ELKO — To match management levels, Nevada Department of Wildlife is recommending statewide hunters be allowed to take more elk and fewer mule deer bucks this year.
The state wildlife agency said due to a successful buck hunt last year — which in many areas had record buck-to-doe ratios — the buck quota recommendation for 2014 is 4 percent lower statewide compared with last year except in junior hunts.
In a few areas, however, the anterless deer quota will increase due to poor habitat conditions.
“These populations have continued to exhibit density dependent responses to poor habitat conditions,” NDOW stated in an explanation for its big game quota recommendations. “Persistent drought conditions, degraded range conditions, and large-scale wildfires on winter ranges have all contributed to the reduced carrying capacity in these mule deer herds.”
The sparse range resembles poor land conditions in 1992 and 1993 that led to a massive winter die off, according to NDOW.
Elk populations are robust, leading to an increase in tag recommendations throughout the state, including a 51 percent uptick in cow tags.
“With no surprise to most hunters, continued bull and cow elk tag increases are recommended for 2014 to continue to reduce herds to their population objective levels,” the NDOW document states.
Elko County hosted a meeting in February with representatives from Idaho and Utah to deliberate plans to reduce elk populations, which some ranchers said were causing damage to property, such as fences, and eating livestock feed.
Local NDOW game biologist Ken Gray said the department supported a variety of elk-cow incentive hunts. Comments regarding the proposed ideas were overwhelmingly supportive.
Joe Doucette, NDOW conservation educator, said the multifaceted process to set big game quotas involves twice-a-year aerial herd counts to determine the buck-to-doe ratio post hunt and fawn-to-adult ratio after the winter shed.
NDOW also takes into account hunter success and the condition of the range.
The big game application deadline was April 21 for the draw, which takes place in June.
Hunters who missed the deadline can apply for a leftover tag around July, however.
“There’s not usually a lot of leftover tags, but there are some,” Doucette said.
Hunters who put in for the first draw but were not selected will need to apply again if they want to put in their names for leftover tags.
For information, visit ndow.org.
The Nevada Wildlife Commission determines tag quotas for big game, which includes mule deer, pronghorn antelope, elk, bighorn sheep, mountain goats and black bears.
The wildlife advisory board meets 6 p.m. Monday in the Nannini Administration Building.