Saturday, 30 March 2013 16:25

Nevada Wildlife Director Resigns

Reprinted from the Las Vegas Sun -

By:  Sandra Chereb

The director of the Nevada Department of Wildlife resigned abruptly Wednesday at the request of Gov. Brian Sandoval following months of pressure from representatives in rural Nevada over deer management and agency efforts to stave off federal protection for sage grouse.

In an email letter to staff obtained by the Associated Press, Ken Mayer said the decision to take the agency in another direction is the governor's prerogative.

His resignation is effective Feb. 12.

"We all reach times in our careers where change in inevitable," Mayer wrote. "That time came for me this week when Gov. Sandoval's office asked me to resign as the director of the Nevada Department of Wildlife."

Mary-Sarah Kinner, in a statement to the AP, said, "The governor thanks Ken Mayer for his service to Nevada and wishes him well."

She said Sandoval anticipates "naming a successor in the near future."

Former Nevada Assemblyman John Carpenter, an Elko Republican, said he and others lobbied the governor for Mayer's ouster.

"I've had problems with Ken Mayer for a long time," Carpenter told the AP in a telephone interview. "I've been talking and corresponding with the governor for a long time about this."

Mayer's departure comes two years after his reinstatement to job after he was fired by former Gov. Jim Gibbons in November 2010 as Gibbons was leaving office.

Mayer, a wildlife biologist with more than 20 years' experience in Nevada and California, then went to work briefly for the Legislative Counsel Bureau and was rehired by Sandoval after he moved into the governor's office in 2011.

Mayer's battles with Gibbons involved Mayer's disputes with the Nevada Wildlife Commission, a nine-member policy-making board of governor appointees. The commission under Gibbons was often at odds with Mayer, and emphasized predator control and the killing of coyotes and mountain lions as key to restoring Nevada's deer herds.

Carpenter said those same conflicts persist. He also accused Mayer of being "in cahoots" with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management over protecting sage grouse. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is under court mandate to determine by 2015 if the chicken-sized bird deserves protection under the Endangered Species Act. Western states fear a listing would devastate rural lifestyles and put the brakes on ranching and energy development.

In a letter sent to Sandoval on Wednesday, Carpenter complained the wildlife agency was spending too much money on "questionable studies" rather than for "ground predator management."

"It is the position of Ken Mayer to turn Nevada into another California," Carpenter wrote in the letter obtained by the AP.

"The only way to get into a positive mode in regard to increasing the deer herd and keeping sage grouse off the endangered list is for the governor to relieve Ken Mayer of his position and choose someone who can work with all parties on a cooperative and positive note."

Biologists have said loss of habitat, much of it due to wildfire, is the main reason deer herds have been declining in the state and around the West.

The wildlife director is appointed by and serves at the pleasure of the governor. A law passed by the 2011 Legislature removed a requirement that such appointments must come from recommendations put forth by the commission.

Mayer was first hired as head of the Nevada wildlife agency in 2007.

In his exit letter to staff, Mayer wrote, "Before I came here, the reputation of this department and its workforce was widely known throughout the wildlife world as a top notch organization. Over the six years I have been director we have added to that great reputation.

"As I leave here, I have every faith and confidence that you will maintain that same level of commitment and integrity toward the management of wildlife in Nevada."

Mayer could not be reached for comment.

Read more:
Published in Syndicated Articles
Saturday, 30 March 2013 16:13

More Misinformation by NDOW Chief

Reprinted from the Elko Daily Free Press -

By:  Dr. Gerald A. Lent

As a former chairman of the Nevada Board of Wildlife Commissioners for two years and vice chairman for one year and living in Nevada for 70 years, I read with great dismay and consternation Wildlife Director Ken Mayer’s commentary regarding himself and Nevada’s deer herds. As chairman , I was privy to know how the Department of Wildlife conducts its business and am compelled to set the record straight.

Mayer stated that his move to Nevada was a great move for him, that he was proud to call himself a Nevadan, and that he has made Reno his permanent home in which he intends to dedicate the rest of his career to manage and protect wildlife resources in this great state.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Records show the real truth is Mayer is living in a house in Sparks that he does not own. This house is the primary residence of another person! The truth is he still owns his house in Sacramento, Calif., which was deeded to him by his ex-wife, Karen.

It is quite apparent if he has not committed to buying a home in Nevada since he arrived here over five years ago, then he is not a true Nevadan as he claims and he is not committed to Nevada! This is a very unprofessional approach and behavior for a person of his level in government and further substantiates the fact he is not committed to the resources of Nevada. This is an indication that he just wants to collect his pension from Nevada and then leave the state only to return back to California where he owns his home. This should be an embarrassment to Governor Sandoval and all true Nevadans. Make no mistake about it — Mayer is not a true Nevadan as he claims and his decisions on wildlife in Nevada have proven that!

