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
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
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
Tuesday, 01 July 2008 00:00

No More Wilderness!!!

Reprinted from The Nevada Rancher, May 2008

 

Currently, there are many states that are getting proposed federal land cancer, also known as wilderness. I fought against wilderness in our state (Nevada) to no avail twenty years ago. Basically, wilderness is a cancer afflicting people who want to use federal lands for multiple use.

 

Let’s look at wilderness with a completely wide open mind. Just what the hell is it and just what good or bad does it do? Before we get into breaking it down, let’s define wilderness. The Federal Wilderness Act defines wilderness as an area of 5,000 acres or more of uninterrupted and non-manipulated environment. There are four federal agencies that can restrict land use. They are The Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service and the United States Fish & Wildlife Service.

 

Published in HA Newsletter 33

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
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

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
Thursday, 27 March 2008 00:00

Gibbons Should Choose As He Sees Fit

Reprinted from The Sparks Tribune

Some sportsmen’s groups are attacking Gov. Jim Gibbons, claiming “unease” for him being a “conservative western Republican” while serving in the U.S. Congress.

 

Not surprisingly, some of these same, who, by the way, DO NOT poll their membership before making such outlandish comments, were big fans of liberals such as Kenny Guinn and Harry Reid.

 

I know that for a fact, since I am a lifetime member of one of the most prominent critics, Nevada Bighorns Unlimited (NBU). Much to my embarrassment, one so-called spokesman for NBU, Larry Johnson, even went so far as to claim “Harry Reid saved hunting in Nevada,” a statement Reid quite wisely used in a campaign mailer targeted to fishing and hunting license holders throughout the state.

 

Reid saved hunting? What a joke. Without belaboring the point, a handful of anti-Gibbons types are being quoted as supposedly representing the views of certain organizations but in fact are simply expressing their own distorted views.

 

So  the current attack, well documented in a large article by Associated Press writer Sandra Chereb in last Sunday’s Sparks Tribune, is an attempt to keep Gibbons from properly exercising his prerogative and replace members of the Nevada State Wildlife Commission with his own choices. They want Gibbons’ enemy and former Gov. Kenny Guinn’s appointed commissioners reappointed.

 

Apparently, they believe Gibbons is too stupid to make wise choices. Not surprisingly, both of those they want reappointed are former board members of NBU. I am not sying the two commissioners in question are not good men; in fact, I respect both of them and have high regard especially for Jim Jeffress, whose opinions I deeply value. I am saying that Gibbons is fully capable of selecting others equally qualified without needing to pander to the elitist NBU mentality.

 

Another group criticizing Gibbons and supposedly representing sportsmen is the Coalition for Nevada’s Wildlife. As a founding member of this coalition, I know a great deal about its makeup.

 

Originally, many sportsmen’s groups started with this coalition, formed at a meeting in Winnemucca in 1993. I was at that original meeting and was an active participant on the board for about three years thereafter. However, since NBU was and remains today the primary source of its funds, it gradually eroded away from representing many divergent views to instead being simply a front for NBU. In fact, when we held the original elections for officers, that point was made very clear, and NBU board member Larry Johnson was selected as president. Now, about 14 years later, surprise, surprise – that same Larry Johnson remains president. The idea of a “coalition” is a joke. Divergent views are, in fact, not welcomed.

 

The current complaints about Gibbons really boil down to an elitist view of how wildlife in Nevada should be managed. The Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) has the management responsibility, and frankly, has been for years spending disproportionate time and efforts on programs catering to groups like NBU at the cost of the rank-and-file sportsman.

 

For example, Nevada has less than 200 bighorn sheep tags available yearly so only a tiny share of Nevada sportsmen has a chance at getting such a tag. By comparison, up to 30,000 to 50,000 deer tags are available in a good year. Despite these huge differences, NDOW focuses a grossly disproportionate amount of time, dollars and effort on the bighorn sheep, and the influence of groups like NBU is one of the reasons why.

 

Gibbons was elected with the support of smaller sportsmen’s groups on the promise to bring balance back to the wildlife equation. For the good of all sportsmen, not a handful of the rich and powerful, he should honor his campaign pledges and restructure the commission as he sees fit.

 

Ira Hansen is a lifelong resident of Sparks, owner of Ira Hansen and Sons Plumbing and his radio talk show can be heard Monday through Friday from 3 to 6 p.m. on 99.1 FM.
Published in HA Newsletter 33
Tuesday, 01 July 2008 00:00

A New Day for Wildlife

The Outdoorsman was published in Idaho during the early 1970s in response to severe declines in wild game populations across the U.S. With widespread national circulation, it published documented biological facts to disprove the unsupported “balance-of-nature” theories advanced by environmental activists.  These facts were provided to state and federal fish and game management agencies and elected officials, and are credited with the restoration of abundant wild game populations, which peaked in the western states in 1988.

During that period of wildlife abundance, non-hunting activists at the national and international level infiltrated state wildlife management agencies with their agendas.  The resulting steady decline in wild game populations throughout the West for the next 15 years caused The Outdoorsman to be resurrected in March 2004 by former editor and publisher, George Dovel.

Published in HA Newsletter 33
Monday, 01 June 2009 00:00

NDOW’s New Favorite Excuse

When NDOW needs an excuse to grab at, make it habitat!

 

For twenty years, HUNTER’S ALERT has listened to the twenty excuses from NDOW about the loss of our deer. The excuse that NDOW used most often was drought. For many years, the favorite motto for NDOW was “When in doubt, use drought” for the loss of our deer. Either NDOW wore out the drought excuse or the drought has subsided as NDOW has now changed their main excuse to the “loss of habitat”.  NDOW’s new motto is “If you need an excuse to grab at, make It habitat”.

Published in HA Newsletter 34
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