Monday, 01 June 2009 00:00

Contrary To Ndow’s Beliefs, Predator Control Works

Written by Hunters Alert
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An article written in the Deer Times, Fall 2007  by Floyd Green proves predator control works. The article entitled, “Managing Mountain Lions in a Desert Sheep Unit” shows when people open their minds and listen, they will realize the damage that lions are doing to our game . Following is a brief synopsis of the article along with HUNTER’S ALERT comments that will be emphasized in bold print.


In 1981, the Arizona Game & Fish Department (AGFD) supplemented Desert Sheep in Unit 22. Within a few years, the sheep population had grown and sport hunting was authorized in the area. The area turned out to be a premier area producing big rams. The area was so productive they were transplanting sheep from this unit to other units within the state.


In 1995, there were 250 sheep in this unit. Five years later, the number had dropped to approximately 75 animals. They realized something had to be done to reach a better understanding of the need for predator control in declining wildlife populations.


HA: It’s too bad that NDOW and the former wildlife commissioners appointed by Governors Miller and Guinn did not listen to HUNTER’S ALERT when we told them about predators over 20 years ago. Had they reacted like Arizona, we would not have lost over 60% of our deer herds.

A lion hunter came forward with a plan to help resurrect the sheep population and prove that lion depredation, not disease or drought, was the cause of the decline.


HA: NDOW, their biologists, and the former wildlife commissioners have used 20 different excuses for 20 years about the decline of our deer. Predators were not included in the list.

One of the obstacles for the Arizona project was funding. The Department was asking for $150,000 to get started.


HA: Because of HUNTER’S ALERT, Nevada Hunters Association and Assemblyman Jerry Claborn, NDOW gets between  $350,000 and $400,000 a year for predator control. The difference between Arizona and Nevada is that Arizona wanted to do predator control while Nevada refuses to believe that we have a serious predator problem in our state.


However, the major obstacle was that some members believed the regional biologists who had convinced them that the prolonged drought and disease spread by the local domestic sheep herd were responsible for the decline of the wild sheep herd. Even though the AGFD’s own statistics on collared sheep in the Unit showed a 66% loss due to depredation by lions, and not disease, it took a fair bit of convincing to get everyone on board. To make matters worse, these same biologists had underestimated the lion population dramatically.


HA:  This is exactly how the NDOW biologists think! Certainly no sportsmen’s organizations would question the biologists. A lot of uninformed sportsmen like Larry Johnson believe biologists’ decisions are based on science and that they are never wrong.

The Arizona project was to document the number of lions in a unit with the use of hounds, houndsmen, and area biologists.


HA: On September 17, 1998, HUNTER’S ALERT met with newly appointed Director Terry Crawforth and Wildlife Commissioners Bill Bradley and Jack Coons. HUNTER’ S ALERT requested data be collected on lion predation. This request fell on deaf ears!

Duane Shroufe, the director of the AGFD had the foresight to see the need to develop a comprehensive lion management plan. He felt that this study would be a very important part of developing that plan. Without his support and that of many others, in and out of the Department, it would not have taken place.


HA: That’s different, a director who truly wants to gather data and then do something with the material. Former NDOW Directors Willie Molini and Terry Crawforth along with former wildlife commissioners took sportsemen’s money to do two surveys. The results of both surveys showed the majority of hunters wanted something done about predators. Once again, it fell on deaf ears.

Confident results…From 1999 to 2003, AGDF personnel captured and collared desert bighorn sheep and at the same time, houndsmen removed lions through sport harvest from the study area. Whenever a collared sheep died, the scientist would determine the cause of death. Population surveys were conducted to determine the trend, ram/ewe and lamb/ewe ratios. After the removal of lions, the sheep population increased quickly; in fact, there was a 50% increase in lamb survival during one of the worst periods of drought in Arizona history. Even more important, there was no evidence that disease, drought, or habitat conditions were significant factors in the decline as people were led to believe prior to the study.


HA: Habitat and drought have been NDOW’s favorite excuses for the decline of our deer. Wildlife biologist Tony Wasley wants everyone to believe that habitat is the main reason for the decline of deer.  How can it be that there was no evidence that drought or habitat were significant factors in the decline of sheep in Arizona? I guess that these two well-used excuses are only affecting Nevada game animals.

The fact that mountain lions can have a devastating impact on wild sheep populations may not seem like earth-shattering news. But to the scientific community, this undeniable evidence is precedent setting.


HA: During the last legislative session, there were a couple of bills that would have given the Wildlife Commission a little more authority over NDOW. Larry Johnson and other NBU representatives were there testifying against the bills. They kept saying “Let the biologists and scientists make the decisions. NDOW biologists and followers like Larry Johnson believe habitat is the only reason for declining deer numbers. Perhaps if they read this article, they may reevaluate their positions on science and biologists. Of course, they won’t because they don’t want their minds muddled by facts, surveys and actual data which you will not find in NDOW.

Last modified on Wednesday, 14 April 2010 23:53
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