I was the one who recommended him to Gov. Jim Gibbons and for that I am deeply regretful. I did not know of his deceitfulness and misrepresentations of himself when he applied for the job. I originally supported him based on his promises he made to Nevada sportsmen and the Governor who directed him to bring back our mule deer and his proclaimed belief in the positive results a good predator program could bring for Nevada’s wildlife.

Another area in which Mayer was not truthful was in his belief in Predation Management when he presented a seven-point plan on his views to the Chairman of the Assembly Agriculture, Mining and Natural Resources Committee. His plan stated he would “Establish a mechanism that allows for direct coordination between the Nevada Board of Wildlife Commissioners’ Wildlife Damage Management Committee and Nevada’s landowners and livestock producers. This relationship will facilitate a dialog that would allow the Predator Committee to benefit from the experience and knowledge that Nevada’s ranchers have regarding localized predator issues. This mechanism also will allow ranchers to propose predation management projects that benefit wildlife through their Commission representative on the Predator Committee.”

Mayer also stated his plan would “Ensure that the Predator Committee acknowledges the Nevada Legislature’s desire to see that the recovery of Nevada’s deer herds is a principle focus of the Predator Management Program.”

As usual, these were just words spoken by Mayer with no intention of implementation.

Director Mayer claims in his commentary to have spent $3.9 million dollars on predator control. The truth is he has not spent his money because all sportsmen by law pay a $3 predator fee when they apply for hunting tags. Sportsmen are providing this money, not Mayer because the legislature directed this.

Director Mayer also claims predation control has not produced any significant increases in deer numbers. Once again, he is being disingenuous as NDOW’s own 2010-11 Big Game Status Book indicates that one area in Nevada showed a 65 percent increase in mule deer since a predator control program was implemented in 2004 and surrounding areas with no predator control programs showed remarkable decreases in mule deer populations.

You only have to ask any rancher in Nevada if predator control works to protect their resources!

Another scientific study in Arizona called the 3-Bar Study has been used by wildlife biologists for more than 30 years for mule deer studies. This study explicitly shows that deer in an enclosure that is predator proof will produce 10 times higher fawn ratios than deer outside an enclosure. The study’s findings so far indicate that predators may have a more significant impact on deer populations than biologists previously thought.

Director Mayer and his staff biologists just refuse to acknowledge professional scientific studies in lieu of their own twisted analysis of the data available to them. In fact, his own Wildlife Damage Management Committee to gather data and establish predation projects where needed has not met in two years! This is a reflection on his commitment and dedication to this program.

Gibbons, in December 2009, sent a letter to Director Mayer directing him to end the tension between him and his staff towards the Wildlife Commission as it was counterproductive to the Governor’s goal of increasing the mule deer population in Nevada. The Governor also instructed Director Mayer to follow the requirements in Nevada law which clearly reads the Director shall carry out the policies and regulations of the Commission.

The Governor explicitly stated he expects director Mayer and his staff to implement the policies established by the Commission. Director Mayer refused to implement many of the Commission policies, especially the ones to bring back the mule deer herds in Nevada, as directed by the Governor. As a result of his disobedience to follow the Governor’s directives, Gov. Jim Gibbons fired Director Mayer. Gov. Sandoval, when he took office, rehired Mayer.

Director Mayer was not truthful when he was interviewed for the job and this pattern has continued during his tenure as director of NDOW. He has failed the sportsmen and ranchers in Nevada miserably.

I hope this clarifies many unfounded statements that Director Mayer presented in his commentary in the Elko Daily Free Press on Nov. 23, 2012.


Published in Syndicated Articles

Reprinted from the Elko Daily Free Press

By Cliff and Bertha Gardner

Dear Mr. Ken Mayer: With sadness we read your letter printed in the Nov. 23 issue of the Elko Daily Free Press. Most of what you had to say was untrue.

The most blatant of all, however, was your claim that critics have yet to produce evidence indicating lack of effective predator control is the controlling factor limiting mule deer production throughout Nevada.

Nothing could be farther from the truth. The amount of historical and scientific data demonstrating the positive effects of predator control practices that is available to you and others is voluminous, even in face of the fact that you and others of your ilk have been doing all you can to suppress such information for years now.

What is lacking on your part is your unwillingness to acknowledge the truth. You want the world to believe that man’s influence upon the world is bad — that ranching is bad, that grazing is bad, that roads and power lines are bad, that free enterprise is bad, and private land ownership is bad.

Governmental officials have been suppressing and hiding information from the public for many years now. They don’t want the public to know the truth concerning the importance of livestock grazing and predator control.

