By Rayna Charley, @raynacharnley
Thriving elk populations in Nevada have created both excitement and concern in the state. The increase prompted the creation of Assembly Bill 78 and ensuing debate at Nevada’s Legislature.
Since elk’s reintroduction into Nevada’s ecosystem 25 years ago, they have proved more prolific than the Nevada Department of Wildlife anticipated. Once native to Nevada, elk were brought back to the state by NDW to enhance the state’s recreational hunting and increase tourism.
The state’s elk population has drastically increased over the past ten years, from an estimated 7,400 to 17,500. The climb of this big game species has been great for hunters and hikers who enjoy seeing the animals more often. However, the boom in elk has also led to backlash from ranchers and farmers across the state.
To address the destructive nature of these large animals, additional fees were added to the elk tag application in 1989. These fees have fluctuated over time and assist in covering the cost for damage caused to private property by elk.
AB78 would add an additional $5 fee to purchase an elk tag. It would also increase the number of elk tags awarded to hunters. In doing so, the Nevada Department of Wildlife hopes to ease the tension elk put on the environment and agriculture.
The application for the elk tag costs $15. If the hunter’s application is approved, the applicant must pay an additional $120 for the elk tag. The cost for out of state hunters inflates drastically; $500 for an antler-less elk and $1,200 for an elk with antlers.
Daniel Cook is an elk hunter from California willing to pay more to hunt elk in Nevada.
“The cost of the hunt is nothing compared to the experience you get out of it”, said Cook.
According to the Nevada Department of Wildlife, the state’s on-going drought has prompted elk to look for food and water in new places—particularly ranches.
The bill sponsors say the additional $5 application fee would yield approximately $340,000 every two years. These funds could prove essential in protecting both elk and private property.
The bill passed through the assembly and was presented to the Senate Committee on Natural Resources on March 17.
To read the full text of the bill, click here.