Sportsmen, wildlife, off-highway vehicles could face new laws

A special meeting of the Clark County Advisory Board to Manage Wildlife will take place at 2 p.m. Saturday to discuss pending legislation that could affect sportsmen, off-highway vehicle enthusiasts and Nevada’s wildlife. The meeting will be in the Pueblo Room of the Clark County Government Center, 500 Grand Central Parkway.

Other county advisory boards to manage wildlife around the state have scheduled similar meetings, which are open to the public.

Following their meetings, the advisory boards will forward their comments and recommendations to the state Board of Wildlife Commissioners, whose members will discuss the legislation and the boards’ input via telephone at 9 a.m. Monday. The public can participate at Nevada Department of Wildlife offices in Reno, Elko and Las Vegas.

A complete list of the 16 bills on the commission’s agenda is available online at www.ndow.org. Among those scheduled for discussion are Assembly Bills 183, 241, 246, 362 and 437, along with Senate Bill 394.

Assembly Bill 246 calls for the creation of an apprentice hunting license that would allow individuals who have not hunted before to test drive the hunting experience without having to complete a Hunter Education course or purchase a hunting license. The apprentice license would be free of charge. But an experienced mentor hunter who is at least 18 years old and has a Nevada hunting license must be present. The apprentice license would not be valid for hunting any animal that requires a tag.

To qualify for the apprentice license, the prospective hunter must be 12 years of age or older and not previously had a hunting license in Nevada or elsewhere. Several states, including Arizona, have similar license options.

If passed, Assembly Bills 183 and 437 will authorize the Wildlife Commission to establish two new classifications of big-game tags known as the “Silver State Tag” and “Dream Tags.” The Silver State Tag would be available through an additional drawing with an application fee of no less than $15 and no more than $50. Based on the proposed language in A.B. 183, it is my understanding that this tag would provide a hunting opportunity similar to those of the Heritage Tags that are made available through auctions sponsored by conservation organizations like the Mule Deer Foundation.

A.B. 437 requires the commission “to establish a program for the issuance of additional big-game tags” that could be sold by NDOW to a qualifying nonprofit organization, which then could resell the tags through “direct sale, raffle, lottery or any other lawful means.” Money received by NDOW through Dream Tag sales would have to be used to benefit charitable or nonprofit activities in Nevada. Money generated by a nonprofit organization’s resale of Dream Tags would have to be used specifically for the benefit of Nevada’s wildlife and its habitat.

Off-highway vehicles in all their variety are the subject of Senate Bill 394, which calls for the titling and annual registration of OHVs with the Department of Motor Vehicles. A portion of the money generated through the titling and registration process would go to The Fund for Off-highway Vehicles, which would be used only for projects related to OHVs. The bill also calls for the establishment of the Commission of Off-highway Vehicles that would oversee the distribution of grants from that fund.

Assembly Bills 241 and 362 require a portion of the money expended from the Wildlife Heritage Trust account, and the funds generated through collection of the $3 predator fee charged to each big-game tag applicant, be used for predator control projects benefiting only mule deer.

Freelance writer Doug Nielsen is a conservation educator for the Nevada Department of Wildlife. His “In the Outdoors” column, published Thursday in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, is not affiliated with or endorsed by the NDOW. Any opinions he states in his column are his own. He can be reached at doug@takinitoutside.com.

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