1 Mar 2008, 11:28pm
Wildlife Habitat
by admin

The Destruction of the Sheldon

Gardner, Cliff. The Destruction of the Sheldon. 1995. Gardner File No. 22-a.

Full text [here]

Selected excerpts:

IN THE SPRING of 1989 Bertha and I were invited by Harry and Joy Wilson to visit the Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge, which is located North of Winnemucca in Northwestern Nevada right up against the Oregon line. Created for the purpose of protecting pronghorn antelope, the Refuge comprises a huge area, somewhere around 460,000 acres. The thing Harry wanted us to see was the destruction that was occurring on the Refuge because of mismanagement by federal agents.

At that time the agency in charge, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, was nearing the end of their long effort to rid the Refuge of livestock permittees of which Harry and Joy were among the last. So it had been a frustrating thing for them, as it had been for all the other permittees as they were being forced off - not only from the standpoint of all they were losing as livestock operators, but also from the standpoint of having to watch the area they loved go down hill.

Harry had spent his entire life there in the Virgin Valley, his father having lived there even before the Refuge had been created, so he remembered what it was like before the government created the Refuge. Harry related how abundant the antelope had been in the 1930’s and 40’s. He said that during his youth it had been a family tradition to count the antelope each Fall as they left the high country and headed for the Black Rock Desert for the Winter. He said at times antelope would come through the valley strung out in bunches of a thousand or more. He estimated that at that time there were at least ten thousand antelope summering on the Big Spring Table each year. (Big Spring Table being a high mesa that lay just North of where they lived). But now, after years of government management, there were few antelope left.

I related to what Harry was saying, for in Ruby Valley our family had similar experiences, only with us it was with deer. Back in the 1940’s and even up until the late 1960’s, we would watch the foothills above the ranch as the deer migrate South in the Fall and North in the Spring. And they too would migrate through in bunches of a thousand head or more if the weather caught them right. And like Harry, we too had seen the great herds diminish because of stupid government management.



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