Hansen bill would aid him

Assemblymember Ira Hansen of Washoe County testified last week that he could personally benefit financially from enactment of his bill to make penalties for trespass and other wildlife offenses more permissive.

Hansen said he sponsored Assembly Bill 142, which makes it more difficult to revoke trapping, fishing and hunting licenses, because the Nevada Wildlife Commission has made the penalty for trespass 12 points under its demerit system, and that can cause revocation of a license.

“That was like, no longer was I comfortable leaving a demerit system—which was in place at that point for 20 years—in the hands of regulatory people, where only five people basically could change it and put people—lose, in some cases, their livelihood,” Hansen told the Senate Natural Resources Committee. “Keep in mind that for trappers, there are many of them, including myself, are commercial trappers, we're professionals, and this is part of our livelihood. And to have your licenses revoked, and take away a person's livelihood—or an opportunity to hunt or fish or trap or whatever it is you love to do—over something that could be a very minor and unintentional act was just way beyond the pale of where this was supposed to go.”

Members of the committee did not question Hansen on the point of his trapping business.

Hansen also said, “Where is the proportional penalty? And if in fact [an] individual hasn't learned his lesson, that is where these guys [game wardens] come into play and where you can throw people into jail if necessary, fine them thousands of dollars and so forth. But those kinds of cases are extremely rare. Extremely rare.”

But game warden chief Tyler Turnipseed said the revocations that Hansen is trying to stop are also extremely rare, and that virtually no responsible sportsmen have been revoked. He said there is an annual average of 14 revocations in years during which more than 190,000 licenses are granted. That is well under a percentage point.

“It's not a matter of all these innocent spokesmen getting revoked all the time,” Turnipseed said.

A spokesperson for the Nevada Trappers Association also testified for Hansen's measure.

Hansen has long battled against state wildlife policies. As a Sparks Tribune columnist for more than a decade, he wrote at least 39 columns attacking the Nevada Department of Wildlife or its officials, though wildlife policies are set by the Legislature. He has often called for restoration of a pre-1960s arrangement in which the agency was controlled by the small counties instead of state government.