Nevada rocky cliff over desert landscape.
 
Photograph of the state capitol building.

NEVADA LAW AFFECTING LIONS

Nevada's predator management projects have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars killing lions.

Historically, mountain lions were considered unprotected fur animals and $5 bounties were paid for each lion killed. Since 1965 lions have been classified as big game mammals and managed by the Nevada Department of Wildlife.

Lions continue to be heavily persecuted in Nevada by ever-increasing sport hunting quotas, intolerance by ranchers, habitat loss, and a new predator removal program funded by fees from hunting licenses.

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  • The status of puma concolor in Nevada.

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Nevada Cougar Laws and Regulations


In Nevada's legal code, Puma concolor is generally referred to as "mountain lion."

Species Status

The species is classified as a big game mammal, along with pronghorn antelope, black bear, mule deer, mountain goat, Rocky Mountain elk, Nelson bighorn sheep, California bighorn sheep, Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, and any other species classified as a big game mammal by the Nevada Board of Wildlife Commissioners Nevada Board of Wildlife Commissioners.

Laws pertaining to Nevada's endangered species can be applied to mountain lions because the laws apply to all native fish, wildlife, and other fauna. However, mountain lions are not listed as endangered or threatened in Nevada because the Nevada Board of Wildlife Commissioners does not believe that the species' "existence is endangered and its survival requires assistance because of overexploitation, disease or other factors or its habitat is threatened with destruction, drastic modification or severe curtailment."

State Law

Generally, treatment of wildlife in the State of Nevada is governed by the Nevada Revised Statutes - the state's collection of all laws passed by its legislature. Rules regarding the treatment of wildlife in Nevada can also be found in the Nevada Administrative Code - the state's collection of all agency rules. Since our summary below may not be completely up to date, you should be sure to review the most current law for Nevada.

You can check the statutes directly at a state-managed website.

These statutes are not searchable.

The Legislature

The Nevada Legislature is a part-time, bicameral legislature. The lower chamber - the Assembly - is made up of 42 members who serve 2-year terms. The Democratic Party has controlled the Nevada State Assembly since 1997. The upper chamber - the Senate - consists of 21 members who serve 4-year terms. Members of either chamber may only serve 12 years in that chamber. If you do not know who your state legislators are or in which legislative district(s) you live, Nevada maintains this website to help you. If you already know who your state legislators are or in which district(s) you live, you may use the Assembly's membership roster and/or the Senate's roster to contact your representatives.

The Nevada Legislature's regular session begins on the first Monday in February following the election of Assembly members. The session must adjourn before midnight PST on the 120th calendar day of the session. The legislature may call itself into special sessions by submitting a petition signed by two-thirds of the members of each house to the Nevada Secretary of State. The governor may also call the legislature into special sessions, but special sessions called by the legislature take precedence over those called by the governor. Special sessions are limited to 20 calendar days regardless of who calls them.

State Regulation

Nevada's wildlife regulations can be found in Chapters 501, 502, 503, 504, and 505 of the Nevada Administrative Code. The regulations are written by the Nevada Board of Wildlife Commissioners.

Nevada Board of Wildlife Commissioners

The Nevada Board of Wildlife Commissioners is a 9-member board appointed by the governor. County advisory boards submit the names of potential nominees to the governor. Nevada law requires the board to consist of at least one conservation advocate, a farmer, a rancher, one member who represents the interests of the general public, and five members who held a Nevada hunting and/or fishing license during at least 3 of the 4 years immediately prior to their appointment to the board. No more than three members may be from a county whose population is 700,000 or greater. No more than two commissioners may be from a county whose population is 100,000-699,999. Only one commissioner may be from a county whose population is less than 100,000. The board does not have political diversity rules. The board is responsible for setting state regulations, reviewing budgets, and receiving public input.

Nevada Department of Wildlife

The Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) is the department in the Nevada state executive branch that enforces the state's wildlife laws and regulations. The NDOW is overseen by the Nevada Board of Wildlife Commissioners.

Management Plan

Nevada still uses the Comprehensive Mountain Lion Management Plan written in 1995. The plan is required by commission policy and makes recommendations to guide commission policies.

Hunting Law

Hunting of mountain lions is allowed year-round in the State of Nevada. Officially, March 1 is the date when mountain lion hunting season begins, and February 28 is when the season closes if the state's mountain lion quotas have not already been met. The regulations governing "recreational" hunting of mountain lions specify 118 wildlife management units organized into 29 management areas. Nevada allows hunters to purchase two lion tags per year.

