With the summer season soon upon us, Nevada Department of Wildlife is reminding everyone that when Nevada catches fire, wildlife feel the heat.
Over the last 10 years, fires have destroyed over 7.5 million acres of sagebrush and other wildlife habitat in Nevada. In the northeast area of the state, in the big game management unit known as Area 6, over 90% of the deer winter ranges have been destroyed. An area that supported close to 30,000 deer in the 1960s now can only support 5,000-6,000 deer.
Other wildlife has also been adversely impacted. Over the last two years, 84% of the sage grouse mating grounds (called leks) have been burnt in the Tuscarora region of north-central Nevada. These fires diminished or destroyed habitat for 7,000 sage grouse.
Other affected wildlife includes pygmy rabbits, burrowing owls, sage thrashers, loggerhead shrikes, many rodents and raptors, and the predators that depend on them.
The Nevada Department of Wildlife continues to partner with our constituents and federal land managers such as the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service to rehabilitate some of the lost habitat. An emergency wildfire disaster fund has been established by the Reno Chapter of Nevada Bighorns Unlimited to gather money for use in wildlife rehabilitation efforts. In 2007 alone, NDOW spent $1.5 million to rehabilitate 40,000 acres, less than 1% of the lost habitat. Even though the number of rehabilitated acres are a small percentage of the total burned, these areas represent some of the most crucial habitat that existed prior to burning.
NDOW urges everyone to be fire safe when using our public lands. Watch where you park as hot exhaust systems often spark wildfires. Find a bare spot of ground to park your hunting truck or fishing rig. Crush out cigarettes. Check local regulations before you make a campfire, and if you make one, keep it small and manageable.
Please help stop wildfires before they start. Wildlife will thank you.
The Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) protects, restores and manages fish and wildlife, promotes fishing, hunting, and boating safety. NDOW's wildlife and habitat conservation efforts are primarily funded by sportsmen's license and conservation fees and a federal surcharge on hunting and fishing gear. Support wildlife and habitat conservation in Nevada by purchasing a hunting, fishing, or combination license. For more information, visit www.ndow.org.