Nevada’s Wildlife Range War is Heating Up – Hunters vs. Cougars

Source: Mountain Lion Foundation

There is a small range war waging over the fate of mountain lions in Nevada. The two feuding parties–The Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW), and the Commission which oversees them–are fighting over a very unlikely issue–how many mountain lions to kill.

It started when influential, special interest hunting groups petitioned the Nevada Board of Wildlife Commission to protect Nevada’s deer herd from mountain lions so their members would have more deer to shoot. The Commission responded by ordering NDOW to implement a series of predator removal programs aimed directly at mountain lions.

They also formed a “Mule Deer Restoration Subcommittee” to provide a public platform for disgruntled deer hunters, open-range ranching interests, lion hunters, and ex-employees of USDA’s Animal Damage Control to spout nonsense about how NDOW’s biologists only had “book learning” and couldn’t be expected to understand the complexities of habitat management and proper species (deer) restoration practices.

Arguing that the “science” didn’t justify such draconian measures, NDOW refused to proceed with the Commission’s plans thereby preventing USDA’s Wildlife Services (the Federal agency which would have been contracted to shoot and trap Nevada’s lions) from carrying out the Commissions orders.

Faced with what they see as an obstructionist Department, certain members of the Commission are now proposing to take control of Nevada’s mountain lions out of NDOW’s hands. At their September 24, 2010 meeting in Las Vegas, the Commission is expected to direct NDOW staff to cooperate in drafting new legislation to remove what little protection mountain lions currently receive as “Big Game” animals under a regulated hunting structure.

Based on the present makeup of the Commission, it is likely that such legislation will indeed be written. Let’s hope that the enlightened citizens of Nevada see through this blatant act of cronyism towards certain hunting groups and push the Nevada State Legislature for sweeping committee representation reform so that this can never happen again!

* * * * *

Note: This same type of legislation was tried unsuccessfully a few years ago with Nevada Assembly bill 259, where at the same time bill proponents elected to also change the Department’s name from “Wildlife” to “Game,” thereby declaring to the world their overall bias against non-hunting concerns.

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