Out in the wild

Conservation activists are concerned about the pressured resignation of Nevada Department of Wildlife director Ken Mayer and the impact the decision will have on sage grouse protection. Mayer was an advocate for the endangered status of the sage grouse, and many fear his absence will take sage grouse conservation off of the state’s agenda.

Mayer’s resignation comes after several months of an organized effort, headed by former Nevada assemblyman John Carpenter, calling for him to step down, on the grounds that “he was responsible for a decline in deer herds and paying too much attention to sage grouse,” wrote the environmental publication Wildlife News.

But “the true cause of deer decline and sage grouse in Nevada [is] well known,” Wildlife News continues. “It’s the huge range fires that are sweeping the state. They are cased by the cheat grass spread mostly by cattle grazing and hotter, longer summer conditions (climate change).” Several studies on the region have come to the same conclusion.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has until fall 2015 to make a decision on assigning endangered status to the sage grouse. Mayer’s departure is effective as of Feb. 12. Gov. Brian Sandoval will appoint the successor to Mayer.