On Oct. 6, 2010, the Board of County Commissioners for Elko County sent a copy of Rural Heritage Preservation Project, “Finding of Facts Document” to your agency asking that you address each issue raised within the document so as to determine if past actions taken by the various resource management agencies might be responsible for downtrends in wildlife numbers. Instead of answering the challenge, you sidestepped the issue.

On Dec. 3, the Elko Commission submitted a second letter to your department asking that you respond to their request. Again you avoided answering the County’s request.

In the August 2011 issue of Nevada Rancher, I issued you a challenge asking that you produce data supportive of the positions you have taken in the past regarding wildlife management. I received no response. And so on Sept. 23, while making a presentation before the State Wildlife Commission, I again asked that you or other officials respond to requests made. Again we received no response.

While passing yourself off as experts and by spreading untruths you have been able to snow the public into believing you are protecting the environment when in fact you have been pursuing an agenda detrimental to every value the people hold dear. Deer, sage grouse, songbirds and pygmy rabbits have not declined because of modern human activity. Deer, sage grouse, songbirds and pygmy rabbits have been declining in number because of agency actions that have been put in place over the years.

Four times you have been challenged — four times you have sidestepped the issue. Today we challenge you again. Before you or others working for government go forward with plans for the protection or preservation of sage grouse which might end in causing further harm to every value we hold dear, we demand that the following steps be taken.

First, we demand that a study be undertaken for the purpose of determining sage grouse status and production on private lands owned by the Sorensen family near Secret Valley, as compared to that on lands now owned and controlled by the Bureau of Land Management, midway up the Mary’s River drainage, which have not been grazed for more than 15 years. If this is done, perhaps it will reveal the truth regarding the issue at hand. Is it those working within the private sector whose management practices are hurting sage grouse — or is it those working within the various resources management agencies?

Second, we demand that a large study area (roughly the size of Area 7 and Area 10) be set aside here in Nevada where livestock grazing and predator control practices similar to those which were carried on in the 1940s, ’50s, and ’60s be conducted for a period of 20 or more years for the purpose of determining the true effects of grazing and predator control practices on sage grouse, mule deer and other wildlife.

Third, we demand that a study be completed so as to determine amounts of yearly production and nutritional value of black sage growth or regrowth, on plants that are grazed by domestic sheep on a regular basis, as compared to black sage plants that are left ungrazed from year to year. Should it be found that winter ranges which are grazed routinely produce a much higher percentage of highly nutritious feeds each year than ranges which are left ungrazed from year to year, it may offer an explanation, why it was that sage grouse did so well when great numbers of domestic sheep were being grazed in the past.

Fourth, we demand that officials working for the Nevada Department of Wildlife, the U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, answer and address each question that is presented in the Rural Heritage Preservation Project, Findings of Facts document which has been presented to them, before any new plan, rule, policy or regulation is put in place or implemented for the protection and preservation of sage grouse in the State of Nevada. It now appears that actions of the past have been based on false assumptions. If such is the case, new policy needs to be formulated mirroring those practices that were in place during the first half of the 1900s.

Fifth, we demand that officials working for the Nevada Department of Wildlife make data available showing the total number of mule deer buck tags which were issued within the State of Nevada for each year, beginning in 1945 through 2010; the total number of mule deer doe tags that were issued within the State of Nevada for each year beginning in 1945 through 2010; the total number of mule deer bucks that were harvested each year beginning in 1945 through 2010; and the total number of mule deer does that were harvested each year beginning in 1945 through 2010. For too long now, such data has been hidden from the public. It’s time we know the truth.

Sixth, we demand that before any new plan for the preservation and protection of sage grouse be implemented, such practices as will be proposed by persons working for the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management be first implemented and carried out on the Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge, the Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge, and Hart Mountain Wildlife Refuge, so that their effectiveness can be determined. Should such practices work on refuge lands, then and only then should they be implemented on other lands found throughout the West.

We look forward to your response.

Cliff and Bertha Gardner

Ruby Valley

Published in Online Articles
Sunday, 16 December 2012 14:34

Predator Control Provides Quick Results

Reprinted from the Elko Daily Free Press -

By Charlie Howell:

Editor: I was a Wildlife Commissioner for three years appointed by Gov. Gibbons with the express direction to explore our declining deer herds and try to rectify the situation. What I found was other states had similar declines and did major studies to try and reverse the problem.

The present NDOW management has been obsessed with the word “environment” so as to be held blameless. Well, guess what! Predators are part of the “environment” and the only part that we can control directly with immediate results.

The most compelling study as stated by one of NDOW’s own biologists is the 3-Bar study in Arizona where they built a predator-proof enclosure of over 600 acres and spent decades studying the results. After many years their biologists concluded the only significant difference outside the enclosure was predators and the fawn survival inside the enclosure was many times higher than outside. Why it took them so long to admit the obvious is probably because they went to the same schools as the biologists at NDOW.

