ELKO — U.S. Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev., will visit the Elko County sage grouse pilot program at Devil’s Gate Ranch to observe efforts to resuscitate bird populations through predator control.
Elko County commissioners discussed sage grouse at length at their meeting Wednesday, especially possible approaches to predator control — the commissioners’ preferred approach.
“The sage grouse could be our spotted owl in this county,” said Commissioner Grant Gerber. “We have to take action.”
Amodei’s visit to Devil’s Gate will usher in a period of high-profile visits to the experimental grounds. The commissioners did not specify a date for his visit.
Newly appointed Nevada Department of Wildlife Director Tony Wasley has also accepted a commission invitation to visit.
Gerber wants the commission to consider visiting with various Elko County groups — he specifically mentioned the Rotary Club — to communicate the sage grouse efforts and the commission’s role in the pilot project.
“We’re already starting to take pictures and do extra counts at the ranch,” Gerber said. “So things are really moving along with the project.”
The commission and public commenters discussed ravens extensively on Wednesday, but the coyote took the spotlight.
Commissioner Charlie Myers has been working on a possible bounty program that would have the county paying for dead coyotes. The plan, he said, would help reduce predation of sage grouse.
“We’re in the discussion phase,” Myers said. “We’re interested in how much interest there is in that.”
One public commenter, who said he works in professional predator control and trapping of animal populations in ranch areas, countered Myers.
“A bounty won’t accomplish predator control in the way you think it will,” he said. “It has to be specifically targeted to the population you want to control to accomplish that goal. You can save sage grouse but unless you have good science to back that up it won’t make a difference.”
Commissioner Jeff Williams didn’t agree.
“I don’t look at science,” Williams said. “I look at results.”
Gerber said he’s planning to meet with the tribe at the South Fork Indian Reservation this weekend to talk about sage grouse.
His dedication to sage grouse was duly noted.
“Don’t you have any hobbies or anything?” Myers joked.