State solicits Wildlife Service to do what it does best – slaughter wildlife
When wildlife like elk or deer numbers decline, that is usually indicative of something. Often it can be a temporary decline – a response to a natural event such as a fire, drought, or really cold winter – the natural ebb and flow of things. Sometimes it’s symptomatic of something else, like diminishing habitat or a game department that issued too many tags in a region. Mostly, it’s likely a combination of many variables.
Whatever the reasons, one gets the lion’s share of the blame – and the retribution. Predators are the proverbial ‘whipping-boy’ of wildlife managers (and livestock producers). Much like the irrational management that is promised for wolves in Idaho, cougars are subjected to political decisions made by state wildlife managers. And when state managers decide to abate hunter’s competition, they call Wildlife Services.
Unfortunately, it is often more politically expedient to call for ‘control’ of wildlife that competes with hunters than to restrict the number of tags issued to hunters – by far the largest variable reducing elk and deer numbers – or to call for the patience it takes to put a decent amount of resource into habitat restoration – whether active or passive (passive restoration involves removing human causes of habitat degradation – such as livestock grazing, ORV access, fencing, etc.).
The Nevada Board of Wildlife Commissioners told agency staff last week to employ the help of sport hunters and contract employees from the U.S. Agriculture Department’s Wildlife Services for the state wildlife department’s new “program of intensive, sustained predator reduction.”