Increased opportunity for mule deer hunters suggested

The Nevada Department of Wildlife is recommending an increase in mule deer tags for hunters for the 2010 hunting season. This comes after an increase of Nevada's mule deer herd with a 2010 population estimate of approximately 107,000 deer, which ended a three year decline in the statewide population estimate.

"NDOW is recommending that Hunt 1331 -- a resident, any-legal-weapon, antlered mule deer hunt -- be increased from 8,526 tags in 2009 to 9,451 tags this year," says Larry Gilbertson, Game Division Chief for NDOW. "This is a recommended increase of 925 tags."

According to Gilbertson, this is in response to increased fawn recruitment that resulted in an increase in many of Nevada's deer herds. Fawn recruitment is the number of fawns that survive their first winter, at which time they are considered a permanent part of the herd. The fawn recruitment for the 2009-10 winter was 34 fawns per 100 does, up from the previous year's 27 fawns per 100 does, and just below the long-term statewide average of 35 fawns per 100 does.

The single largest increase occurred in Area 6 of Elko County, where ideal summer range conditions and a mild winter allowed for the addition of 800 animals, a 12 percent growth. Twenty years of aggressive restoration efforts of crucial deer winter ranges in Area 6, combined with excellent spring precipitation, contributed to the best fawn recruitment in 10 years.

"When Govenor Gibbons hired me," said Ken Mayer, director of NDOW, "he told me that my number one priority was bringing back Nevada's mule deer herd. NDOW has continued an aggressive habitat restoration and improvement program, which with the help of increased moisture on the range, is starting to pay off."

The 2010 statewide mule deer population estimate is approximately 6 percent below the 10-year statewide average of published mule deer population estimates from 2000- 2010 of approximately 112,700 and 28 percent below the 35-year average of published mule deer population estimates from 1976-2010 of approximately 137,000 mule deer.

Gilbertson does caution that while the trend is positive, it is dependent upon continued good range conditions and mild to moderate winters. However, he is optimistic that good body condition, low winter mortality, and mild winter conditions in most areas will help to contribute to increased fawn production later this spring.

Most of the rest of the species saw significant increases in tag quotas as well. The only species with declines are the Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep Hunt 9151, which saw a decrease because of the major disease event in the Ruby Mountains and East Humboldts, and the Mountain Goat Hunt 7151 because of a minor disease event in the same area.

The quota for resident Hunt 9151 was reduced from 10 tags, in 2009, to six tags this year and may be reduced by two more tags depending on the State Board of Wildlife Commission action this coming weekend regarding hunt units 101 and 102. Hunt 7151 was reduced from 24 tags in 2009 to 17 tags this year, as some goats were found that succumbed to pneumonia and biologists estimate that 30 percent of that herd may have died.


Ben Miller wins 2009 Wayne E. Kirch Conservation award

Ben Miller of the United States Department of Agriculture -- Animal Plant Health Inspection Service, Wildlife Services Division, has won the Nevada Board of Wildlife Commissioner's 2009 Wayne E. Kirch Conservation award. Miller's commitment to Nevada's wildlife resources will be recognized during the May Nevada Board of Wildlife Commissioner's meeting in Reno, where he will receive the award.

Miller has worked for Wildlife Services as a Wildlife Specialist in Nevada since 2002. During 2009, Miller worked many hours in the Washoe County mule deer protection area (hunt unit 014), removing predatory wildlife from the region. Additionally, Miller assisted the Nevada Department of Wildlife by recording global positioning system locations of wildlife observed while conducting routine wildlife damage management activities.

Miller co-wrote The Electronic Calling System: Effectiveness for Capturing a Wide Variety of Offending Wildlife Species in Nevada, which detailed ongoing research using electronic wildlife calling systems.

The Wayne E. Kirch Conservation Award is given annually to recipients who have demonstrated results towards conservation, management or enhancement of wildlife. It is named in memory of Wayne E. Kirch, who served on the Fish and Game Commission for more than 25 years, the longest tenure on the board since its inception in 1877. Kirch, of Las Vegas, died in 1989.