Mountain lions killing lots of deer |

Mountain lions killing lots of deer

by Jim Ornellas
Special to The R-C
Courtesy Photo

I’m writing to thank you for your interesting, very well written and unbiased “Mountain lions in political cross hair,” article of Feb. 15.

Thank you for allowing me the input, and pitting our watch dog group up against NDOW’s expert’s obvious 47 years of failed scientific protected mountain lion management, that by their own records, proves the losses of our disappearing mule deer, to the lions.

Pete Bradley said the idea was far-fetched that you could eliminate all mountain lions and the deer population would go nuts. The state is practicing this very fact with their $5,000 valued big horn sheep tags, in their effort to keep those “big horn sheep ranges free of lions.”

Next, yes, “mule deer and mountain lions have evolved together for thousands of years,” until Nevada Fish and Game with ulterior motives decided as the first state to reclassify and “scientifically” manage the lions and deer alongside each other in the same habitat, as “big game animals” that require licenses and tags, while one of the protected “scientifically managed” game animals the lions, kill and eat the other vulnerable unprotected game animal, deer, as their main food source, of all ages and sizes per year to survive.

Next: Deer are the most vulnerable animal and cannot defend their fawns or themselves, against lions.

The lion population estimates I quoted from NDOW’s own records, not mine, I have none. No one knows how many lions or deer abound in any habitat.

The academic indoctrinated, professional excuses for the deer losses always blame encroachment by civilization, loss of habitat, severe winters, droughts, fires and the poachers, which NDOW claims kill 18,000 to 20,000 deer every year.

They habitually disregard the annual depredation losses to the overpopulations of out-of-control lions, at issue here, and the 250,000 to 750,000 out of control coyotes and unknown bobcat populations that are known to eliminate 40-60 percent of the anticipated annual newborn spring (fawn crop).

Add to all these losses NDOW’s essential annual “scientific” deer seasons, to kill off the surplus deer, to prevent them from overpopulating, to die off due to starvation, parasites, and diseases.

NDOW’s game population’s estimates are erroneous, due to being derived from computerized scientific data, from uncounted, (unknown) animals, instead of realistically. The state has never allowed for the reproduction potential of the deer’s natural enemies, the “redefined” lions, coyotes, and bobcats that kill deer of all ages and sizes year around. No one really knows just how many animals are out there, it is just a guess (as you well stated).

The only reproduction factor NDOW believes or cares about, are the anticipated annual (fawn crops), referred to as (herd recruitment) that replace the harvested deer.

NDOW’s “computerized deer” sit in their files, safe from harm, and predators, for one whole year, (reproducing on paper) to justify their annual season harvest quotas”, that represent 60 percent of their annual salaries.

Pete Bradley’s biggest mistake was stating “Currently mountain lions can be hunted like other big game species. The department sets a season and quota and issues tags accordingly.”

This is an out right lie. There is no season to hunt lions as of 2001, after I challenged the impracticality to place a season on this 100-200-pound predator, that kills and eats deer year around, and has no breeding season, with female lions found with fetus, or cubs of all ages, during any month of the year, also, NDOW does not issue tags.

To hunt any of the other big game species including swan and wild turkeys, with the exception of the lion, every sportsman must apply for specific big game tag, lottery, with a $15 nonrefundable application fee that contains a $3.00 predator control fee to have the (protected lions killed as predators) by the USDAWS predator control agency, in partnership with NDOW), no longer called “Predator Control Agency,” now called “Wild Life Services,” (under contract to NDOW).

Differently, 1 to 2 mountain lion tags can be purchased by anyone, at any hardware, chain store, sporting goods or other businesses that sell fishing hunting licenses and (unlimited lion tags) for NDOW.

Reported by NDOW, on November 27, 2009, was the past 20 years of Nevada lion history. The lion tag sales averaged 1,800 to 2,000 per year, with a harvest return of 140 lions per year (that Carl Lackey alluded to), out of NDOW’s scientific management unfilled annual (349) NDOW quotas that have never been filled, (refutes Carl lackey’s statement, “Further more, Nevada has some of the least stringent regulations regarding mountain lion hunting,” on top of admitting the “quota harvests have never been met.”

The reason for this being, you cannot hunt lions successfully by sight, (without the use of hounds) like all the other game animals, merely in “possession of a lion tag, and high powered rifle with a scope, in hopes of accidentally seeing an unaware lion, implied of lions being able to be hunted like coyotes and rabbits,” if they are delisted again, as the natural inherently born predators lions are by nature, instead of commercially defined game animals for profit.

The restricted hound men, not the sportsmen that buy 85 percent of the lion tags, in case they see a lion, are the hunters that hunt and catch 85 percent of all the lions killed in Nevada, with a 95-100 percent success ratio, that includes the quota harvested lions. Lackey knows better than that.

