12 Mar 2011, 10:01am
Cougars Coyotes Deer, Elk, Bison Wildlife Agencies
by admin

Rigging the Game in Nevada

Note: The following is excerpted from “Mule Deer Working Group Supports Feeding Deer to Predators Instead of Restoring Healthy Herds”, the lead article in The Outdoorsman, Bulletin Number 42, Jan-Feb 2011. The entire issue is [here]. Back issues are available at Idaho For Wildlife [here].

By George Dovel

In December of 2010, Nevada’s Board of Wildlife Commissioners decided Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) biologists must take the necessary biological steps to restore and maintain mule deer populations as a condition of continued employment. See Outdoorsman No. 41 Pages 10-11 [here] for details.

Like their counterparts in other western states, NDOW wildlife managers have ignored science and state law in order to implement the radical 1991 “Wildlands” agenda adopted by the United Nations in 1992, and promoted by assorted national and international interests. Their goal of “Re-wildling” North America – by replacing rural humans with protected large carnivores and “native” plants in a vast system of “Core Areas” and “Wildlife Corridors” – is already being implemented.

NDOW Director Refused to Obey Commission

As happened earlier in Idaho and in other western states, when a majority of Nevada Wildlife Commissioners directed NDOW to implement predator control in depleted mule deer herds during the past two years, the Director and his biologists refused to do it. Early in 2010 USDA Wildlife Services control agents explained they could not control predators when the state agency that normally gave them direction refused to agree to it.

In November of 2010, after repeatedly refusing to follow Commission direction to control mountain lions and coyotes in selected areas where they were decimating mule deer herds, NDOW Director Ken Mayor was fired by outgoing Gov. Jim Gibbons. But once Nevada’s new Governor, Brian Sandoval [RINO, Mafia Party] was sworn in, he re-hired Mayer as Acting Director and made no secret of his intention not to reappoint Commissioners whose terms expire in June.

Those Commissioners have already solicited applicants for the Director position and are providing Sandoval with three names from which the law says he may hire one. But if Mayer is not one of the three, Sandoval is expected to re-hire him after the Commission terms expire.

With Acting Director Mayer influencing the new governor and his legal counsel, the Commission lost the opportunity to acquire additional funding that was needed to restore a healthy predator-prey balance in areas where mule deer exist in a predator pit.

NDOW Director Solicits Help from MDWG

Then in an effort to completely discredit the Commissioners he was refusing to obey, Mayer sent the Commission Findings to WAFWA* Mule Deer Working Group Chairman Jim Heffelfinger, a biologist with Arizona Game and Fish Department. Heffelfinger responded with a letter he signed, plus four unsigned pages titled, “Comments from the WAFWA Mule Deer Working Group regarding the findings of the Mule Deer Restoration Committee of the Nevada Board of Wildlife Commissioners.”

(* Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies)

Instead of responding to any statement in the “Findings of the Committee” with biological facts, the amateurish response brags about how many mule deer biologists from 23 (WAFWA) member states or provinces have been involved in the Working Group since it was formed 14 years ago. It also brags about the multiple publications it has issued and claims it “is considered one of the most respected and productive working groups ever sponsored by WAFWA.”

It neglects to tell the Nevada Commission that the mule deer biologists who provided all of this “expertise” are the same biologists who supervised the destruction of healthy mule deer herds they inherited in the 1980s. It also neglects to mention that every state that has followed their advice during the past 14 years has experienced an accelerated decline in mule deer populations and harvests.

MDWG Stopped Short of Exposing Its Real Agenda

Although the MDWG response criticizes several proposed solutions in the “Committee’s Findings”, it remains quiet about its major findings, (e.g. that NDOW is currently structured to focus on observational biology and research – not to act on the results of the research and correct the biological problems). And the Committee’s recommended solution (to restructure NDOW to re-focus on the biology of game production) was also not mentioned by the MDWG because doing so would expose its real agenda.

As you will soon learn, that agenda has nothing to do with restoring mule deer – and everything to do with trying to re-create “native” ecosystems according to a fanatical belief that has no basis in fact. If you doubt that, I challenge you to read “the rest of the story.”

MDWG Blames Mule Deer Decline on Human Development, Greenhouse Gases

The several hundred pages in the assorted publications referenced by Heffelfinger in his letter to Nevada Commission Chairman Raine display the same message. That is, human-caused habitat destruction and global warming (referred to more recently as “climate change”) are the causes of the mule deer decline.

