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
Tuesday, 01 July 2008 00:00

Sage Grouse Myths

Excerpts from Range Magazine

Summer, 2008


Environmental activists and many agency biologists are working relentlessly to make the sage grouse the spotted owl of the Intermountain West. If they succeed in getting sage grouse listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), they will likely effect sweeping change over traditional land use in the West. That is their goal. Ironically, this “sage grouse conservation effort” is based on the fraudulent claim that many millions of these birds inhabited the sagebrush country of the West prior to European contact but this claim is without factual basis.


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
Saturday, 28 February 1998 17:00


NDOW and the wildlife commissioners would like everyone to think that there are only one or two sportsmen who do not approve of the way our game is being managed. Nothing could be further from the truth. Former Wildlife Commission chairman Mahlon Brown used to refer to HUNTER'S ALHRT as the "small but vocal group". NDOW in their publication, Nevada Wildlife Almanac, referred to a "vocal sliver" of Nevada's hunters who opposed giving our sheep to Texas. HUNTER'S ALERT gets literally hundreds of letters, calls, or comments about NDOW's mismanagement. Listed below are but a few

Published in HA Newsletter 15
Friday, 03 February 2006 05:17

Comment - Readers Respond

My personal congratulations to HUNTER’S ALERT for such a totally complete, powerful, accurate, informing issue! If only every sportsman could come by a copy of this issue! For sixty years, I myself have been doing battle with this wildlife bureaucracy to no avail. When I learned about HUNTER’S ALERT, I immediately joined to become a part of it. HUNTER’S ALERT quotes my own sentiments verbatim.

I have received the last two copies of the U.S. Observer with the revealing and expose articles pertaining to Nevada’s disappearing wildlife and reckless bird and game mismanagement that has been taking place, that you and HUNTER’S ALERT have been pursuing and bringing to the sportsmen’s and our elected officials’ attention for so many years, not only in the sportsmen’s interest, but the benefit and welfare of our past once plentiful wildlife. All of Nevada’s sportsmen have poured millions of dollars into the Fish and Game Department salaries to manage as educated wildlife management experts only to end up with a critical--admitted wildlife, mule deer and popular sage grouse shortages, insured by the obvious overpopulations of protected predators, mainly the coyotes, bobcats and lions.

I cannot believe what you and Bud Sonnentag are accomplishing for the state and its paying sportsmen. As always, keep up the good work you represent and are doing for the rest of us in Nevada.

Nevada Jim Ornellas

Published in HA Newsletter 30
Tuesday, 31 January 2006 04:57

It Happened That Way - Part 5

1949 to 2006
There are currently three men left from the original group of 1973 axis members who beat the NDOW drums of praise and accomplishment louder than ever before. One of them is the NDOW director, Terry Crawforth. Another is Jim Jeffress, a Wildlife Commissioner. And Dave Rice is their mouthpiece beating the tom toms for a “Land of abundant Wildlife” in unison with Reno Gazette Journal’s sympathetic reporters leaving the sportsman, cattleman, ranchers and woolgrowers woefully without representation and sorely out-maneuvered. Whether this triad today is willful or just convenient is one for conjecture but it most definitely was forged thirty five years ago by men who showed little respect for sportsmen then, anymore than they appear to today. Because of these and other NDOW men, Nevada sportsmen have painfully endured several media campaigns aimed at them from NDOW and lambasted by newspapers, especially the R.G.J. The first anti-sportsman campaign was thoroughly investigated and exposed by Nevada sportsman Ira Hansen in 1993 so there’s no need of rehashing it except to say three things. It revolved around propaganda fallacies by NDOW law enforcement with full knowledge of all three axis players and was designed to disparage the sportsmen of Nevada with outright lies printed on a regular basis in the R.G.J newspaper throughout the years of the 1980’s to the 1990’s.

Friday, 20 January 2006 01:26

It Happened That Way - Part 4

1949 to 2006

Cougar and Mule Deer Mismanagement. http://www.dfw.state.or.us/wildlife/cougar/

The Federal Government by means of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has a vice grip stranglehold on the state of Nevada’s wildlife because of the 85% federally owned land in Nevada. They hold the purse strings to the money bag which equates to power. The federal political manipulation of this state has always been known in Nevada and in the area of wildlife this has been no exception. Beginning around 1960, a movement began toward protectionism in our country which was instigated by the U.S.F. & W.S. About this same time the feds conveniently discontinued the bounty system for predators on the west coast. This effectively dried up the much needed money to control predators in Nevada which in turn led the western states to seek other monetary means to control the ever persistent predator problem and consequently left the states even more at the mercy of the feds. The feds’ next move throughout the early 1960’s was to politically influence the western state legislatures to reclassify the mountain lion from a predator to a big game animal. This move is clear and unmistakable by anyone who reads the 1976 Mountain Lion Workshop of the Western States and Western Canada.

Monday, 09 January 2006 16:01

It Happened That Way - Part 3

1949 to 2006
One of the greatest mysteries and most closely guarded secrets in the Nevada Department of Fish and Game was to keep the world from knowing who was responsible for the most vicious predator on the North American continent being removed from a predator status and made a glorified big game animal. Who was this so-called eco- terrorist and his government agency? Was he the only one to blame? Was the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, a federal agency, involved? How was it kept a secret? Did the people involved have something to gain? How did this reclassification of a known and accepted predator by our entire nation for more than 200 years affect Nevada’s once famous mule deer herd? These questions and many more can be directly traced to the glorification of one of the most notorious predators known to man, the mountain lion and to the men who reclassified it.

Thursday, 05 January 2006 19:33

It Happened That Way - Part 2

1948 to 2006

The disunification of Nevada Sportsmen and Wildlife by the ruling body of ten biologists and game wardens reached its perfect zenith in 1973 by the formation of an axis of university diploma carrying men. These men were indoctrinated, predisposed well educated preservationists, protectionists and ecologists but not wildlife game managers as the unwary Nevada sportsman was to painfully find out over thirty three years of their mismanagement. The die was cast.

Tuesday, 03 January 2006 07:03

It Happened That Way - Part 1

1948 to 2006

Happy New Year and welcome to HUNTER‘S ALERT. As we said in the opening website caption, this is the start of something good. Something good for Nevada Sportsmen and Sportsmen nationwide, but not so good for all those who throughout their careers in Nevada Fish and Game have been making merchandise of you Nevada Sportsmen, the mule deer and a vicious predator, the mountain lion.

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