Carl Lackey’s remarks directed to me that “Ornellas’ statement lacks scientific merit,” was the only true statement made. This is the argument that defeats the whole 47 years of their totally failed scientific mountain lion management program, responsible in the loss of our disappearing mule deer due to the protection of the deer’s natural enemies, redefined as game and furbearing mammals, to justify the requirement of licenses, tags, and permits, to hunt, trap and kill lions, coyotes, and bobcats, for their big game status value, for NDOW’s benefit.

Carl Lackey’s claim that “There is absolutely no correlation between killing all the lions and thinking that’s going to bring mule deer back. It’s a bad idea.”

Again, I have never suggested or implied such. First of all I already made the statement at the Elko Commission meeting April 15, 2010, that to kill all the lions in Nevada is impossible, and I explained why so, that day.

One lion kills more deer in one year, as it would take an avid deer hunter in a life time of 75 years of age, to kill just 59 deer in 59 years by filling his deer tags every year, starting at the age of 16. Compound this fact, to include a lion’s 14 to 16 year life span.

For the record, NDOW’s has conducted a seven-year Northern Washoe special, selected area (Unit 014) intensive predator-prey control program, where more 50 lions have already been trapped, snared and killed of an on going project.

Twenty-four lions were killed within a one year period, in this small area, the size of Douglas County. NDOW had placed a sports harvest (quota of two lions) to prevent over harvests.

The 24 lions that were taken out of this one small area, by the lion hunter and trappers, certainly can be considered an over harvest, including the highly publicized special selected Big Horn planted and trans-located mountain range (intensive predator control) projects, disproves Lackey’s statements.

This with NDOW’s instructions to the hunters and trappers to make periodic visits into those sheep areas to look for lion activity and tracks, and to immediately remove any lion that leaves a track or moves into these designated areas, meaning just that, to kill every lion.

Deliberately, ignoring the fact the mountain lions are “protected, scientifically managed, big game animals in deer habitat described below, and despite their claims in their annual Big Game Status Reports, that “balanced stable lion populations being maintained in line with the prey base,” and “the base population of prey species on which mountain lions depend most heavily (deer) are currently at levels expected to continue to sustain lion populations.”

Just let someone kill any lion without a lion tag, including a known incident, where a lion killed a rancher’s sheep in Carson, and after reporting the depredation, USDAWS Reno office (supervisor) Jack Spencer, answered the depredation call.

Ignoring his responsibility, he then suggested, the rancher purchase a lion tag first, from NDOW, in case the lion returned to the kill site, and take his gun and two dogs with him.

The lion did return to its victims, in broad daylight, then was chased and treed by the rancher’s dogs and disposed of, as a game animal, instead of a known (depredating predator).

The gall and insult of suggesting the purchase of a “lion tag” to kill a known depredating, natural predator, yourself, instead of the high salaried USDAWS lion hunter. This incident proves NDOW and USDAWS’ arrogance, and lion commercialization, partnership, disregarding compensating the rancher for his $400 loss of the two sheep.

Any lion on your property or ranch is a protected game animal, for the exception of entering into one of NDOW’s (intensive predator controlled) ($5,000 valued) “Big Horn Sheep ranges,” that immediately becomes a predator, even before it kills a sheep.

Bradley and Lackey have the gall to claim they don’t believe in killing all lions? NDOW has been bragging about the increases of their valued big horn sheep to be, 10,000, in their 61 managed introduced and trans-located sheep ranges. Now we know why.

Mountain lions do not or “more or less regulate themselves to a degree,” as Carl Lackey asserted. Years ago I concluded our biologists developed this concept for their own scientific mountain lion management agenda, after watching too many television programs about the big “African lions,” an entirely different lion with different habits and traits, in an entirely different continent and habit at with millions of every ungulate species, from water buffalo, zebra, giraffe, hogs, and every variety of wild antelope in the millions.

It is the African lions whose instinct is to kill any young cubs they find and each other, in jealous battles to the death out in the open prairies.

Of all the miles I have covered up and down mountain ranges, following my lion hounds the life time I hunted and caught lions in Western Nevada, never did I encounter or find a lion that was killed by another lion. To say it can never happen would be ignorant. I do know they instinctively will and have killed injured or other disabled lions caught in traps.

One of NDOW‘s career biologists that likes to trap during winter can attest to this.

Both biologists’ statements of my intention or suggestion to kill all the lions, instills a serious negative and serious resentment toward me, in the public, and other anti-hunting and environmental predator protectionist factions minds that have never read or heard the truth.

Nevada Jim Ornellas is president of the Nevada Big Game Restoration Group.