NDOW Projects 14 & 15: Coyote removal for deer enhancement

Projects 14 & 15, 2/9/2009
C. Schroeder and K. Lansford

We quantified the effects of 5 years of coyote removal in Game Management Units 222 and 231, Lincoln Co., NV during fiscal years (FY) 2003-2008. We summarized trends in coyote age and population structure using data obtained from tooth-age analysis (cementum) of teeth taken from harvested coyotes by Wildlife Services. Mean age of coyotes declined throughout the experimental period in GMU 231 as a result of additively removing coyotes by aerial gunning and ground removals each year. Also, juvenile to adult ratios significantly increased by the end of the experimental period as well as the number of adult males to adult females in the population. Fawn:doe and fawn:adult ratios were not significantly different in years prior to coyote removal compared to years following coyote removal in the experimental areas. Similarly, fawn:doe and fawn:adult ratios were not significantly different in the experimental area (GMU’s 222 and 231) compared to an adjacent population of mule deer in Utah (Unit 30a) during the same period. Other factors may have contributed to fawn survival in these areas.

ClickNDoW Coyote Removal for Deer Enhancementfor the entire study.

Wildlife and Mining in Nevada

Wildlife & Mining in Nevada
Mark E. Smith , Incline Village, NV

“Any resource extraction by definition impacts the environment. However, it is the manner in which these activities are carried out that is crucial in minimizing adverse effects.” (Nevada Mining Assoc, 2010)

The mining industry has made great strides in reducing impacts and there is now great focus on quantification, minimization and mitigation of water, air and social impacts. However, the same is not true for impacts to wildlife. While some companies are excellent stewards, the industry as a whole mostly pays this lip service. There is also a lack of support in the regulatory process. For example, here is the relevant portion of Nevada’s Code governing “Revegetation of land” (NAC 519A.330):
1.  An operator shall:
(a) Select and establish species of plants that will result in vegetation productivity comparable to that growing on the affected lands before commencement of the exploration project or mining operation, which is required by the manager of the land or which is consistent with the postmining use of the land.

How exactly are we supposed to return waste dump slopes, tailings ponds and open pits to “productivity comparable to….before….mining?” The reality is that both industry and regulators broadly ignore this requirement. Further, simple productivity, in terms of density and type of vegetation, is only one factor affecting wildlife. Far more important is the impact our facilities have to the broader habitat, including biodiversity and migration. For example, the Nevada Department of Wildlife has estimated that a recently proposed mine will cut off the migratory route for 23% of Nevada’s deer population, yet the environmental impact statement filed with the US BLM neither addresses loss of economic value nor provides any meaningful mitigations.

While the gold industry has made good progress in protecting wildlife from process ponds, but other mineral processing broadly ignores these impacts. The lithium plant near Silver Peak includes 4,000 acres of ponds. For 2012, the Dept of Wildlife estimates as many as 1,000 migratory birds have been killed, principally ducks and loons. These deaths are caused by salt crystals forming on feathers and legs, a process which happens in a matter of hours and leaves the bird to a slow drowning. There is a similar sized potash plant in New Mexico, which uses 15 hazers and 3 airboats to reduce mortality. The Silver Peak plant uses 2 hazers and no boats. Even after a $70,000 fine by US Wildlife Services, one of the largest ever in Nevada, they have yet to make any improvement…

Click HERE for the entire paper.

Trapping Incident Reports from TrailSafe

TrailSafe has assembled a database of reports made detailing the trapping of HUMANS and PETS.   In summary, the incident reports reflect:

–1 hiker caught in a snare trap at a popular local attraction

–3 incidents where people narrowly missed being trapped, including 1 small CHILD

–63 pet dogs & 9 cats trapped, plus 2 reported as near misses

–26 trappings or crippled animals sightings in urban/suburban areas

–6 reports of traps set on private property without the land owner’s permission

–12 pleas for trapping regulations without specific reports of injuries

–6 reports of wild animals maimed, trying to chew their way out of the traps, or dragging traps into peoples yards in urban/suburban areas


Follow this link for the detailed incident reports collected by TrailSafe.

Unintended victims

A key problem with any kind of trap is the lack of discrimination. For every intended victim (“target” animal) of the traps, there are 2 to 10 unintended victims: birds, porcupines, deer, cats, dogs and other animals are caught, maimed and killed in traps.  Even animals listed under the Endangered Species Act are caught and killed. In the industry, these unintended victims are referred to as “trash” animals.  Our wildlife agencies call them “non target” species.  There have also been cases where children were caught in these traps.  Worldwide, about 10 MILLION animals are trapped annually.

