s appointments to the Wildlife Commission. If ever there were a state agency that needs an oversight committee, it is the Nevada Department of Wildlife.

———————

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

 

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

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

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