Reprinted from the Elko Daily Free Press -
By Charlie Howell
COMMENTARY: As a former wildlife commissioner for the last three years, I feel I have firsthand knowledge about wildlife issues in Nevada. The article by Pete Mori in your newspaper on July 14 titled “Set the wildlife record straight” must have been written by NDOW director Ken Mayer because there were quite a few inaccuracies in the article. I will straighten them out.
Heritage money, that being money derived from auction tags and donations, can only be spent on projects approved by the Wildlife Commission. Since the inception of Heritage money, the majority of the funds were spent on bighorn sheep projects. In essence, this money should have been spent on two species that were declining, namely mule deer and sage grouse, rather than bighorn sheep, whose numbers were increasing. Never was a dollar spent for predator control. This changed with Governor Gibbons’ appointments to the Wildlife Commission.
Governor Gibbons’ appointments to the Wildlife Commission approved projects that included predator control to enhance mule deer and sage grouse. I was proud to have served on the committee that approver those projects. Some of Pat Laughlin’s projects were for the removal of ravens to enhance sage grouse. Director Ken Mayer fought against all of these approved predator control projects for over two years. Had director Ken Mayer approved these projects, an extension would not have been needed.
Everyone involved (who will tell the truth) with these projects knows it was Ken Mayer who was responsible for this denial. Director Mayer blatantly ignored Governor Gibbon’s order to cooperate with the Commission and carry out the Commission’s policies according to statute. Pete Mori was not on the Commission during this time frame and probably wasn’t aware of the conflict between the commission and Director Mayer.
Another area where Pete Mori was wrong was about the number of ravens that could be removed. The Las Vegas Dump located in Apex had an estimated 4,000 ravens. Wildlife Services removed 3,000 of them. They were able to do this because the proper authorities honored this request. Ken Mayer did not do this for raven control in Elko County! All of Sandoval’s appointments to the Wildlife Commission, led by Chairman Mike McBeath, voted to deny the extension. Ken Mayer and the Wildlife Commission do not believe in predator control. Their votes, in denying the money for raven control, proves this point.
In 2001, the Legislature passed a law granting money to be used for predator control. The original intent was that it was to be used for mule deer. However, it did not say that specifically in the bill. There are many areas where deer numbers have increased because this money was used for the removal of lions and coyotes. It appears that Mr. Mori is pleased that the predator money which has been used for deer will now be switched to sage grouse. This shows that Mr. Mori could care less about bringing back our deer.
When the sage grouse is listed, let’s put the blame squarely on the people who failed to act. They are Ken Mayer and Governor Sandoval’s appointments to the Wildlife Commission. They were in a position of authority to do something and they didn’t. They are more concerned about spending resources on bighorn sheep. I’m sure they will have a bogus excuse for their failures.
I sent a letter to Governor Sandoval stating that I did not wish to be re-appointed to the Wildlife Commission. I believe that as long as Ken Mayer is the director and Governor Sandoval’s appointments do not have the fortitude to stand up against Ken Mayer, sportsmen and wildlife will suffer in our state. Sandoval’s wildlife commissioners have already shown they will rubber stamp anything NDOW wants. I feel confident that someday I will be able to tell Governor Sandoval “I told you so.”
In closing, Pete Mori may not have liked the article written by Cecil Fredi, but he tells the truth, unlike some NDOW employees.
Charlie Howell is a former wildlife commissioner who has been hunting and fishing in Nevada for more than 65 years.
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.
By Cecil Fredi
Reprinted from The Nevada Rancher, April 2012 -
The definition of fraud is to misrepresent the truth to take money away from a person or persons. It appears this is exactly what Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) has been doing for decades to Nevada deer hunters. Using NDOW’s statistics, in 1988 there were 250,000 deer in our state. Today their estimates are 105,000. Knowledgeable people believe that the real number is much lower. The reason for NDOW’s allegedly inflated numbers is that they can sell more deer tags thus creating more revenue for the agency.
Currently, a reputable outside independent agency with two PH.D’s on staff is doing a study on the decline of deer numbers in Nevada. This project has had many setbacks. NDOW refused to provide them with the deer data. It took the Wildlife Commission (Jim Gibbons’ good appointees) using freedom of information act requests on two separate occasions to obtain the needed information. Why was this necessary? What are they hiding? NDOW director Ken Mayer did everything possible to insure the independent firm did not receive the information for them to do their study. Because of NDOW’s stonewalling, the project has been set back over a year.
When the initial findings are released, a peer review should be initiated. The collected data should be sent to many specialists for their findings, akin to a doctor’s second or third opinion. Rest assured that Ken Mayer will fight all of this. What is NDOW afraid of? If they were doing their jobs and not cooking the books on deer numbers, they should have nothing to hide. In fact, they should welcome this review to put all of this speculation to rest. But they won’t.
