In the article titled “Deer management policies in the crosshairs” which appeared in your newspaper on Nov. 3, Ken Mayer failed to tell your readers the entire story. I will tell you what he omitted.
Ken Mayer stated “It hasn’t gone away,” referring to the ongoing controversy about mule deer. Why should it go away? It’s been over two decades that NDOW has done nothing but distort the truth about deer. Let’s prove it.
The article stated the heavy winter of 2010-11 nourished abundant plants and that biologists used this to justify the increase in tags. NDOW has used heavy winters for the decline of mule deer on numerous occasions. Apparently, NDOW’s biologists can have it both ways whenever this excuse fits in.
Director Mayer says the “mule deer population is stable and increasing.” Nothing could be further from the truth. A three-year study of Nevada’s mule deer by two Ph.D.’s will be released next month. Using the data furnished by NDOW, the study states “To say the least, scientists are deeply concerned about the future prospects of sustainable mule deer populations under current trends and policies.”
Ken Mayer finally stated that predators might be a factor. However, what he failed to say was that his agency is sitting on hundreds of thousands of dollars, possibly a million dollars, that is designated for predator control and he is not using it. The Wildlife Commission has not held a predator committee meeting to approve a predation management plan since Feb. 25, 2011. There was no Predation Management plan for 2011-2012, no such plan exists for 2012-2013, nor is a meeting to even discuss such a plan mentioned on any upcoming Wildlife Commission agenda. Does this sound like a director and Wildlife Commission that is truly concerned about our mule deer?
Director Mayer also stated that “Though predators may be a factor, a far more significant one is continued loss of deer habitat.”
Habitat has been the main excuse used by NDOW for about the last seven or eight years. They used the drought excuse for about 10 years. I feel very confident that the habitat excuse will outlast the drought excuse. They will continue to use habitat as their main excuse for declining deer numbers. They can use this everlasting excuse until all of their 30-year government pensions kick in. During the drought years, NDOW’s favorite excuse for declining deer numbers was, when in doubt, blame the drought. Now when NDOW needs a new excuse to grab at, make it habitat.
Director Mayer stated, “I think we have the best team in the west to figure these things out.” NDOW biologists have been using excuses for over two decades and still haven’t figured it out. It’s quite obvious whatever science they are using isn’t working and it’s time to change the scientists. NDOW has had enough time to fix the problem. Either they can’t or won’t fix it. Neither excuse is acceptable to the people who pay their salaries.
Director Mayer is weary of attacks by “self-proclaimed wildlife experts.” In order to shut these “experts” up, all that would need to be done is to bring back our deer, something that isn’t being done. It’s that simple to shut them up. But Ken Mayer doesn’t think that way. He is more concerned about the 280 people who hunt sheep than the 51,011 who hunted deer in 1988 with a 53 percent success ratio.
Ever since Ken Mayer was hired six years ago, he has proven he is an expert at one thing: the exploitation of wildlife for financial and political advantage. But what will NDOW do when the deer population fails to the point where it is no longer viable to hunt in much of Nevada? The answer is simple: Ken Mayer will go back to California where he came from and laugh every month when his pension check comes in the mail while the citizens and wildlife of Nevada continue to suffer.
Tony Wasley, NDOW’s mule deer expert, stated that today’s numbers (deer) are closer to what should be expected on average. Apparently, Mr. Wasley doesn’t want to believe the old-timers in Elko County like John Carpenter and Cliff Gardner and many others who witnessed deer migrations by the thousands.
This is how Director Mayer has solved the two most important wildlife problems in our state. Problem: Declining deer numbers. Solution: Change Tony Wasley’s title from biologist to “mule deer expert.” Problem: Declining sage grouse numbers. Solution: Appoint Shawn Espinoza, who was hired as a game warden, to be the “sage grouse specialist.”
In addition to those two appointments, he hired a person who trained in Africa as his chief of big game. That appointment also didn’t work out for our mule deer. Is it any wonder why Nevada deer hunters are in this predicament? Rest assured, without a doubt, under Ken Mayer’s leadership, it will never get any better.
In closing, Ken Mayer should not be fired. He just should never have been rehired.
Cecil Fredi is president of Hunter’s Alert and has lived in Las Vegas for 70 years.