Hound hunting is allowed and does not require any special permits unless the hunter is guiding others during the hunt.

Nevada allows the hunting of mountain lions with centerfire rifles .22 caliber or larger, muzzle-loading rifles and muskets with a single barrel that is .45 caliber or larger, shotguns no larger than 10 gauge and no smaller than 20 gauge, longbows, crossbows, and flash lights to accommodate hunting at night.

After a mountain lion has been killed, the skull and hide must be presented to a WDOW representative within 72 hours. The representative will permanently affix the department's seal to the hide. One of the lion's premolars will also be removed.

Biologists determine how many mountain lions can be harvested in each game management unit. Once a unit's quota is reached, the unit is closed to further hunting to prevent overharvest. Nevada prohibits the killing of killing of spotted kittens and females accompanied by kittens.

Public Safety Law

Nevada law states that there is no criminal penalty for the killing of a mountain lion if "[t]he killing of the animal is necessary to protect the life or property of any person in imminent danger of being attacked by the animal." The law does not state if there are any reporting requirements or what may be done with the carcass of a mountain lion killed for threatening human life.

Depredation Law

Depredation regulation in Nevada states that the director of the Nevada Department of Wildlife may issue a permit to kill a depredating lion. Further regulations state that themountain lion carcass is property of the state and may be retrieved by the NDOW. There is no mention of how soon the killing of the lion must be reported to NDOW. Nevada law also allows people to kill any mountain lion that is actively endangering property. Owners of domestic animals do not appear to be required to take any steps to protect their pets or livestock. There also does not appear to be a government-funded compensation program for losses of domestic animals to mountain lions.

USDA Wildlife Services

The State of Nevada contracts with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Wildlife Services to kill mountain lions that may be threatening the survival of other animals throughout the state. The USDA publishes summaries of its yearly wildlife control programs, but does not appear to specify whether the lions were killed to protect livestock, game species, or both. PDR G reports the numbers of mountain lions and other species killed.

Trapping

Mountain lions may not be trapped for fur in Nevada. The regulations governing trapping in Nevada do not classify mountain lions as a fur-bearing species. If a mountain lion is accidently trapped and killed, it must be reported to a WDOW representative within 48 hours. The carcass must be disposed of in accordance with the representative's directions.

Poaching

Poaching law in the State of Nevada provides some protection of mountain lions in law, but only as a deterrent. It is rare for penalties to be sufficiently harsh to keep poachers from poaching again. Unlawfully killing a mountain lion in Nevada is punished as a class E felony, but the court may reduce the penalty to that of a gross misdemeanor. A class E felony is punishable by a prison term of 1-4 years and a fine of up to $5,000. A gross misdemeanor is punished by up to 364 days of imprisonment and a fine of up to $2,000. State regulations also state that poachers are awarded demerit points based on the nature of their offense. Upon the accumulation of 12 demerit points within a 60-month period, the poacher's hunting privilege can be revoked for two, three, five, or ten years.

Road Mortalities

The Nevada Department of Transportation does not keep records of mountain lions killed on the State's roads.


Click here to visit the scorecard's website...

Environmental Scorecard

League of Conservation Voters

The League of Conservation Voters' scorecard considers the Nevada State Legislature's environmental records since 1971. It quantifies the environmental votes of each individual legislator — an important first step in considering accountability — and provides critical qualitative assessments as well. The scorecard will help you to know your legislator before you write a letter in support of cougars.

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Becoming a Mountain Lion Activist

There are lots of opportunities to take action!

Are you new to mountain lion activism? You want to change your local environment to improve it for cougars... but you don't know how to start. You may feel like you are all alone... but it takes just one person to change the attitudes and lifestyles of hundreds of others. You don't need to belong to a group. It doesn't take special skills or superhuman abilities. You just need to care enough about cougars to want to help them survive. You've already done the hard part, now let us help you with the next step.

Click here to open a new window and visit the agency's website...

Nevada Department of Wildlife.

Commonly abbreviated as: NDOW

Tony Wasley, Director

Main Office:
6980 Sierra Center Pkwy #120
Reno, NV 89511
(775) 688-1500
ndowinfo@ndow.org


Predator Staff Biologist
Pat Jackson
6980 Sierra Center Pkwy #120
Reno, NV 89511
pjackson@ndow.org
775-688-1676

Please write to the director and express your concern for lions in Nevada.

Thank NDOW when they take steps to protect our state's cougars. When they fall short of expectations, politely ask for policy reform and more officer training.
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