Boating under the influence enforcement nets arrests

Game wardens with the Nevada Department of Wildlife participated in a nationally coordinated boating safety enforcement effort dubbed "Operation Dry Water" on June 26, arresting three drunken boat operators and issuing 125 boating safety citations.

"We were not out there to write tickets, but rather we wanted to make the lakes safer for everyone this weekend," said David Pfiffner, Nevada's boating law administrator. "Getting drunken boaters off the water is one of our top boating safety priorities."

As part of the program, NDOW coordinated boating safety patrols at waterways across the state. Game wardens checked 235 boats, arrested three drunken boaters and issued 125 citations for safety violations. In addition, game wardens performed two search and rescues of boaters in trouble and investigated one boating accident. Park Service employees from the National Park Service at the Lake Mead National Recreation Area worked on this national effort with game wardens on Nevada's southern waters.

Many boaters don't realize that operating under the influence carries the same penalties as driving drunk in a car, including steep fines and jail time. More importantly, according to Pfiffner, boating under the influence puts lives at risk. In fact, more than half of Nevada's fatal accidents last year were alcohol related.

"Every time we work on a needless fatality, it shapes our resolve to educate our boaters better," Pfiffner said. "We're not saying 'don't drink,' but we are saying wait until you are back on dry land and you don't have to drive anywhere before you do."

Operation Dry Water, launched in 2009, has been a highly successful effort to draw public attention to the hazards of boating under the influence. It is scheduled during the summer boating season and coordinated by National Association of State Boating Law Administrators, in partnership with the states, the U.S. Coast Guard and other agencies. More information is available at www. operationdrywater.org.


Fall turkey hunt closed for 2010 season

Because of decline in turkey population numbers, low hunter success and based on the recommendation of the Nevada Department of Wildlife, the Nevada Board of Wildlife Commissioners closed the 2010 fall turkey season at its meeting in Ely on June 26.

"Turkey populations in areas that have traditionally had a fall hunt have experienced declines," said Shawn Espinosa, game biologist at NDOW. "Additionally, success during the fall hunt was relatively low last season (20-30 percent), and the number of hens being harvested is typically high for these hunts. In order to conserve adult hens and aid in population recovery, the closure of fall seasons was recommended."

The fall turkey season was started in 1991 and has usually run from early October through early November. The annual spring turkey season will still happen, beginning in late March and running through early May.

Espinosa reports that the closure is not permanent and believes the hunt will be reinstated once the population numbers rebound.

"We make evaluations each year. If we see enough of a population increase and harvest numbers respond during the spring, then a fall hunt in 2011 may be possible," Espinosa said. "I would suspect that recovery may take a couple of years though and largely depends on weather and habitat conditions. A fall hunt in 2012 is probably more likely if we see a decent response in turkey populations."

Wild turkeys were first introduced to Nevada in 1960, but the program was not successful until the late 1980s when NDOW began releasing the Rio Grande subspecies of wild turkey. Since 1987, NDOW has released more than 1,600 Rio Grande turkeys into various areas across the state as well as 187 Merriam's turkeys, mostly in eastern Nevada.