Nevada’s Department of Wildlife needs more oversight, says state Sen. Pete Goicoechea, who is sponsoring legislation to add two members to the Wildlife Commission. But environmentalists and animal activists say the measure would tilt the board even more in favor of hunting, trapping and fishing interests.
The Wildlife Commission is the “the least democratic of all state boards or commissions which provide oversight to a public resource,” says Donald Molde of the Nevada Wildlife Alliance. “In fact, I’m not sure there is another that is so tilted.”
By law, Nevada’s nine-member Wildlife Commission, which has wide latitude to enact policy and spend money, must have five “sportsmen,” i.e. hunters, fishermen or trappers who have purchased a license in three of the past four years, one rancher, one farmer, one conservationist, and one member of the public. Members are appointed by the governor.
“The current composition of the Wildlife Commission is wildly out of balance with the population of Nevada,” says Patrick Donnelly, State Director for the Center for Biological Diversity. “It’s almost exclusively white men from rural and northern Nevada. While only 3 percent of the state holds a hunting license, 55 percent of the commission is represented specifically by hunters.”
A spokeswoman for the Nevada Conservation League declined to comment about the legislation on the record.
A recent attitude survey of 1,133 Nevadans who responded indicates:
- About one in five Nevadans — 22 percent — identify as Traditionalists, who essentially believe humans have dominion over other animals, which “should be used and managed for human benefit,” says the survey.
- Some 44 percent identify as Mutualists, who ascribe to the belief that “wildlife are part of our social network and that we should live in harmony.”
- One in five Nevadans say they hold both views, and 15 percent are indifferent to animal issues, according to the survey.
Goicoechea’s bill would add two spots on the Commission. One is for a local elected official.