NDOW seeks to stop theft of harvested big game | NevadaAppeal.com

NDOW seeks to stop theft of harvested big game

Don Quilici

According to a recent press release by the Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW), its game wardens are seeking the public’s help to stem an increase in criminal activity related to the outdoors and hunting season.

There has been a rash of thefts of harvested big game animals from hunting camps in the eastern half of the state.

“We have seen more conflict this year,” said Jerry Smith, game warden lieutenant in Elko.

The theft of game animals, according to game wardens, is a very new and alarming phenomenon. In the eastern half of the state, wardens have taken three reports of stolen animals in only a couple months time.

The first report came in during antelope season when the head, cape and horns of a legally harvested antelope were stolen out of a hunter’s camp.

During the most recent incident, someone tried to steal a mule deer from a camp, but hunters from a neighboring camp foiled the crime.

This kind of incident is not unheard of, but the increased numbers surprise wardens, according to Smith.

“I can’t recall three instances of theft in one fall season. Normally, we only hear about perhaps one case like this in the state over an entire year, and we still have two months of hunting season left.”

Wardens have distributed descriptions of all the animals taken to taxidermists across the state in hopes of catching the thieves.

In an unrelated case, a hunter was assaulted while riding an ATV in White Pine County.

As these unusual cases keep Nevada’s 31 field game wardens working overtime, they are drawn into ever more diverse investigations and public safety issues.

As the population of the state continues to grow, game wardens are seeing a corresponding increase in all types of wildlife crimes and conflicts, according to Rob Buonamici, chief game warden at NDOW.

Game wardens are asking hunters in the field to report suspicious activity and wildlife crimes to Operation Game Thief (OGT) at (800) 992-3030.