RENO — A longtime wildlife biologist for the Nevada Department of Wildlife has been named the agency’s new director after the last one was forced out in part because of ongoing disputes between conservationists and ranchers.
Gov. Brian Sandoval said Wednesday that he is appointing Tony Wasley to the post partly because the 16-year Department of Wildlife veteran has “an acute understanding of the significant challenges of wildlife management in Nevada.”
“Tony’s reputation for a science-based management approach and his experience collaborating with private, nonprofit, local, state and federal partners will be invaluable to the department,” Sandoval said in a statement.
Wasley succeeds Ken Mayer, who was asked to resign in January after six years on the job. Mayer was a nationally recognized sage grouse specialist who enjoyed support from most conservationists but was criticized by livestock owners and some hunting groups.
John Carpenter, a former assemblyman from rural Elko County, said he and others lobbied the governor for Mayer’s ouster because they disagreed with his management of sage grouse and deer herd populations. Conservationists criticized his forced resignation as a signal that the state lacks commitment to keeping the sage grouse off the list of federally protected endangered species.
Eric Petlock, Nevada field representative for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, was among those who praised Wasley’s appointment Wednesday. “We’re pleased to see that Gov. Sandoval has appointed someone with so much experience in Nevada,” Petlock said. “With so many important fish and wildlife management issues in the Silver State, having Tony Wasley at the helm — who has such a broad range of experience on the issues critical to the state — will greatly benefit Nevada’s wildlife and sportsmen.”
Wasley earned a degree in biological sciences and wildlife management at California State University and a masters in biology at Idaho State. Wasley is a member of The Wildlife Society, Nevada Bighorns Unlimited and Ducks Unlimited. His research specialties include changes in historic migration patterns of mule deer.