Within the first 30 minutes of capture, a trapped animal can tear her flesh, rip tendons, break bones, and even knock out teeth as she bites the trap to escape. Before Sweden banned leg hold traps their government carried out a trapping campaign against foxes. Of the 645 foxes that were trapped, 514 were considered seriously injured. The trapped foxes had struggled desperately to get free, and over 200 of them had knocked out teeth. Some of the foxes had even knocked out 18 teeth as they bit the trap trying to escape. Some animals will even bite off their own limbs in a desperate attempt to escape. The fact that an animal would severe her own limb shows how horrible the experience of being caught in a leg hold trap is. A study in Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge found that 27.6 percent of mink, 24 percent of raccoon, and 26 percent of trapped fox would actually bite their limbs off in hopes of surviving. In many cases the animals died from blood loss, infection, and inability to hunt with an amputated limb. This study was carried out over a 4 year period, and involved many trappers with varying degrees of skill. Therefore, these percentages are fairly indicative of what happens with the various species targeted by Nevada trappers. Another study, conducted in 1980, found that 37 percent of raccoons mutilated themselves when caught in a leg hold trap.

All but two of the U.S. states require traps to be checked in intervals shorter than Nevada’s 96 hours (some states require daily trap checking). Several U.S. states and 88 countries have banned the steel-jawed leg hold trap, which is notorious for its cruelty especially when trappers don’t visit their traps for days or weeks at a time. Many trappers now get around this ban by using other types of traps, including snare traps, conibear traps or leg hold traps with a thin layer of padding added. Once the trapper finds the captured animal, if the animal is still alive, the trapper will usually club or stomp the animal to death. Shooting is not as popular because the trapper would risk damaging the pelt.

Trapping Facts & Statistics

Total Trapping Licenses sold in the U.S. in 1997-98: 130,400

Top Five Species Trapped in the U.S. (1997-98) *

Raccoon … ~2,097,000
Muskrat … ~1,993,000
Nutria … ~398,000
Beaver … ~295,000
Opossum … ~234,000

Select List of Other Species Trapped in the U.S. (1997-98) *

Mink … ~164,000
Coyote … ~159,000
Red Fox … ~139,000
Otter … ~25,500
Gray Wolf … ~1,280

*Figures may include animals killed by means other than trapping due to poor record keeping by agencies and trappers.

Number of animals used to make an average length fur coat:
Badger 20 | Mink (Ranch) 60
Beaver 15 | Otter 14
Bobcat 15 | Rabbit 30
Chinchilla 100 | Raccoon 27
Coyote 16 | Red Fox 18
Ermine 125 | Sable 40
Lynx 11 | Silver Fox 11

Myth: Trapping is humane and selective

Despite what trappers would have you believe, animals frequently sustain severe injuries from being trapped. When not killed outright by the trap, animals can suffer physiological trauma, dehydration, exposure to severe weather, and predation by other animals until the trapper returns – which can be days or even weeks between trap checks. When the trapper returns he usually clubs, suffocates or strangles the animal to death. Fur trappers rarely shoot trapped animals because bullet holes and blood reduce a pelt’s value.

Traps set in or near water are designed to drown aquatic mammals, which can take up to 20 minutes for some species. The American Veterinary Medical Association deems drowning to be inhumane and a 1999 study concluded “drowning cannot be considered euthanasia.”

Most traps are notoriously indiscriminate, capturing almost any animal that triggers them. Sometimes called “trash” animals by trappers, non-target species that have been found in traps include threatened and endangered species, raptors, DOMESTIC DOGS and CATS, and even HUMANS. These animals can sustain the same injuries as target species. Even if released, they may perish later from internal injuries or reduced ability to hunt or forage for food.

The most commonly used trap in the U.S. is the steel-jaw leghold trap, a restraining trap with spring-loaded steel jaws that clamp on an animal’s foot or leg when triggered. Leghold traps can cause severe swelling, lacerations, joint dislocations, fractures, damage to teeth and gums, self-mutilation, limb amputation, and often a slow, painful death. The steel-jaw leghold trap has been declared inhumane by the American Veterinary Medical Association, the American Animal Hospital Association, and the National Animal Control Association, and has been banned or severely restricted by more than 80 countries and 8 U.S. states.

Dick Randall, a former federal trapper, told Congress, “My trapping records show that for each target animal I trapped, about two unwanted individuals were caught. Because of trap injuries, these nontarget animals had to be destroyed.” Nontarget animals – including pets – comprised 76% of all animals captured in leghold traps in a 1981 study.

