GOOD AND BAD
Winter could bring some losses, gains
Nevada Department of Wildlife game biologists are grateful for the heavy precipitation from the recent winter storms that dropped much needed snow on some very dry habitat. After three years of drought conditions and wildfires, the snow and rain may help nurse some of the Silver State’s struggling habitat back to health, provided that the storms continue to come. On the other hand, many of Nevada’s animals were in poor condition going into winter, and severe weather conditions may take a significant toll.
In Western Nevada, a dry year and record high temperatures have left big game populations on dry feed in many ranges for over a year. Current “green-up” from December precipitation has chukar and deer taking advantage, although this usually does not occur until spring when wildlife is still on winter range without a good shrub component in their diet. If the region receives an unusually heavy snow, higher than normal deer losses should be expected. In the central part of the state, dry conditions have left game in poor overall body condition, reflected by relatively low reproduction. Given their condition and the lack of quality forage, even an average winter could result in higher mortality for many species. For the same reasons, NDOW biologists are concerned that reproduction may be poor next spring.
It’s a mixed bag in Southern Nevada. Pronghorn antelope are expected to fare the worst, as their habitat is in the poorest condition. Desert bighorn sheep habitat appears to be moderate throughout most of southeastern Nevada. Although there is wide variability, mule deer habitat appears to be in moderate to good condition, depending on the area. Elk habitat appears good in general. If the southeastern part of the state receives heavy snowfall this year, expect low numbers of young to survive the winter.
LEARN SOMETHING NEW
Free fly-fishing class scheduled
The Nevada Department of Wildlife will be having a free fly-fishing class on Feb. 2.
This introductory course is set up in two parts. The first part will begin at 8 a.m. in the conference room at the NDOW office located at 4747 Vegas Drive, just east of Decatur Boulevard. The second portion is a hands-on learning experience and will take place at Floyd Lamb Park beginning at noon.
The class will cover basics such as knot-tying, terminology, essential equipment and casting skills. For more information and registration, contact Ivy Santee, (702) 486-5127, ext. 3503. Registration begins Tuesday.
Quagga mussels still a problem
It was one year ago that quagga mussels, an invasive species that originates in the Caspian Sea area of Eastern Europe, were discovered in the lower Colorado River system. Though the original discovery was made at Lake Mead, the diminutive mollusk has since been found in Lake Powell, Lake Mohave, Lake Havasu and Arizona’s Lake Pleasant — all significant waterways for recreational boaters.
Mussels have also been found in the Colorado River Aqueduct that supplies water to the Los Angeles Metropolitan Water District, the Central Arizona Project canal, which carries water from Lake Havasu to Lake Pleasant just north of Phoenix, and in several Southern California waters.
Though they are not much bigger than a fingernail, quagga mussels and their cousin the zebra mussel, generally settle in massive colonies that block water intakes and disrupt power plant and other industrial operations dependent on water.
Boaters won’t go unscathed. These mussels can also clog water intakes and other systems on recreational boats. If they colonize heavy enough on the hull, mussels can affect a vessel’s performance in the water.
In Nevada, quagga mussels have not yet been found outside of the Colorado River system, but that brings little comfort to fisheries biologists like NDOW’s Jon Sjoberg, who is concerned that the mussels could be transported to other waters in the state.
History has shown quagga mussels and their cousin the zebra mussel move between waters by hitching rides on boats, boat trailers and other equipment that spends time in the water.
This includes canoes, float tubes, waders, swimming gear and even fishing line.
When removing a boat from Lake Mead, or any other water, NDOW recommends that boaters do the following:
• Drain the water from your motor, live well and bilge on land before leaving the immediate area of the lake.
• Flush the motor and bilges with hot, soapy water.
• Completely inspect your vessel and trailer, removing any visual mussels or plant matter. Also feel for any rough or gritty spots on the hull. These may be young mussels that can be difficult to see.
• Wash the hull, equipment, bilge and any other exposed surface with hot, soapy water.
• Clean and wash your trailer, truck or any other equipment that touches the lake water. Mussels can live in small pockets where water collects.
• Air-dry the boat and other equipment for at least five days before launching in any other waterway.
• Do not reuse bait once it has been exposed to infested waters.