|Nevada hunters will vie for an overall increase in the number of highly sought after big game hunting tags this year, the result of action taken by the nine-member Wildlife Commission which met in Henderson on May 6.
The process that led to the establishment of the number of tags that will be available this year to hunt mule deer, antelope, elk, mountain goat and three different types of bighorn sheep lasted six hours. Since the number of applicants far exceeds the number of available tags, computerized drawings are conducted to award tags to those who applied by the April 17 application deadline.
Nevada Division of Wildlife (NDOW) reported during the meeting that, in general, big game species in the state are doing well and reproduction was good to excellent for most species.
"About 80 percent of the state's mule deer management areas experienced exceptional fawn production as documented through our aerial surveys," said Game Bureau Chief, Gregg Tanner. "The 1999-2000 statewide post-hunt ratio of 66 fawns per 100 does was the highest fawn production value observed since 1986."
The Commission approved a statewide resident "any legal weapon" or "rifle" deer quota of 14,881 tags, up 1,553 over last year. Those who hunt with muzzleloader rifles will see a separate quota of 1,052, down 61 from last year, with archers competing for 3,150, down 41 from the previous season.
Resident junior hunt tags were increrased 714, to a total of 4,798, with a similar increase, 886, in the number of antlerless or doe tags, for a total of 3,526.
Moderate tag increases were approved for this year's antelope hunts, with a total of 1,237 rifle and 193 archery tags available to residents. In addition, 68 antelope doe tags will be available.
Although Tanner reported that Nevada antelope are doing well for the most part, populations of this species remain well below peak population levels of the early 1990s. Hunter success last year was calculated at 83 percent, nearly 10 percent above the previous year, and he expects continued high hunter success this year.
Nevada elk herds continue to be very productive and increased tag quotas were adopted for the bull rifle hunt, 398; bull muzzleloader, 66; and archery, 66.
Slight increases were approved for desert bighorn sheep, 114, up five from last year; and Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, four, down one from 1999. The California bighorn sheep tag quota was set at 37, five less than last year.
On the heels of a record aerial animal count in 1998, and over 90 percent hunter success during the 1999 hunting season, Nevada's Rocky Mountain goat tag quota was increased by seven this year to a total of 17.
A maximum statewide allowable harvest of 303 mountain lions was approved by the Commission for the 2000-2001 season, up 16 tags from the previous season.
Nonresident quotas established by the Commission are: antelope rifle, 60, archery, 7; elk rifle, 18; desert bighorn rifle, 13; California bighorn rifle, 4; mule deer rifle, 1,257, muzzleloader, 128, archery 350.
Under contract with NDOW, computerized tag drawings for all hunts will be conducted later this month by Systems Consultants of Fallon. Results of the drawings will be available by June 9, according to the Division.
Hunting season opening and closing dates were set by the Commission during their February 5 meeting. Hunters were required to apply for hunts no later than April 17.
A complete listing of all big game hunting season dates and tag quotas will be available in the Division's publication, the Nevada Hunt Book, available in early June at all NDOW offices and license agents throughout the state.
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