by NATASHA VITALE
Sage grouse protection became the central issue of concern in a presentation given by state director of the Nevada Department of Agriculture, Jim Barbee. Assemblyman Ira Hansen was the first to ask how an increase in the number ravens has affected the sage grouse and what the NDA plans to do about that issue.
Mark Jensen, state director for the Nevada Wildlife Services Program, says the state plans to work with the federal government on this issue.
“Because we have the expertise and infrastructure to protect agriculture and to do this work in Nevada, we’ve also been asked to work with Nevada Department of Wildlife to protect sage grouse,” Jensen says. “We basically go out into areas of rural Nevada and remove ravens that are depredating nests throughout the state.”
According to Jensen, about 70 percent of the sage grouse that are harmed in Nevada are harmed by the raven population.
“Some of the challenges we’re facing is that the ravens themselves are migratory birds,” he says. “[So they are] protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act — and that is from the Department of Interior and the Fish and Wildlife Services.”
According to Nevada Wildlife Services, the number of ravens that can be removed is dictated by the Fish and Wildlife Services. Currently, 2,000 ravens are allowed to be removed in order to protect sage grouse populations.