At a Wildlife Commission meeting, Paul Dixon, Chairman of Clark County Advisory Board to Manage Wildlife threatened to sue this contractor if there was anything negative stated about NDOW’s science. Apparently, Mr. Dixon doesn’t care about the truth. NDOW’s science can’t be too good when they admitted that they use some of Utah’s data for determining the number of deer tags in our state. How is that for bogus science?
For over two decades, NDOW has used 15 different excuses for Nevada’s mule deer decline. For the past few years, NDOW has used the habitat excuse. This is an excuse that they can use for several more decades till their retirements kick in. It’s hard to blame habitat when elk and deer occupy the same areas. Elk numbers have increased dramatically over the past two decades while deer numbers have drastically declined. The reason for this decline is that the main source of food for the mountain lion is the mule deer.
Most biologists believe (but not NDOW’s) that a lion will eat a deer a week. However, NDOW refuses to acknowledge that we have a predator problem. It took two sportsmen’s organizations, Hunters Alert and Nevada Hunters Association to get a bill passed in 2001 in order to fund predator control which is done by Wildlife Services. NDOW is not going to and never has done any predator control work. How bad is the lion problem in our state? In Hunt Unit 014, which is one of the smallest units in the state, Wildlife Services removed 40 mountain lions in three years. This means 480 deer or bighorn sheep are still alive because of this lion removal.
I’m not the only one who believes fish and game agencies have corrupted themselves. Guy Eastman, famous outdoor writer and photographer, recently wrote an article called Predator Death Spiral. He named the article to explain what happens when “a wildlife agency attempts to hide or “pad” their big game population estimates when over predation begins to take hold”. I would urge everyone concerned with wildlife to read this very explosive and truthful article. Look for him at www.eastmans.com/guy/2011/11/the-predator-death-spiral/.
Let’s prove why NDOW director Ken Mayer and Governor Sandoval’s appointments to the Wildlife Commission led by Chairman Mike McBeath will not do anything about not only deer but all big game in our state. In August, 2008 the wolf was declared a big game animal in the state. This was done by Governor Kenny Guinn’s appointees led by Wildlife Commission chairman Clint Bentley and NDOW director Ken Mayer. The re-introduction of wolves in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, has decimated their big game herds. One area in Idaho has lost 90% of its elk because of wolves. . With leadership like this, not only will the deer never return, but like other states, all big game will be decimated. When this occurs, be sure to thank Clint Bentley, Ken Mayer, Mike McBeath and the rest of Governor Sandoval’s appointees to the commission.
Jim Gibbons’ good Wildlife commissioners (6 of 9) instructed Ken Mayer that if there was never any evidence of wolf packs in Nevada, the wolf was to be deleted from the big game animal classification. Ken Mayer refused to do this. A the December 3, 2011 Wildlife Commission meeting led by Chairman Mike McBeath, the Commission voted to keep the wolf as a big game animal. Currently, the wolf is a federally protected species. However, at some point, the control of wolves will be the right of each state. If proven that there were no wolves in Nevada, it could then be classified as an unprotected predator.
In 1929, the black bear in Nevada was classified as a big game animal. It was not until 2011, 82 years later, that a season and quota was set. All of this, of course, was under the objection of director Ken Mayer. Judging from this past history, there would never be a season set on wolves until all species of big game were depleted in Nevada.
Wildlife Commissioner Scott Raine worked long and hard on a new Mule Deer Management Guidelines (Policy 28). It was a 13 point program necessary to preserve, protect, manage, and restore wildlife and its habitat. The committee was composed of people like Cliff Gardner and John Carpenter who had witnessed the Ruby Valley deer migration which numbered in the thousands in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Today the migrations are all but gone because there are no deer. At the December 2011 meeting led by Chairman Mike McBeath and director Ken Mayer, the complete policy was deleted. So much for deer restoration in our state.
Heritage Funds are generated from the auction of big game tags. This amounts to about $400,000 a year. This money is to be used for enhancement of game birds, game animals and game fish. One provision of this statute is that the money can be used “for the management and control of predatory wildlife in this state”. The Wildlife commissioners, not NDOW, select the projects to be funded. For years, NDOW’s top request, i.e. spending the most money, was for transplanting bighorn sheep. NDOW believes it is more important to focus on the 280 people who hunt sheep than on the 51,011 hunters who used to hunt deer. The use of Heritage funds for predator control work was never considered until Jim Gibbons appointed commissioners who recognized its importance in saving the deer herds as well as other species.