In their 2009 87-page “Habitat Guidelines for Mule Deer Intermountain West Ecoregion” (one of seven ecoregions), NDOW Biologist Mike Cox is a major author. On page 24 it admitted: “conservation and predator control dramatically reduced deer mortality (Leopold et al. 1947).”

Yet on page 66 it quoted Wallmo in 1981, “In my view, the only generalization needed to account for the mule deer decline throughout the West is that practically every identified trend in land use and plant succession on the deer ranges is detrimental to deer. Hunting pressure and predators might be controlled, and favorable weather conditions could permit temporary recovery, but deer numbers ultimately are limited by habitat quality and quantity.”

Aldo Leopold was talking about the first half of the 20th Century when he was a leader in the historical restoration of game populations, using predator control and reduced hunting seasons as the major tools. Wallmo was expressing a personal opinion that was already disproved by a dozen long-term studies using the same two tools following the second game decline in the 20th Century.

MDWG Offers Excuses to Ignore Research

Yet none of those highly publicized studies are even mentioned in the MDWG literature except for studies in Alaska (Gasaway and Boertje) and Canada (Bergerud). Although these extensive studies concluded, beyond any reasonable doubt, that predators – not habitat – prevented recovery of declining game herds, WAFWA claims they are not relevant for two reasons:

1. Although the prey species studied were all members of the deer family, black-tailed or mule deer were not the major species studied.

2. They said the Alaskan and Canadian research occurred in “natural” ecosystems where they say predators “behave differently” than they do in systems that have been altered by humans like those encountered in the lower 48 states.

Whether the MDWG information was published in 2009 or 10 years earlier, the claim that ecosystems in Alaska and Canada were not influenced by humans is simply not true. The MDWG material contains frequent statements about predation that are either unsupported opinions or, in some cases, a misrepresentation of known facts.

For example, they offer a 16-page review of deer-predator relationships published in the Wildlife Society Bulletin in 2001, which claims that 10 of 12 western states, including Alaska and Idaho, reported they did not have predator reduction programs to benefit big game species. Yet Idaho?s ongoing bear and lion reduction during the late 1970s through mid 1980s to restore Clearwater Region elk populations, and Alaskan and Canadian wolf control programs to restore moose and caribou populations were a matter of public record during the review’s 1987 survey.

Predator Control, Short Seasons Restored Game

Regardless of what they were taught by college professors caught up in the anti-establishment revolution of the 1960s, every wildlife biologist has access to historical documents that provide facts. Game populations in the 11 contiguous western states and Alaska were over-harvested by both Native Americans and by the settlers who arrived in the latter part of the 19th century.

Compared to the number of present day hunters, a relative handful of people, equipped with primitive weapons and primitive forms of transportation by today’s standards, decimated the West’s game populations in a few short years. The hunter-conservationists who reversed the slaughter did not require decades of study and debate or expensive satellite tracking systems to implement a course of action.

They dramatically reduced the kill by predators with intense predator reduction programs, and imposed reduced hunting season lengths and bag limits to prevent excessive human take. They also banned commercial harvest of game species and mitigated the loss from occasional extreme winters in Northern states with timely emergency feeding in scattered critical areas.

And contrary to many biologists’ practice in the lower 48 states in recent years, they never allowed hunters to participate in an extra late season hunt to kill off the breeding stock because of drought or wildfire damage to forage, or early indications of a severe winter.

Yet the MDWG information wrongly claims that killing adult female mule deer in a special late season hunt before a severe winter is “compensatory” rather than “additive” by claiming the deer are going to die anyway. They conclude this will leave fewer deer to eat the limited forage and wrongly claim these remaining deer will then produce more replacement fawns.

If they took the time to read the Alaska studies, they might learn how ridiculous their statements sound to anyone with a basic knowledge of wild ruminant nutrition. Forcing deer to further deplete the fat reserves needed to survive a severe winter with an extended late season hunt guarantees fewer will survive and in even poorer condition.

Alaska Learned the Truth – and Published It

Long, either-sex seasons and multiple bag limits for deer in Idaho and Utah, and for moose and caribou in Alaska, resulted in record harvests during the 1950s and 1960s. Abnormally deep snow during the 1968-69, 1970-71 and 1971-72 winters in all three states triggered simultaneous declines in juvenile survival and adult populations.

With easy killing in the deep snow, predators increased those declines but biologists in all three states ignored biology and listened to earlier unsupported claims by Durward Allen and others that nature would balance itself. Later, in a 1985 National Wildlife magazine article, Allen?s former graduate student, David Mech, admitted he was responsible for the balance of nature myth that had all but destroyed the moose on Isle Royale and the once famous whitetail deer population in northeast Minnesota.

