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Fawn recruitment leads to increased deer quotas for 2010



With excellent game surveys, good precipitation, and increasing populations of deer, antelope and elk, the Nevada Board of Wildlife Commissioners approved the allocation of 19,943 big game tags statewide at its May 14-15 meeting in Reno, which included a 9% increase in resident mule deer buck tags, and a 10% increase in bull elk tags.

Nevada Department of Wildlife Director Ken Mayer credited Governor Jim Gibbons, and his efforts to focus management actions on mule deer for the increases.

“When Gov. Gibbons hired me,” said Mayer, “he told me that my number one priority was bringing back Nevada’s mule deer herd.  NDOW has continued an aggressive habitat restoration and improvement program, which with the help of increased moisture on the range, is starting to pay off.”

Within the tag allocation the commission approved separate tag quotas for mule deer, elk, bighorn sheep, antelope, and mountain goat. Overall the 2010 tag allocation included a 9% increase in resident mule deer buck rifle tags, with 800 more tags. The wildlife commission voted to approve a resident statewide quota of 9,326 antlered buck rifle tags.

In 2010, Nevada witnessed a mule deer population increase in over 56% of its deer management units. The single largest increase occurred in Area 6 of Elko County, where ideal summer range conditions and a mild winter allowed for the addition of 800 animals, a 12% growth.  Twenty years of aggressive restoration efforts of crucial deer winter ranges in Area 6, combined with excellent spring precipitation, contributed to the best fawn recruitment in 10 years.

Fawn recruitment is the number of fawns that survive their first winter, at which time they are considered a permanent part of the herd.  The fawn recruitment for the 2009/2010 winter was 34 fawns per 100 does, up from the previous year’s 27 fawns per 100 does, and just below the long-term statewide average of 35 fawns per 100 does.

“The deer went into the winter in good body condition due to above average precipitation and better range conditions,” explained Larry Gilbertson, Game Division Chief for NDOW.  “Combine that with relatively average winter conditions in many areas and the stage was set for increased recruitment due to fawn survival.”

Elk are also thriving.  Much of eastern Nevada’s shrub landscape has shifted to grass lands benefitting elk, as a result of 20 years of fires. The Wildlife Commission approved a

10% increase in bull elk rifle tags, with 801 tags, 74 more than last year, and a 20% increase in bull elk muzzleloader tags, along with a 22% increase in both the cow elk rifle and archery tags.

Many other big game species saw significant increases in tag quotas as well.  The only species with declines were the Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep Hunt 9151, which saw a decrease due to the major disease event in the Ruby Mountains and East Humboldt Range, and the Mountain Goat Hunt 7151 due to the same disease event.

Antelope have fared exceptionally well in much of Nevada, and the Commission responded by approving 10% more antelope buck tags, and 200% more doe antelope (or young male) tags.

The Resident Nelson (Desert) Bighorn Sheep – Any Ram – Any Legal Weapon Hunt 3151 saw an increase of 12% with 21 more tags.

“All in all, this year should be a good year for hunters with increased opportunity,” said Gilbertson.  “With this year’s moderate winter and good spring moisture, range conditions should be good and the animals should be in good body condition with decent antler growth.”

The Nevada Department of Wildlife is the state agency responsible for the restoration, protection and management of fish and wildlife resources, and the promotion of boating safety on Nevada’s waters.  Wildlife offices are located in Las Vegas, Henderson, Winnemucca, Fallon, Elko, and Reno. For more information, contact the agency web site at www.ndow.org.

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