By Donald A. Molde, M.D. 

“I’m just a long-time wildlife advocate, now convinced that our wildlife management system is badly in need of reform so that trapping abuses can be curtailed. Wildlife management needs to be more democratic and friendly to all wildlife. The wildlife commission’s ‘war on predators’ needs to stop.

“I have several long-standing concerns about mountain lion management in Nevada.” 

About 1975, one of the two Reno newspapers ran a front-page story about a man who killed a mountain lion on Mount Rose.  A photo was included, showing the dead lion draped sideways over the hood of the car with the beer-bellied hunter standing in front.  The caption said (if memory serves) that there were only 39 mountain lions remaining in Nevada.

The photo and story alarmed me.  I checked to see where I could go to express my concern about this story.  I found out that the Nevada Department of Fish and Game was the state agency charged with wildlife management in Nevada.  Coincidentally, the Nevada Fish and Game Commission was meeting in Reno soon after the story appeared.

I found the agency, appeared at the front desk, and asked for the location of the commission meeting.  I was escorted into a small room with maybe a dozen men sitting round a table. 

After momentarily interrupting their meeting, I was asked my name and the reason for my visit.  I showed them the photo I’d clipped from the paper and expressed my concern…. nay, my outrage at the story.  I was quickly advised by the agency director that the story was wrong.   He said there were 750 mountain lions in Nevada.

After expressing relief at that news, I inquired as to the source of that number.  I was told a mountain lion hunter told them so!

The agency had hired a mountain lion hunter living in Northern Nevada to advise it about Nevada’s lion population.  The lion hunter, a convicted poacher, knew of about 30 lions living along the Sierra Front which he regularly chased with his dogs.

He then sat down with topographic maps of the entire state, looked at elevation contours, and marked an X at every spot he thought a lion might be living.  Adding all the X markings to the 30 lions he already knew about……presto!  An answer.

Nevada has 750 mountain lions.  Who knew???

When I heard that account, it alarmed me as much as the original story in the newspaper.  Is this the way wildlife is managed in Nevada?  Is the Fox truly in charge of the Henhouse??

That event started me on my path of wildlife advocacy in Nevada, now some 45 years in duration.

Parenthetically, over the years since then, the mountain lion population in Nevada, estimated by the Nevada Department of Wildlife, has varied from 350 up to 5000! 

The last estimate, produced for a wildlife commission meeting in 2014, was about 1400 animals.

Currently, the department makes no estimate of the lion population.

Killing Isn’t Conservation

Killing Isn’t Conservation

Stephanie Myers, former trial consultant, ballerina and teacher, is now retired allowing her long-time wildlife advocacy, spurred by her golden retriever’s severe injury after being caught in a leghold trap.

Stephanie shares impressions from two nights of protests at Mandalay Bay. Protest signs provided by CompasssionWorks International.

About two dozen protesters stood in front of Mandalay Bay Resort on the Las Vegas Strip to rally against the Safari Club International conference this past week (Jan 19 – 22).  Some conventioneers were disgruntled with our presence.  One taxi slowed down so the passenger could tell me, as I held a sign featuring a lion and the words ‘Trophy Hunting is a Crime Against Nature’ and ‘Killing Isn’t Conservation’, “Don’t you know that Cecil’s hunter paid $500,000…That’s conservation!,” and sped way as I retorted, “Oh, there’s a price tag on a life?”  Another walked by and kept repeating, “Get educated, you don’t know what you are talking about!  If you don’t have a hunting license, you are not conserving wildlife!”  These men and others stubbornly insist that the only conservation happening is through money paid to hunt wildlife. 

But there were even more passers-by who raised their thumbs and honked their horns in solidarity with our message.

Law enforcement, with lights swirling, was with us, mostly Friday night when Don Trump, Jr. addressed the meeting attendees.  The officers stated that they were there for our safety and protection.

Next year’s convention is in Nashville.

Gruesome stuff for sale at SCI Convention. Safari Club International holds a convention every year celebrating kills, despite a global biodiversity crisis. Credit: Humane Society of the United States
Grace and Connection

Grace and Connection

By Carol Garlington, Wildlife Watcher

The flicker was eating from the suet when I tromped through knee high snow to scatter seed to the sparrows and quail. I tried to be quick and not look directly at him. I didn’t want to disturb his meal. In previous encounters, I’d had only seconds to appreciate the gorgeous black bow tie like feathers on his chest, the bright orange under his wings, the power of his long thin bill which can drive into trees – before he would sense me and fly away. Had I realized he was eating, I would have waited to take food to the other birds.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw huge wings flap but a bird going nowhere. I turned to face the frantic flicker, his foot caught in the ornament to which the suet cage was attached. Crying “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry,” I struggled across the snow to help him. He relaxed his powerful body into my hands and met my eyes as I figured out how his bleeding foot was trapped and worked to free it without causing further injury. Blood and tears dripped into the snow. Finally, I was able to set him down on a drift. He waited an instant before spreading his wings and taking off in flight.

