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Wildlife director's exit concerns conservationists

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 1, 2013 at 7:20 pm •  Published: February 1, 2013

"With impending decisions for sage-grouse, the suddenness of the Director's removal potentially sends a message to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that Nevada is less than committed to science-based conservation measures necessary to prevent a listing," Bobzien, D-Reno, said in the statement. He added there would be significant questioning during the legislative session in the wake of the dismissal.

Mary-Sarah Kinner, spokeswoman for Sandoval, said that precluding the listing of the sage grouse remains as critical for the state and as important for the governor as when he formed the Sagebrush Ecosystem Council by executive order in March 2012.

"The change in director will not affect the important work of the council as this effort continues to be a priority," Kinner said in an email to The Associated Press.

At the helm of Nevada's effort is Leo Drozdoff, director of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. He said he doesn't believe the resignation will dramatically hinder the state's chance of success, and that the issue "is a lot bigger than one person."

The state wildlife agency "is, and will continue to be integral to meeting the state's goal of preventing a listing," he said. "I don't view that we're going to have any problems."

Mayer, a wildlife biologist with more than 20 years of experience in Nevada and California, currently serves as the chairman for the National Greater Sage-grouse Executive Oversight Committee, the Bi-state Greater Sage-grouse Executive Oversight Committee and the National Executive Oversight Committee for Sage-grouse Conservation.

"They're the experts. The biologists at the Department of Wildlife are the ones who know the most about the habitat of the sage grouse and the birds themselves so I think they should take a prominent role in the conservation plan," Davis said.

John Carpenter, a former assemblyman from rural Elko County, said he and others have lobbied the governor for Mayer's ouster for a long time. Carpenter sent a letter Wednesday to Sandoval saying that getting rid of Mayer was the "only way to get into a positive mode in regard to increasing the deer herd and keeping sage grouse off the endangered list."