Wildlife Commission to Set Big Game Quotas

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A mixed bag of proposed increases and decreases in big game hunting tag allocations faces the Nevada Board of Wildlife Commissioners when they set this year’s quotas during a May 8-10 meeting at 1100 Valley Road in Reno.

The public meeting kicks off on Thursday, May 8 at 1:30 p.m. and will continue on Friday, May 9 and Saturday, May 10 with sessions scheduled to begin both days at 8:30 a.m.

Big game hunting tag quotas will be set at the Saturday session with deer tags again expected to generate a considerable amount of interest and discussion. Recommendations from the Nevada Division of Wildlife (NDOW) call for a 10 percent reduction in deer tag allocations from last year.

Gregg Tanner, NDOW chief of game, said the proposed reductions are based largely on spring deer surveys that put the state’s adult deer herd population at 109,000 animals, which shows little change from last year.

“There have been significant reductions in deer herds in management areas six and seven (northeast Nevada) from the harsh winter two years ago. This along with four years of drought conditions are impacting our fawn recruitment,” he said.

The two big game management areas have historically held high numbers of deer and Tanner said this year’s low quota recommendations are largely based on significant declines in deer numbers in those areas. Deer numbers elsewhere in the state have not suffered nearly the losses that have occurred in those two major hunting areas.

The state’s pronghorn antelope population is in fairly good shape and NDOW is recommending a 10 percent increase in hunting tags from last year. Elk numbers continue to rise and are now at an all-time high of 7,000 animals. Hunting tag recommendations reflect continuing increases in the elk population, especially in central Nevada and White Pine County.

Tanner said the state’s habitat is changing to more of a grassland environment, benefiting grazing animals such as antelope and elk.

Desert bighorn sheep have seen low lamb production and survival rates due to drought and tag quotas are recommended to decline slightly. California bighorn sheep are faring the drought somewhat better and quota recommendations are similar to last year.

Other major items on the Saturday agenda are consideration of an antelope management plan, and release plans for 2004 and 2005 for big game, upland game and waterfowl.

On Friday commissioners will act upon requests for Heritage Fund projects that are designed to benefit the state’s wildlife. They will also decide the number of Heritage tags to be issued and consider amending hunting season dates for Heritage tags.

The commission is also scheduled to discuss proposed legislation regarding wildlife and boating and may take positions on the proposals.

On Thursday commissioners will hear an appeal by an applicant whose application for a commercial fishing permit was denied. They are also scheduled to take action on a petition by the Nevada Outfitters and Guides Association to establish a nonresident bobcat season.

The meeting is open to the public and public comment periods will be held each day.