I texted our flicker-loving neighbor to watch out for an injured bird. I moved the suet to a safer location. Thoughts turned to people who trap animals and birds on purpose. I grabbed the snow shovel and started digging and sobbing both from relief at seeing him fly and anger that we are in the midst of trapping season. There was enough snow with more coming down sideways from the wind to keep me shoveling for a couple of hours.

Normally, all birds would have avoided such noise and activity but not that day. First one flicker flew to the tree above my head and kept me company. Two more came and tried to feed simultaneiously from the safely placed suet A fourth flicker flew to the edge of a flowerpot, waiting her turn to eat. I don’t know if the bird who had let me free him was one of them but I hope so.

Years ago, we once assisted a water-logged dragon-fly to dry off his wings. By the time the rains stopped, he was able to fly. Hours later, a thousand dragon-flies landed on us, covering our bodies for a few moments before disappearing in the sky. The flickers’ surrounding me while I worked brought back that memory of grace and connection. If everyone could feel this, purposely set traps would disappear.

Incidental Trapping of Mountain Lions

Incidental Trapping of Mountain Lions

By Donald A. Molde, M.D. 

“I’m just a long-time wildlife advocate, now convinced that our wildlife management system is badly in need of reform so that trapping abuses can be curtailed. Wildlife management needs to be more democratic and friendly to all wildlife. The wildlife commission’s ‘war on predators’ needs to stop.

“I have several long-standing concerns about mountain lion management in Nevada.” 

We know from the work of Alyson Andreasen, Ph.D. during the past decade, Nevada Department of Wildlife’s (NDOW’s) Project 36 and its successor, Project LIFT, that lions continue to be adversely impacted by incidental trapping of the animal during trapping season.  

We know from hunter ‘harvest’ data and Geographic Information System  (GIS) analysis that such incidental trapping occurs all around the state. 

Significant injury, death from starvation and near-decapitation from snares have been well documented by NDOW staff with many dozen photos and other information. Yet, I know of no effort by NDOW to correct this situation.  

How a valuable game species can continue to be subjected to this mistreatment without mitigation efforts by the agency is another embarrassment to be endured by those of us who are concerned about treatment of the animal.

Photos credit: Nevada Department of Wildlife

No winter break for “furbearers”

No winter break for “furbearers”

The trees sparkle with pogonip, we ski, we snowshoe, we take photos of the glories of winter. . . not so much of a festival for the beings on this list! The Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) and the entire system that supports and defends the heinous practice of trapping, declares these species and these dates as appropriate for crushing bones in traps; strangling; drowning; slowly dying; being held helpless while freezing, starving, thirsty, desperate and terrified.

Furbearing Animals – Source: Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) Upland Game and Furbearer Seasons

Beaver, Mink and Muskrat: Oct 1 – April 30
Otter: October 1 – March 31 [Carson City, Churchill, Clark, Douglas, Esmeralda, Lincoln, Lyon, Mineral, Nye, Storey, Washoe and White Pine counties are closed to otter trapping.   If an otter is accidentally trapped or killed in those counties which are closed or outside the prescribed season, the person trapping or killing it shall report the trapping or killing within 48 hours to a representative of the Department of Wildlife. The animal must be disposed of in accordance with the instructions of the representative.]
Kit and Red Fox: October 1 – last day of February
Bobcat season: Statewide Second Saturday in November – Third Sunday in February
Gray Fox Season Statewide: Second Saturday in November – Third Sunday in February

The mayhem is not limited to these animals. The Nevada Trappers Association keeps records of the annual Fallon fur sales. The latest record available, 2020, lists 14 species whose pelts were skinned from their bodies and sold for the recorded prices. This February will be the 2022 sale. In previous years there were several other species’ pelts for sale besides those listed here.

Nevada Trappers Association Fallon Fur Sale Results
February 29, March 1, 2020

SpeciesQuantity SoldAverage PricePercent SoldHigh Lot
Cross Fox1$51.00100%$51.00
Gray Fox330$16.08100%$20.40
Kit Fox110$11.55100%$15.17
Red Fox19$17.83100%$23.77
Striped Skunk10$9.61100%$10.57
Castor (lbs.)13.8$72.72100%$75.33

This means one should be vigilant and careful when hiking, especially in the back country, and especially at this time of year. Traps could be set anywhere. Some trappers will attach a shiny attractant such as foil, to lure bobcats. Traps could be hidden under snow. Some traplines run for long distances, with as many as a hundred traps. See the incidents on this website for the variety of horror stories shared with TrailSafe Nevada over the years.

It’s our earnest and heartfelt hope that none of this happens to you or your companion animals. If you do have any bad luck trap experiences, please notify us! As far as we know, NDOW does not keep similar records. In fact, nobody else in Nevada does! So please send us your story! If your traumatic encounter was in the past, that is also helpful for the record, and we hope you share it with us.

Be safe, enjoy these precious brief invigorating winter days, and Happy New Year to all!

And please feel free to download these informational brochures and share them with others!