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.

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Sage-Grouse and Predator Prey Relations

After years of hue and cry, and being carpet-bombed with lawsuits, last March the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service placed the greater sage-grouse on the candidate species list [here]. That didn’t halt the lawsuits, however [here, here].

The gist of the argle-bargle is that sage-grouse are in decline because their habitat is diminishing [here].

Nothing could be further from the truth. Sage-grouse population changes are governed by predator-prey relations, not habitat.

Sage-grouse do not eat sagebrush. They eat insects and seeds. They feed their chicks caterpillars. The insects and caterpillars that make up their diet also do not eat sagebrush. Principally, sage-grouse prey eat grass.

Sage-grouse can survive and even flourish where there is no sagebrush at all.

Sage-grouse, in turn, are prey to ravens, coyotes, cougars, eagles, hawks and other predators higher up the food chain. Sagebrush does not protect sage-grouse from their predators.

We reported these wildlife biology facts a year ago [here].

In a remarkable about-face, researchers have determined that sage grouse are NOT limited by “loss of habitat.” It turns out that sage grouse populations are governed by PREDATOR-PREY RELATIONS, just like all other animals. …

Idaho State University researchers found that ravens and badgers eat grouse eggs [here], but not ground squirrels. The clever scientists set up webcams near grouse nests and WATCHED as wild predators gobbled pre-hatched chicks. …

Real science, which is mainly concerned with reality, presents strong evidence that PREDATOR-PREY RELATIONS have everything to do with population dynamics, and that “loss of habitat” is a pile of bird crap.

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Maine: Spiraling Toward A Predator Pit

by Tom Remington, Black Bear Blog, April 28, 2010 [here]

A predator pit is created when deer populations (speaking of Maine’s deer management problem) have been reduced for various reasons and existing key predators, like coyote, bear and bobcat, can drive those numbers even further into an abyss, perhaps prohibiting a regrowth of the herd.

Admitting you got a predator pit might be as difficult as admitting you’re an alcoholic or a habitual drug user. It seems these days wildlife managers aren’t interested in admitting that predators can be a problem. I have written on this blog before that under ideal conditions, Maine pays little attention to the coyote, bear, bobcat or any other predator that might feast on a whitetail deer, adult or fawn. When populations, such as deer, get out of skew, an abundance of predators can and will create a predator pit, something that can never end and that is a very serious condition.

Before we look into what leads to a predator pit, we must first examine the problem that exists where wildlife managers fail to admit predators can be a problem. Dr. Charles Kay, perhaps the top wildlife ecologist in the U.S. today and an Adjunct Assistant Professor and a Senior Research Scientist at Utah State University, wrote in Petersen’s Hunting Magazine, in August 1993, that research indicated that predators limit ungulate (hoofed animals) populations.

Research in Alaska, British Columbia, Yukon, Alberta and other Canadian Provinces indicates that wolves and other predators, more often than not, limit ungulates.

Further, Mark Hebblewhite, University of Montana, College of Forestry and Conservation, in a 10-year study called, “Predator-Prey Management in the National Park Context: Lessons from a Transboundary Wolf, Elk, Moose and Caribou System“, examines how predators, mainly wolves, affect ungulate herds in and near the Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada. Hebblewhite warns wildlife mangers of the troubles attempting to manage predators in order to sustain an ungulate population as a food source, i.e. for hunting purposes.

Based on experiences in BNP, I show that wildlife managers face tough choices ahead and must come to terms with the truth that maintaining prewolf ungulate harvest regimes may be a fantasy in postwolf landscapes and, moreover, may be incompatible with ecosystem management.

Hebblewhite refers to “prewolf” and “postwolf” but we can certainly ascertain that coyotes, bears and other large predators can have effects on ungulate populations, especially if allowed to grow in numbers too great and/or other conditions on the ground have greatly reduced deer numbers, i.e. weather, hunting, disease, predation, etc..

George Dovel, Editor of The Outdoorsman, sums up in the Feb-April 2010 Edition, Bulletin Number 38, this same Hebblewhite 10-year study by listing 10 conclusions the study provided.

1. Wolves destroyed 90% of the elk population.
2. Elk slaughter by wolves increased in proportion to the severity of the winters.
3. 60% of the elk that were part-time residents stopped migrating to Banff after wolves arrived.
4. Wolves destroyed 56% of moose populations and nearly eliminated calf recruitment.
5. Wolves decimated woodland caribou, driving numerous herds to extinction.
6. Wolves stole 57% of prey kills by grizzlies.
7. Any attempt to manage ungulates anywhere near pre-wolf numbers is “a fantasy.”
8. Increasing quality habitat for elk in 77.22 square miles caused more – not fewer – elk to be killed by wolves.
9. To begin replenishing ungulate populations, wolf numbers need to be reduced every year by at least 70%. The reduction has to last until the ungulates recover and must reoccur if ungulates decline.
10. Sportsman wolf hunts utilized to control wolf populations are never effective.

Readers may want to refer back to these 10 conclusions later on as there are many things that have been determined here that can be carried to predator management in Maine’s Predator Pit. … [more]

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