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Ousted wildlife director working at Legislature

SANDRA CHEREB
Associated Press

The ousted director of the Nevada Department of Wildlife has been hired as a research analyst at the Legislative Counsel Bureau.

Ken Mayer was abruptly fired by outgoing Gov. Jim Gibbons on Nov. 22 when Mayer showed up at the Capitol for a meeting with Gov.-elect Brian Sandoval.

Gibbons hired Mayer in 2007. But the director, a wildlife biologist with more than 20 years experience in Nevada and California, grew at odds with some members of the Nevada Commission of Wildlife, a nine-member panel of political appointees who set wildlife policy.

The commission has emphasized increased predator control – killing mountain lions and coyotes – to restore Nevada’s dwindling mule deer herds. Wildlife biologists, however, say there’s many factors hurting herds in Nevada and around the West, including loss of habitat to wildland fires and human encroachment.

Mayer is working in the constituent services unit of the Legislative Counsel Bureau’s research division, LCB Director Lorne Malkiewich said Thursday.

It’s a temporary position for the duration of the 2011 Legislature that begins Feb. 7. Mayer will earn about $50,000 for six months. Besides responding to requests from legislators and constituents, Mayer also will help train other LCB analysts on wildlife and natural resource issues.

“He’s a highly qualified person,” Malkiewich said. “The fact is he knows wildlife backward and forward. This guy is at the top of his field.”

On the day Mayer was fired, Dale Erquiaga, deputy director of Sandoval’s transition team, said Sandoval did not meet with Mayer as scheduled and would not comment about his departure, saying Nevada has one governor at a time.

Robin Reedy, Gibbons’ chief of staff, called the dismissal a personnel matter. As an agency director, Mayer served at the pleasure of the governor.