FROM MOUNTAIN MEDIA
> FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE DATED JAN. 21, 2001
> THE LIBERTARIAN, By Vin Suprynowicz
> 'Now they've made it all "wilderness" and there's no deer left'
> Last time we were talking about the official state Department of
> Wildlife study on sage grouse eggs being eaten up by ravens -- a report
> which Dr. Bruce Wilkin of Ely contends Willie Molini's Department of
> Wildlife managed to keep "buried" since 1990, since it gives solid
> that the decline in sage grouse populations must be attributed to the end
> of the predator control programs that worked so well from 1948 into the
> early '70s -- not to ranchers or hunters "overusing the land."
> Joining me and Dr. Wilkin for our Friday dinner in Ely, Harry Pappas,
> was appointed by former Congresswoman Barbara Vucanovich to the BLM
> Advisory Council and later represented the State Rifle & Pistol
> on the Clark County Tortoise Advisory Council, chimed in with a few tales
> of the absurdities he's witnessed over the years.
> "They said the tortoise was threatened, so they had to fence off these
> huge areas and shut out all the cattle, which means no one is out there
> shooting the coyotes and the raven or trapping the lions any more, so of
> course that wrecked the hunting. They said anyone who found a tortoise had
> to turn it in.
> "So what happened? They got so overrun with tortoises being turned in
> that they told us they were going to have to start euthanizing them. I
> 'Hold on a minute, here. Euthanize them? Why don't you just drop them out
> in the desert?' They said 'Oh no, they'll fight with the native tortoises
> that already live out there and they'll kill each other, because all these
> lands are already at saturation levels.' I said, 'Wait a minute, now:
> is it? How can they be 'threatened,' or 'endangered' ... but now you tell
> us all these lands are at 'saturation levels' for tortoises?"
> Harry recalls a wildlife biologist from California who, years earlier,
> spoke before the BLM's Citizen Advisory Council (on which Harry also
> served), bringing in "two huge plastic garbage bags full of baby tortoise
> shells -- there had to be hundreds of them, probably thousands. Every one
> of these shells had a hole pecked through the top where the ravens had
> carried them off and pecked through the shell and eaten the baby tortoise
> right out of the shell, and he said they picked these up in middens around
> the raven nests, just thousands of them.
> "Well, he showed up once, and then we never saw or heard from that guy
> In fact, when "desert tortoise preservation" became the main rationale
> for pushing most of southern Nevada's cattle ranchers off the land, Harry
> remembered the ranger from California with his bags of tortoise shells,
> asked if he couldn't be brought back to address the Tortoise Advisory
> Council. "At that point they all said they didn't know who I was talking
> about; they couldn't find him.
> "I followed him out to his truck that night and asked if I could have
> of those shells. He didn't want to do it, but I talked him into giving me
> one." Harry carried with him a photographic slide showing the baby
> shell with the hole pecked in its back. He delivered it to Cliff Gardner
> the Gardner Ranch in Ruby Valley the next day.
> "But now they say the way to protect the tortoise is to fence off the
> land and not let the ranchers and the hunters in, when the biggest
> populations we ever had were in the '50s and '60s, when you had plenty of
> ranching, and plenty of hunting, and plenty of predator control," Harry
> continues, turning back to his spaghetti and meatballs while eyeing with
> considerable skepticism the carrot and cauliflower vegetable medley.
> "I hunted the Star Valley (east of the Rubies) for 10 years. There used
> to be lots of deer there, but now they've made it all 'wilderness' and
> there's no deer left. But where Cliff has his cattle running up and down
> the east side of the mountain, there's plenty of deer." (Harry turned out
> to be right; the next day we spotted more than 80 deer just driving the
> snowy road through Harrison Pass with Walt Gardner, who hires out as a
> hunting guide -- mostly does and fawns, and the tracks of a 150-pound
> lion.) "You don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure it out."
> "The Fish & Game data show they're losing 60 to 80 percent of the fawn
> crop each year -- not to hunters, to predators," Dr. Wilkin concludes. "A
> lion will take one deer a week; 50 in a year. You can't sustain a herd at
> that rate. Not without predator control."
> Vin Suprynowicz is assistant editorial page editor of the Las Vegas
> Review-Journal, and editor of Financial Privacy Report (952-895-8757.) His
> book, "Send in the Waco Killers: Essays on the Freedom Movement,
> 1993-1998," is available by dialing 1-800-244-2224; or via web site