Nevada’s killing fields

Legal killing you rarely hear about

Fred Voltz lives in Carson City and is involved in animal protection issues, retention of analog electric meters, statewide public library integration, and improving local government operations.

Our state faces an annual epidemic of legally-sanctioned killing. You might think the human murder rate in places such as Oakland and Chicago is appalling. What’s the target of Nevada’s premeditated killing? Our state’s wildlife suffers from a relatively small number of human predators. Maximizing killing opportunities trumps all other considerations. Since wildlife can’t speak, contribute to political campaigns or vote in elections, its interests are ignored.

Nevada’s wildlife belongs to all Nevadans

From a purely legal standpoint (Nevada Revised Statute 501.100), Nevada’s wildlife belongs to all Nevadans. Wildlife battle fire, drought, infrequent water sources and shelter, climate extremes, flash flooding, scarce food, human development steadily encroaching on traditional habitats, and human predators. Yet, whether you believe in evolution or some type of creation by an omnipresent force, Nevada’s wildlife existed long before humans intervened.

A complicated, ingenious food chain sustains the various wildlife species. Unfortunately, Man disrupts that chain’s natural balance with organized wildlife killing, while rarely engaging in non-lethal coexistence. Many thousands are killed annually; they are not “harvested” (a euphemism human predators use to hide the ugly reality). Wildlife species ramp up procreation to offset the gratuitous killing, but cannot effectively compete against sophisticated weaponry, GPS locators, helicopters, gasoline-powered ATVs, video cameras, drones, leghold/conibear traps, or snares. Is it “sport” or “fun” when two competitors are unequally equipped and different rules apply, or simply lopsided slaughter?

Shouldn’t Man coexist with wildlife? Shouldn’t the more than 96 percent of Nevadans without wildlife killing licenses have their opinions considered? Wildlife killers will soon be surveyed for their preferences at a minimum cost of $25,000, but we are told “there is no money” to objectively poll all Nevadans about wildlife’s fate.

Skewed agenda

Nevada’s Wildlife Commission consists of nine members appointed by the governor without legislative approval. Eight of the nine commissioners actively promote wildlife killing interests. Their serial votes confirm that statement. Five of the eight are “sportsmen,” another often-used euphemism for licensed wildlife killer. Additionally, one is a farmer, one is a rancher and finally one is a “conservationist.” However, each enthusiastically supports and holds wildlife killing licenses. That leaves just one general public representative to potentially represent wildlife protection interests. State statute bars variation from this unrepresentative construct.

Nevada’s Wildlife Department implements the Commission’s mandates. Its 243 employees further the culture of killing. “Conservation,” as defined by wildlife killers, consists of building up wildlife species’ populations so a killing season can be declared. The cycle repeats annually.

Each of Nevada’s 17 counties has locally-appointed wildlife advisory boards reporting to the Commission. All but one of those board members must have held active wildlife killing licenses for three of the last five years. Collective result: No balanced, non-killing representation.

The sordid bear situation

The Wildlife Commission approved a third consecutive bear hunt without sound reasoning, accurate numbers or credible science. Unaddressed is a principal cause of unwanted human/bear interaction: careless handling of human trash. The “best” information 15 years of public expenditures can produce is an estimate of 400 to 700 northern Nevada bears. This enormous variance disproves “bear overpopulation,” the official justification for a bear hunt.

Bears need considerable food and naturally seek out the easy sources. When humans fail to secure trash, bears will enter urban areas to find the attractive, free food.

The Wildlife Commission has publicly subsidized over $200,000 to kill 25 bears (or over $8,000 per dead bear) in two years so wildlife killers can seize trophy animals.

Leghold, conibear and snare trapping

Nevada has only 1,088 licensed trappers. Joel Blakeslee, Nevada Trappers’ Association President, recently stated trappers set up to 300 traps each. These hidden traps are effectively no different than roadside bombs planted in war zones. These traps catch wildlife by the foot, leg or snout, severely injuring and eventually killing them, while holding them powerless against the elements, other predators, and without food or water. Some wildlife eat through a limb trying to escape. Would we allow people to suffer this way?

Shockingly, unlike 33 other states which require 24-hour trap inspection intervals, Nevada trappers need inspect their traps only once each 96 hours. The Commission’s Wildlife Committee will meet on Sept. 21 to consider changes because of a legislature-required review, but the Committee’s composition overwhelmingly represents trapper/killing interests without any general public representation. In fact, Jack Robb, the Reno-based chair of the Wildlife Commission, recently appointed a licensed trapper to the Committee and refused to appoint even one non-wildlife killing, general public member.

Each trap lacks a unique registration or identifying number, just like a VIN number on a car. State statute currently prohibits such a common-sense step to determine total traps placed and accurately assign legal and financial responsibility.

And what about the collateral damage to thousands of other wildlife (referred to as “trash animals”) caught in traps? They end up thrown to the side either seriously injured or already dead; more casualties from the culture of killing that dominates state wildlife policy. Domestic companion animals (dogs, cats) caught in traps add more to the casualty count.

For just $42 a year, trappers can kill an unlimited number of our wildlife, selling it for up to $600 each.

Last year, trapping rules were revisited in the Spring Mountain/Mt. Charleston area of Clark County. Over 2 million people visit these public lands each year. One would reasonably expect no traps where so many people and companion animals recreate. Yet, the Wildlife Commission dismissed any of these safety considerations and arbitrarily established as little as a 200-foot buffer between trails and traps. An errant child, companion animal, or even a disoriented adult can easily stray in the wilderness. There have been numerous documented deaths of and serious injuries to companion animals because of inappropriately placed traps. Do we have to wait for a human death before reform occurs?

Do civilized people allow such callous treatment of its wildlife and human safety? Is trapping an appropriate activity in the 21st century, or an archaic vestige of the 19 century’s wilderness existence?

What are your values?

Wildlife Department budget statistics provided to the last Legislature prove eco-tourists seeking to view (not kill) Nevada’s wildlife in the wild generate more economic activity than the wildlife killers. Gov. Sandoval should be in the vanguard of protecting our wildlife and ensuring balanced policymaking on the Wildlife Commission he appoints. Instead, he has ignored the wholesale lack of wildlife protection and perpetuated wildlife exploitation. Is such a stance prudent leadership, or a cold calculus that defies the best interests of all Nevadans?

Does our current public policy display respect for our state’s wildlife, or only concern for how it can be exploited for personal entertainment and personal financial profit?

If you believe that Nevada’s wildlife has received a horrific deal from the people obligated to protect it, then let the governor’s wildlife advisor, Cory Hunt (, the governor’s administrative aide, Nikki Haag ( and the Wildlife Commission’s administrative liaison, Suzanne Scourby ( know you want major changes in the way your wildlife is treated. You might contact your state legislators with the same message.