Boertje’s 20-year study in Alaska’s 6,564 square mile Unit 20A admitted they harvested more female moose than the number of replacement calves that survived, and said mortality from severe winters, hunting, and wolf predation were largely additive. And unlike biologists in Idaho and Utah, when the moose herd continued its decline to 2,500 in 1975, they reduced the number of wolves by 70-80% for five years and by 55-60% for two more years.

During the next 11 years, biologists did not kill wolves in 20A and the small number taken by hunters and trappers allowed the wolves to recover to a healthy level for the restored moose population. In 1984, there were 13,800 moose in the study area – 5.5 times as many as there were in 1975 – and hunters had harvested several thousand more caribou and moose than they could have without the temporary, but necessary, wolf reduction

MDWG Offers More Excuses to Hide Its Agenda

The hundreds of pages provided by WAFWA’s MDWG biologists mention the claim by hunters and by a growing number of respected biologists that controlling predators is essential to restoring healthy mule deer populations. But instead of being honest and admitting they don?t believe in controlling predators, they either ignore the several dozen long-term studies published during the past 30 years supporting this action – or else provide flimsy excuses for dismissing the research and claim even more research is needed. …

A 1986 Alaska Board of Game document may be even more revealing because the cost per wolf killed by airplane or helicopter appears quite expensive. From 1976-1984 Alaska biologists spent $824,200 to kill 1,313 wolves in the entire state, an average of $628 per wolf even then.

But based solely on the market value of $2.74 per pound for the extra 1.24 million pounds of wild meat that was harvested as a direct result of the wolf control, the direct benefit for meat production alone was $3.4 million. This 1-to-4 cost-to-benefit did not include the multiplier value of increased recreation and tourism providing income to merchants, pilots, guides, etc., or the increased wildlife viewing and photographic opportunities for everyone.

Despite these examples of the massive economic benefit from controlling wolves, a 2008 Reno Gazette-Journal interview of NDOW/MDWG Biologist Mike Cox included his quote: “We’re trying to find a (predator control) prescription that works, and if we can find that, we will use it in other parts of the state, So far we have not found anything that is going to work or that we won’t need to spend a half-million dollars for a small increase in the number of (deer) tags for that expenditure. In my book that is not an economically viable management tool.”

Yet without expressing any concern for the citizens who must pay the horrific cost of supporting their non-game agenda, Cox recently joined Western Governors in endorsing a $6 billion multi-state sagebrush-steppe habitat project that will not even slow the mule deer decline.

State Wildlife Biologists Experts at Deception

The elaborate deception engaged in constantly by state wildlife biologists reflects a disdain for the law, for the license buyers who pay their wages, and even for the Predator Policy established by their F&G Commission.

For example, Arizona’s Predator Management Team stated, “Predators and their prey cannot be managed separately.” And the Policy adopted by the Commission in 2000 states in part: “Mountain lion and coyote management may occur in, but is not limited to, the following circumstances: Where wildlife populations are below management objectives and where there is evidence that predation may be a factor.”

Yet MDWG Chairman Hebblewhite and former Chairman deVos brazenly ignored the Policy and let lions and coyotes decimate their mule deer population – pretending that habitat is always the problem. Read “Deer Predators and Drought” [here] to see what they are covering up.

13 Mar 2011, 11:21pm
by Jim

By now it is clear to see the wide scale trend to reduce ungulate populations in this country. Furthermore it is becoming more and more clear as to why and what the ultimate agenda is that participating parties share.

My only question is when will a legitimate indictment be brought forth to hold all the participating parties accountable for their malicious actions? I mean seriously,what is the hold up? This behavior is undoubtedly against the laws in place to uphold our Constitution. So I ask again sincerely,to those holding the offices,who vowed to uphold our Constitution, What is the hold up?

17 Mar 2011, 1:26pm
by Stuart H.

This is the biggest bunch of garbage I have ever read….it reads like the National Enquirer and is nothing more than conspiracy theory nonsense spewed by someone who simply hates wolves.

I am an avid hunter and someone who believes strongly in the management of both ungulates and predators. I feel like I just wasted a portion of my life reading absolute crap!

18 Mar 2011, 3:50pm
by YPmule

Stuart - you are entitled to your own disgruntled opinion, but I think you miss the point that humans have had quite an influence on our environment since we learned to control fire, including predator control.



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