INCLINE VILLAGE - When the Nevada Wildlife Commission convenes Friday, it will likely face a hostile crowd of protesters upset with its decision to legalize bear hunting for the first time in state history.
A coalition of Southern Nevada animal advocacy groups - including Nevada Voters for Animals, Las Vegas Humane Society and Political Action for Animals - will join the Lake Tahoe-based organization Nobearhuntnv.org Friday in Las Vegas to demand the commission reconsider its December 2010 unanimous vote to legalize the hunt.
The nine-member wildlife panel is scheduled to discuss specific regulations for the hunt during Friday's discussion.
Kathryn Bricker, Zephyr Cove resident and Nobear
huntnv.org member, said protesters are galvanizing around the contention that the commission's 8-0 vote on Dec. 3 was conducted without full consideration of public input given at the meeting.
"This group is not anti-hunting; but it is pro-democracy," Bricker said of Nobearhuntnv.org. "The (commission's) vote was not conducted in the true spirit of the democratic process."
According to a press release written by group member Christine Schwamberger, NDOW Commission Chairman Scott Raine's characterization of the voluminous public comment the board received via e-mail as "spam" is evidence the board failed to "consider fully" public comment, a violation of state law.
"Nobearhuntnv.org states that the proper, democratic process required for pass regulations was not followed under Chairman Raine's watch, that the regulation should be invalidated, and that Chairman Raine should resign from the Commission for purposely disregarding and misrepresenting public comments," the release states.
In an interview this week, Raine said he has no intention of resigning.
Regarding his characterization of public input via e-mail, he said the argument boils down to semantics, saying he may have misused the word spam, but maintained that many of the thousands of e-mails the board received in advance of the Dec. 3 meeting were from outside the state of Nevada, and in some cases outside the country.
Raine said the board did consider input from Nevadans opposed to the hunt, including eliminating the possibility of a spring hunt due to justifiable objections raised by the public.
"There is no hint of compromise from the opposition," he said. "They're very all or nothing, but the bear hunt has been decided already and the board is moving forward."
However, Bricker said many Nevadans, especially those near Lake Tahoe and the Sierra Nevada - where the majority of the state's bear population resides - are against the hunt. She points to an online petition conducted at nobearhuntnv.org that has garnered 1,888 signatures as of Wednesday at noon. Bricker said Nevada residency is a condition of participation in the petition.
Furthermore, Bricker and others in her organization question why the vote was unanimous, 8-0 (the chairman does not vote unless to break a tie), when there were so many people that voiced opposition at the meeting.
"Commissioner Hal Shrum, the only commissioner who is appointed to represent the general public, still voted to approve the hunt, in spite of overwhelming opposition to the hunt," the release states.
Telephone calls to Shrum went unreturned.
In a recent interview, Mary-Sarah Kinner, press secretary for Gov. Brian Sandoval, said the governor has yet to take a position regarding the bear hunt and is currently "reviewing the regulation."
Furthermore, when asked if the Nevada Wildlife Commission is composed of individuals who represent all perspectives regarding wildlife issues, Kinner said: "The governor has not taken a position on how the committee was set up."