Nevada Wildlife Board approves 2022 big game harvest quotas
With application season ending and draw results pending, the Nevada Board of Wildlife Commissioners recently approved the 2022 big game harvest quotas during the May meeting. Every year has its own set of issues and this past year is no different. For 2022, hunters can expect a reduced number of tags. The current quotas are based upon “substantial scientific input and deliberation” from the Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) wildlife biologists who took into account the ongoing drought and habitat changes due to “wildfires, urbanization, resource competition from wild horses” and other factors, according to the agency.
“The current drought conditions are the worst experienced in more than 1,200 years,” said NDOW Elk and Moose Staff Specialist Cody McKee. “Basically, there are fewer groceries on the landscape, they don’t last as long, they’re harder to eat, and don’t provide as many nutrients. This obviously poses many challenges to Nevada’s big game populations.”
While there are reduced quota numbers across Nevada, not all big game populations were equally impacted.
“Despite the poor conditions reported across much of Nevada, there are a few bright spots in terms of growth and herd performance,” says NDOW Wildlife Staff Specialist Cody Schroeder. “Mule deer in area 6 and area 10 have observed above average recruitment and are above management objectives for buck ratios. Also, some antelope herds in Lander an Elko Counties are experiencing population growth and expansion and quota recommendations are designed to keep those herds in check. There should be plenty of hunting opportunity for mule deer and [antelope] hunters in those areas.”
Fawn survival rates remain low across eastern and central Nevada, resulting in a decline in overall recruitment numbers. Some of the state’s big game populations are so far below objective that reduced quotas are necessary to maintain stable numbers.
“In some areas, low fawn numbers have been observed in each of the past three or four years,” said NDOW Game Division Chief Mike Scott. “Low fawn numbers in one year result in fewer adults in that cohort in future years. When you see the same phenomenon over multiple years, the result is downward trend in populations.”
Yet, mountain goat populations are “performing exceptionally well in the Ruby Mountains,” says McKee. “Despite an overall reduction in elk tags, recommendations are stable or slightly increasing in many areas. Drought conditions are less severe in northeastern Nevada and juvenile recruitment for big game herds in this region is higher than experienced in other parts of the state. We’re also offering new and creative hunts to better manage some of our big game populations like a one-horn ram hunt for desert bighorn sheep and antler point restrictions for certain depredation elk hunts.”
With the quota recommendation approved, NDOW will move forward with the random draw.