Someone in Nevada has it right about the uselessness of predator control

NDoW opposes killing of predators says habitat is the issue.

There is a battle raging in Nevada about predator control under the guise of helping deer and sage grouse. As it turns out the problem isn’t about predators but about habitat quality. For years the BLM and the ranchers have colluded in an effort to make more grass available to livestock under the guise of “habitat improvement projects” which destroy piñon/juniper forests and sagebrush needed for cover while ignoring the fact that overgrazing has eliminated essential grasses from vast areas of the landscape and greatly impacted valuable bitterbrush.

When one looks at grazing permit renewal documents from the Nevada BLM, the habitat needs of wildlife are given only cursory analysis and the BLM always makes sure that when there are problems there are never any real cuts in AUMs but only what are commonly referred to as paper cuts, or animals that aren’t really grazed. Utilization standards often allow for utilization of native perennial grasses and shrubs or half shrubs of 50% which, as with the case of blue bunch wheatgrass, often kills the plants or greatly hinders their vigor in these arid environments.

Back in December came news that mountain lions, coyotes, badgers, skunks and ravens would all be targeted in an effort to improve deer and sage grouse survival using $866,000 from the Nevada Department of Wildlife’s Heritage fund. The money would have been used to fund operations of Wildlife Services. Since then Nevada Department of Wildlife has come out in opposition saying that these issues revolve around habitat issues rather than predators and that the science doesn’t justify the wanton killing of predators.

Tony Wasley, NDOW mule deer specialist, said controlling predators won’t stop the disappearance of the sagebrush-covered terrain that deer depend on in Nevada and much of the West.

“We’re talking about a landscape-scale phenomenon here,” Wasley said. “The population is limited by habitat.”

Where there is insufficient habitat, “all the predator control in the world won’t result in any benefit,” Wasley said.

Feds, Nevada officials clash over deer predator control
Reno Gazette Journal



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  1. kt Avatar

    Poor Nevada:

    We’ve got a war going on,” said Cecil Fredi, president of Hunter’s Alert, one of two groups that successfully petitioned the wildlife commission to approve three predator-control projects Dec. 5. “Somebody’s got to do something.”

    There’s a War going on all right. A War on habitat and wild places.

    Nevada: At the epicenter of scores of new energy projects – from SWIP to ONLine to the Ruby Pipeline to SNWA aquifer mining.

    With BLM mowing and mashing all the sagebrush and trees in fuels (forage) “treatments”, and energy developers descending in every direction to rip the place apart fro north to south to east to west, you would think these hunters would realize there were better places to focus their attention.

    But at any rate, rattlers might bite a deer or 2 a year …
    Better call out the snake killers, too. But that would be no fun for Wildlife Services. No helicopters and aircraft involved …

  2. Jon Way Avatar

    Good for the state biologist’s to speak up about this. We often bash state and federal officials on this website for following “the party line” of hunting and agricultural interests so connected to wildlife mgmt decisions. Not the case here and for the better….

  3. JB Avatar

    I hope he gets to keep his job.

    1. Jon Way Avatar

      I agree which gets me to think of this quote:

      “Hunters and (state wildlife) agency personnel often show limited empathy and openness because of their orientation toward self-enhancing power and achievement and political or other conservatism. Self-enhancing and conservative values have been closely identified with prejudice, unwillingness to engage constructively with unlike others, and a preference for power arrangements that perpetuate inequality.” – from People, Politics, and Cougar Management by David Mattson and Susan Clark, in Cougar Ecology & Conservation (p. 212) Edited by Maurice Hornocker and Sharon Negri.

  4. Brian Ertz Avatar

    it’s the habitat, stupid


Ken Cole is a 5th generation Idahoan, an avid fly fisherman, wildlife enthusiast, and photographer. He is the interim Idaho Director for Western Watersheds Project.

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