While on the Commission we also benefited from testimony of many longtime residents and ranchers of the county’s most affected and their observations also fell on deaf ears at NDOW. I personally hunted deer for the first time in Elko county in 1960 and can attest to the large numbers in those years.

It’s to bad Ken Mayer didn’t move back to California when Gov. Gibbons fired him.

Charlie Howell

Las Vegas

Published in Online Articles

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

Reprinted from the Sparks Tribune

For 15 years in a row, here in the Tribune, I have written an annual column on the status of Nevada’s deer herd and, remarkably, the numbers have barely moved, with the herd remaining at rock-bottom levels: a little more than 100,000 animals. By comparison, we reached a peak in 1988, when 250,000 deer roamed the state.


That’s the bad news. But hope is on the horizon – at least the Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) is making major strides to, within its rather limited constraints, do something about it.

Published in HA Newsletter 33

NDOW director Ken Mayer has held the post for almost three years. During these two plus years, he has done nothing to bring back our deer. Quite the contrary, in the last two legislative sessions, there were bills proposed to enhance our mule deer. He opposed both of them.


Recently, a bolt of lightning must have struck the director. On July 8, chief of big game, Mark Atkinson announced that Tony Wasley had accepted the new position of Mule Deer Wildlife Staff Specialist. This is the same Tony Wasley, Elko based biologist, who recommended killing 987 does this year. But it gets better with this mule deer specialist. A 2004 press release by Kelly Clark on NDOW’s website quotes some of Wasley’s mule deer studies and comes up with this conclusion: “Most hunters ask what we can do to achieve higher numbers of deer. Pray for good summer rain. Nevada is the driest state in the Union and water is key in wildlife management. Without rain and snow to keep creeks running, springs fresh, grasses, forbs and brush tender and green for food and cover, deer numbers dwindle.”

Published in HA Newsletter 34

This Wildlife Commission has proven itself sportsman friendly and has accomplished many new things for sportsmen in Nevada that no other Wildlife Commission has done. Here are some examples:

  1. Despite opposition from the agency and director Ken Mayer, and some county Wildlife Advisory Boards, the tag drawing results will be available online for all sportsmen within 48 hours after the drawing has occurred. This enables all sportsmen the ability to see if they were successful in drawing a tag and for planning their hunts much sooner. The Commission felt this was a much needed and long over-due regulation.
  2. Now sportsmen are getting a definition of edible portions of big game mammals, game birds, and game fish. This regulation was badly needed to avoid wanton waste citations and to clarify what portions of game must be kept.  The definition of ‘edible’ had previously been left up to the interpretation of law enforcement.
  3. The Commission passed hunter friendly regulation for 2009 that allows for the return of big game tags without having to give a reason.  Hunters can now return deer, antelope, and elk tags as long as they are received by NDOW at least one day before the start of the applicable season.  Hunters will have bonus points reinstated and receive an additional bonus point as if a tag had not been issued and as if the applicant had been unsuccessful in the draw.   Bighorn sheep and Mountain Goat tags have an earlier deadline for return so that they can be re-issued to other hunters.
  4. A regulation is in the process to allow Online Hunt Application changes/amendments after an application has been submitted. Currently, once you submit your application, you cannot change or withdraw it. Last year, there were dozens of emails in Nevada by hunters who had made a mistake in the application process and wanted to make a change. This new regulation will be a win-win solution and will be very popular.

These accomplishments demonstrate this Commission’s attempts to make NDOW a more user- friendly agency and are well received by most sportsmen.

Published in HA Newsletter 34
Monday, 01 October 2007 04:52

NDOW continues to sell out mule deer

There are three groups who could bring back our deer, the Wildlife Commissioners, the majority of our legislators, or Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW). None of them choose to do this. Let’s examine these groups and prove why they don’t care about Nevada’s once famous mule deer.


First, the Wildlife Commission. None of them have ever proposed any idea to even think about bringing back our deer. Quite the contrary. Wildlife Commissioner Clint Bentley, on two different occasions, has prevented more lions from being killed. This alone proves he doesn’t care about our deer. This guy has the title of “sportsmen’s representative”. However, he should be representing anti-hunters. He still has one year left on his appointment to continue selling out Nevada hunters.


Published in HA Newsletter 32

New NDOW director Ken Mayer has inherited a 30 year mess. This mess was created by the two former directors, Willie Molini and Terry Crawforth. Also helping to create the mess were the wildlife commissioners who were appointed by former governors Bob Miller and Kenny Guinn. These Wildlife commissioners had no guts to stand up to the former directors so they need to share the blame for the loss of our deer.


Published in HA Newsletter 32
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