Historically, poorly regulated trapping almost wiped out beaver, sea otter, lynx, wolverine, cougar and other species in many areas of the U.S. Today, some state wildlife management agencies continue to allow the trapping of highly sensitive species, including wolverine, fisher, marten, kit fox, and lynx. For example, while the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) considered listing the Canada lynx under the Endangered Species Act, Montana continued to allow lynx to be commercially trapped — even when a 1999 U.S. Forest Service report concluded, “Lynx appear to be extremely susceptible to trapping, and where trapping is permitted it can be (and has been) a significant source of mortality.” Unfortunately, because population modeling and furbearer data collection are so poor in many states, we do not know the impact trapping has on sensitive species — often until it is too late.

Wildlife Conservation & Management Funding in the U.S.

Wildlife Conservation & Management Funding in the U.S.

By Mark E. Smith and Donald A. Molde

October 2014


The authors present a novel approach to help answer the question “Who really pays for wildlife in the U.S?” Using public information about budgets of various conservation, wildlife advocacy, and land management agencies and non-profit organizations, published studies and educated assumptions regarding sources of Pittman-Robertson Act and Dingle-Johnson Act federal excise monies from the sale of sporting equipment, the authors contend that approximately 95% of federal, 88% of non-profit, and 94% of total funding for wildlife conservation and management come from the non-hunting public. The authors further contend that a proper understanding and accurate public perception of this funding question is a necessary next step in furthering the current debate as to whether and how much influence the general public should have at the wildlife policy-making level, particularly within state wildlife agencies.

Read the full paper here.

The Pittman-Robertson & Dingell-Johnston Acts: from where does the money come?

Many state wildlife agencies including the Nevada Dept. of Wildlife get a majority of their funding from federal tax transfers and grants. Most of that money comes from two federal excise tax programs commonly known as the Pittman-Robertson Act (PRA) and the Dingell-Johnston Act (DJA). Sportsmen and wildlife agencies, including our very own NDoW, often claim that this money is principally hunter-generated. As it turns out, that’s demonstrably untrue.

In 2013 the PRA generated 59% of the combined excise tax revenue and the DJA 41%. Here’s the breakdown of revenue (as percentages) by category of activity, according to ATF and USDFW figures:

  • 28% from motorboat & small engine fuel
  • 22% from rifles & shotguns
  • 18% from pistols and revolvers
  • 18% from ammunition
  • 7% from import duties on boats & interest on trust fund deposits
  • 7% from fishing equipment, tackle, trolling motors & archery equipment

Trapping Myth No. 8: Man is a predator

Many trappers take pride in outfoxing the foxes, outwitting the coyotes, and will tell you predatory humans are just part of the natural order.   But there’s nothing natural about steel leg-hold traps or letting an animal suffer for days or weeks while the trapper watches TV in his heated home.  Most importantly, man is what he chooses to be. Man can choose to be humane.

Wildlife Funding & Entitlements

Continuing with our educational snippets, two entities that in my eyes are good candidates for elimination as unnecessary in this day and age are the Nevada Board of Wildlife Commissioners and the County Advisory Boards to Manage Wildlife. They are a product of decades ago….an unfortunate historical “accident”…when lawmakers thought it would be a good idea to make wildllfe management a user-fee based system, thereby eliminating the need to provide general fund tax dollars to fish and game agencies. While that idea may have had merit, given the tenor and nature of the times, it is now, in my view, more trouble that it is worth. Sportsmen….and their hunting license purchases…are in the decline over past decades. Funding for fish and game agencies comes increasingly from other sources (at least here in Nevada). Sportsmen license and tag sales provide…maybe..30% or so of the annual budget of the Nevada Department of Wildlife. We’ll discuss other sources of funding later.

The problem this system has produced is a sense of “entitlement” among some sportsmen who overlook the fact that wildlife is a public asset (see NRS 501.100) and appear to favor the view that they “pay” for wildlife. Therefore they are “entitled” to be in charge…as they are with 5 of the 9 seats on the wildlife commission designated for them, 2 more for a rancher and farmer who are mostly indistinguishable from sportsmen at least as to their votes on issues of concern to us. That leaves 1 seat for a member of the General Public which, until a couple of years ago, had always been filled by a sportsman or sympathizer, and a “conservationist”. Not very “democratic” and in violation of one of the sacred “Sisters” of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation which sportsmen like to tout.