The compounding effects of two summers of raging wildfires in the state of Nevada have made the decision to increase antelope and deer harvests relatively easy for the Nevada Department of Wildlife.

With an additional 500 square miles of winter range destroyed by wildfires burning in Elko County, the Department announced over the weekend that they have endorsed several emergency related depredation hunts for both antlerless deer and antelope with horns shorter than their ears.

“Last summer’s fires had already decimated a large portion of this winter range, and the additional habitat loss from the 2017 fires have taken a bad situation and made it much worse,” said Tony Wasley, director for the Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW). “The affected winter ranges are highly unlikely to be able to support the number of animals it has in years past. Depending on the winter severity, we may see significant herd losses even with the reduced populations resulting from this hunt.”

Getting ahead of the inevitable problems that come with a drastic reduction in winter range such as starvation and malnutrition, the Department will award additional tags for those who have yet to receive one this year.  With the goal of reducing herds before the winter begins, 700 antelope tags will be made available across five units with an additional 700 antlerless deer tags across three units.

Each species will have two hunts for which the tags will be available; an early and a late season hunt, with the application period opening on August 17, 2017.

“We generally try to reduce adult female numbers when trying to lower the density of animals on crucial winter range with limited carrying capacity,” said Cody Schroeder, mule deer staff biologist for NDOW. “In terms of population dynamics, reducing the reproductive potential of a population usually keeps the density at a level that the habitat can support and allows the habitat to recover and the population to grow more slowly.”