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
“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.
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
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 theincidents on this websitefor 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!
I had just two encounters with him and, of course, at this time when he has just passed, they come vividly to memory.
He promptly responded to a letter I sent him in September, 1992, complaining about Nevada’s Open Range laws which make it possible for ranchers to infringe upon private property and graze their cattle wherever they want. A lesser politician might have shot back a form letter. But Senator Reid openly shared observations on the situation and clearly saw the dilemma: while acknowledging ranchers’ need to survive and pay grazing fees, he also saw the need for reform in the light of: “. . . changes in population and expansion of populated areas. . . ” He stood ready to help and contact the BLM on my behalf. He said he sought a way to “. . . reform the grazing system without destroying the industry”. Today from the perspective of more experience, I can appreciate how frank, open and accessible he was.
My other interaction with him was a local meet and greet at which I buttonholed him and pressed upon him our TrailSafe brochures about reforming or banning commercial and/or recreational trapping on our public lands. He instantly grasped the point and said, in effect, the trappers have to get out of the 19th century mentality.
Here’s a quote from his letter to me:
“I am very concerned about the environment, as attested to by my work with the Nevada Wilderness bill, the creation of the Great Basin National Park, the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation area in southern Nevada, numerous land acquisition projects that protect sensitive areas, and my support for grazing reform.”
True to his word, here from the Las Vegas Sun Dec. 28, 2021 are but a few of the environmental victories he brought about: . . .
“Along the way, Reid’s public lands agenda helped take Nevada from 67,000 acres of wilderness to more than 4 million acres of new parks and open spaces when he left office.
“One of Reid’s first acts was establishing the Great Basin National Park — the state’s first national park — and securing other new wilderness areas in Nevada, including restoring the clarity of Lake Tahoe.”
And. . . quoting Shaaron Netherton, Executive Director of Friends of Nevada Wilderness, on behalf of the Friends Board of Directors and Staff:
“His devotion, skill and tenacity over decades led to adding sixty-nine Wilderness Areas to Nevada’s original one. He also secured protection for Great Basin National Park, the Sloan Canyon and Black Rock Desert–High Rock Canyon Emigrant Trails National Conservation Areas, the Tule Springs Fossil Beds, Gold Butte and Basin and Range National Monuments. He leaves a magnificent legacy of protected areas in Nevada for all future generations.”
Senator Harry Reid led the way for environmental protection in Nevada. He intuitively understood our love of wildlife and wild spaces; let his spirit guide and protect our efforts.
Five foot snow drift December 2021 – Courtesy Caron Tayloe
Caron Tayloe is a lifelong Washoe County resident who has been a wildlife watcher since childhood. Here she inspires us to make the most of this magical season.
Hello, Nevada Wildlife Watchers! Happy New Year to all and thank you for all you have done for wildlife in the past year. Here is to the next year of continuing old battles and the beginnings new battles at local and State levels.
One way we can get ready for these upcoming (and current) battles is by getting out to appreciate nature no matter what the weather. Sometimes being reminded what you are fighting for is quite the motivator. Wherever you are this Nevada winter it is a classic time to watch the comings and goings of wildlife. In the North many species of birds have migrated south or west but several species stay every year and show up at backyard bird feeders and roam the forests and valley landscapes for food. In addition, birds that spend summers at higher elevations have come down to the valleys for a little less weather drama. There are bird watching outings with several conservation groups and you may have to strap on those snowshoes! Deer and coyotes are prevalent in neighborhoods bordering public lands.
Getting out of the towns makes watching for the tracks of mountain lions, bobcats, elk, and antelope a fun pastime. If you are lucky you may actually see one of those glorious beings.
In the Southern part of our State there are even more opportunities for wildlife watching through conservation group participation and through the outdoor opportunities available due to a milder winter. Many species of birds stay local and some come in from the North to spend their winters in Clark, Lincoln, and the southern part of Nye counties. In Las Vegas you do not have to go very far to see all kinds of wildlife since some come from afar to settle in at the parks. If you want an amazing experience check out the Clark County Wetlands Park. What an inspiration and an opportunity to refresh yourself in nature close to home.
We wildlife watchers distinguish ourselves from the wildlife killers because we know wildlife should come first and, for us, it does. We are ethical participants, being careful not to disturb the order of things when we are out and about. Unfortunately, when it comes to making wildlife watching easier and safer, Nevada is very far behind other states, so wildlife watchers must take care when out on public lands. Trapping of some furbearer mammals exists year ‘round but trapping is especially prevalent this time of the year since furbearer coats are thicker, and the State allows for other species like bobcats to be trapped. What to do if you come across a trap, or worse, an animal in a trap, is a subject for another article. In the meantime; be aware of your surroundings and the limitations of your vehicle, wear layers, and bring water.