RENO - Nevada Department of Wildlife officials say its commission ignored its staff's research when when it reduced the number of mule deer tags for this year's hunting season.
The commission's decision earlier this month, came despite excellent game surveys, good precipitation and increasing populations of deer.
Against the recommendations of Nevada Department of Wildlife big game biologists, the Commission reduced mule deer buck tags in all but five unit areas, cutting staff recommendations by 25 percent, and reducing mule deer buck tags in five specific hunting units by cutting staff recommendations by 10 percent., said NDOW Acting Director Ken Mayer.
With these reductions, 11,536 mule deer buck tags were allocated statewide for 2011, compared to the 14,910 recommended by staff, a reduction of over 22 percent from staff recommendations. The Commission-approved 2011 tag quotas are almost 15 percent less than the 2010 levels.
"Under the guidance of Mayer, increasing Nevada’s mule deer herd with habitat restoration and improvement programs has been a priority for the agency. Based on increased population numbers, herd condition and exceptional moisture levels in much of the state, the NDOW big game biologists recommended an increase in 2011 quotas,” said Mayer.
“However, the Commission chose to ignore the scientific data presented by staff and reduced tag numbers, which creates a significant loss of opportunity for deer hunters.”
In addition to being contrary to staff recommendations, the cuts are also divergent from the recommendations of the state’s County Advisory Boards to Manage Wildlife. These boards are officially tasked to gather information and opinions from area sportsmen, then advise the Wildlife Commission about how to manage wildlife and recommend seasons and limits for their counties.
In 2011, Nevada witnessed a modest increase in the statewide mule deer population estimate for the second year in a row. Biologists are optimistic that good body condition, low winter mortality and mild winter conditions in most areas contributed to increased production in the spring of 2011.
“Biologists and staff experts put a great deal of effort into the scientific survey work that is the basis for their tag quota recommendations,” explained Larry Gilbertson, Game Division Chief for NDOW. “Disregarding these recommendations negates all of the hard work and dedication of Game Division employees, with our sportsmen coming out as the biggest losers."