These Wildlife commissioners approved three predator control projects. One project was submitted by HUNTER’S ALERT for mule deer restoration. Pat Laughlin of Nevada Alliance 4 Wildlife submitted a proposal for mule deer enhancement and sage grouse recovery. Mike Stremler, a rancher and lion hunter submitted a proposal for deer enhancement by removing lions in a particular area. The only way NDOW would approve Stremler’s proposal was if it was done as a research project. During Stremler’s initial presentation, Director Ken Mayer stated that his biologists told him there were no lions in the Stillwater Mountain area. Stremler took one lion and reported that there were six others. Stremler’s total in a little over a one year period was the removal of eleven lions and there are at least three more in that area. All of this in a 12 mile radius!
In the course of one week, 139 coyotes were removed in Unit 031 on the HUNTER’S ALERT project with this money. Pat Laughlin’s project was responsible for removing 239 coyotes in less than three days in Elko County. All the coyotes removed were in wintering deer areas and many were shot off a freshly killed deer. Director Ken Mayer fought against all of these proposals. Does this sound like someone who wants to enhance game birds and animals? These initial predator control programs with Heritage Fund money were extremely effective. However, with Governor Sandoval’s Wildlife commissioners, this money will never again be used for predator control.
When former Governor Jim Gibbons hired Ken Mayer, he instructed the new director to implement one of his major objectives, to bring back our mule deer. After doing nothing for four years about this serious problem, Gibbons fired him. Mayer obviously had no intention of doing anything about the mule deer problem. For decades, NDOW has been a bighorn sheep oriented agency. With the reappointment of Ken Mayer and the newly appointed commissioners by Governor Sandoval, it will return to a sheep only wildlife agency. Deer enhancement will never be considered.
In summary, there are three reasons why our deer will never return. 1. Director Ken Mayer has no interest in doing anything about the mule deer. This has been proven by his first four years of doing nothing. 2. It will take some serious predator control to reduce lions and coyotes. This is not going to happen with Governor Sandoval’s Wildlife Commission appointees and Ken Mayer’s past performance on predator control. 3. NDOW has over-inflated deer numbers so badly that the deer have no chance of recovery.
If there is a peer review and the results prove that NDOW has inflated deer numbers, then heads should start to roll. Start at the top with Director Ken Mayer and go right on down to all of the biologists who have been providing the bogus information for decades. Fraud is a serious charge. When it is a multi-million dollar fraud, it deserves serious attention. But when it goes on for decades it is shameful and inexcusable. Someone needs to be held accountable. At the February 2007 Wildlife Commission meeting, I was there to testify about another audit that NDOW had failed. Then Chairman Chris McKenzie asked me what I wanted. I answered that I wanted two things. Keep the corruption out of NDOW and bring back our deer. Five years later, NDOW has proven they can’t do either.
Cecil Fredi is president of HUNTER’S ALERT and has lived in Las Vegas for 69 years.
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.
Reprinted from Daily
March 12, 2006
RED TAPE: There is an absolute political backlash against the seemingly unending growth of government rules and regulations. This is manifest in
If there is any hope at all for
In order to make the necessary changes, we need to elect a governor who is a hunter. The last year sportsmen in
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.
Unlike former Governor Kenny Guinn, Governor Jim Gibbons kept his word to
Gerald Lent was appointed as a sportsmen’s representative from
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
Mike McBeath was appointed as a sportsman representative from
These new commissioners will bring with them fresh ideas which are long overdue. Jim Gibbons is to be commended for his new appointments.
Good times are coming for the people who are concerned about the loss of our deer. The newly appointed Wildlife Commissioners have been told by Governor Jim Gibbons to bring back our deer. It won’t be easy nor will it be quick. Let’s review who was responsible for the loss of these deer and why it happened.
Sold out the sportsmen right to the end
For the last six years, HUNTER’S ALERT has told you how bad Clint Bentley has been as a Wildlife commissioner. He should never have been appointed to the Commission. HUNTER’S ALERT isn’t going to waste any more ink and paper on his many past failures to represent sportsmen.
It should be noted on his way out that he needs credit for the following: as chairman of the Heritage Committee, he approved of giving a student funds to do a study in another state! Heritage Fund money is supposed to be used for
The next giveaway was even worse. He pushed the approval of giving $40,000 to start a 4 year mountain lion study. This was just the tip of the iceberg. The proposed project is to pay a graduate student to get a doctorate by giving the student a total budget of $472,040 to complete the study, including paying a salary and “fringe benefits” of $87,600 to the student. This project will include genetic analysis of 700 lions in
And finally, in his last meeting on June 28th, he voted to make the wolf a big game animal in
It is quite apparent that Clint Bentley had not done any due diligence on any of these issues. Just on the wolf issue, he would have realized that the wolves have pounded the elk herds in
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This is exactly what NDOW is doing in our state with mountain lions.
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