Courtesy photo
Walker Lake residents are questioning whether the harvesting of a bighorn sheep near Walker Lake was legal or not.

On Sunday, Oct. 15, a licensed hunter harvested a bighorn sheep from the Walker Lake herd near the town of the same name, leaving some residents upset.

A concerned caller in the town contacted the Nevada Department of Wildlife and Mineral County Sheriff’s Office, both of whom investigated the claim that the sheep was illegally harvested.

The Independent-News contacted Sheriff Randy Adams of the Mineral County Sheriff’s Department and in speaking with his deputy that handled the case, he stated that no charges had been filed against the sheep hunter.

Robert Winn, of Walker Lake, who did not see the actual shooting of the bighorn sheep explained, “My family and I were driving southbound, coming back into town from Fallon. It was Sunday afternoon. As we rounded the curve, just before the Buffalo Stop, we saw a group of men in camouflage loading a game bag. Their trucks and a Jeep were parked there and they had apparently dressed out a dead sheep maybe 15 yards from the vacant building right along the highway. It totally caught us off-guard and just didn’t seem right at all.”

Though the sheep may have been cleaned in the desert near the old Buffalo Stop building, it is not known where the animal was first shot.

Curious if any laws had been broken through the Nevada Department of Wildlife, the Independent-News contacted Jason Turnipseed with NDOW who also explained that through their investigation, no laws had been broken by the hunter.

Turnipseed explained that on the surface, state laws almost applied but not fully. Again, no citation was issued.

In researching the firearm laws of Mineral County, Sterling Codifiers has Chapter 9.80 FIRES, FIREARMS AND FIREWORKS (HAWTHORNE, LUNING, MINA, SCHURZ) on their website. It states, “It is unlawful …to give away, sell, keep, expose or offer for sale or to fire off or discharge within the limits of Hawthorne, any ordinance, gun, rifle, pistol or another firearm…”. Unfortunately, the town of Walker Lake is not mentioned within that code and there are no signs within the boundaries of the township limits stating it is illegal.

A resident in the lake town explained that “the sheep herd shot upon was not located in the wild, but instead they feed in that area on a daily basis without harm or concern.” It has also been stated that residents in Walker Lake feed and water the animals.

According to the NDOW website, feeding big game animals is against the law. Senate Bill 371 explains that a person can be fined up to $500 for feeding any big game animal without written authorization from NDOW.

Turnipseed also explained that the shooting of big game animals in residential areas has become a concern in many rural towns in Nevada. He explained that the harvesting of mule deer in Spring Creek, Genoa and other towns where these animals come in to feed has become an issue for that department.

This year, NDOW will present new regulations regarding the shooting of big game in the boundaries of residential areas.

Turnipseed said that the language explaining what NDOW will be presenting in draft form will be heard at Nevada Division of Wildlife January 2018 meeting. The draft will be available to county wildlife advisory board’s in December for review and discussion.

Glenn Bunch, Mineral County Wildlife Advisory Board President, welcomes any that would like to weigh in on this item to be present at the December meeting. The meeting is listed on the Independent-News community calendar for that month.