Black bear advocates: Lawsuit against Nevada Wildlife Commission and#8216;highly likelyand#8217;
INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. and#8212; Despite Nevadaand#8217;s wildlife commission approving regulations last week to the stateand#8217;s first-ever black bear hunt, a local group of concerned residents opposed to the hunt and the motivations behind its approval are not giving up the fight.
Tahoe residents Christine Schwamberger and Kathryn Bricker, the two lead organizers of nobearhuntnv.org, said this week they are compiling facts in preparation of filing a lawsuit in Nevada District Court against the Nevada Wildlife Commission, alleging the statewide body violated open meeting laws.
Schwamberger, a practicing attorney, said a lawsuit is and#8220;highly likelyand#8221; as of Wednesday afternoon. She said the commission violated Nevada Revised Statute 241, which states any members of a public board must and#8220;consider fullyand#8221; public comment and have a public discussion of the comment, when it approved the hunt via an 8-0 vote in Reno in December 2010.
and#8220;Essentially, the public was excluded from the meeting, which is a direct violation of Nevada laws,and#8221; Schwamberger said. and#8220;Our input was disregarded, mischaracterized and ignored.and#8221;
Contention revolves around Chairman Scott Raineand#8217;s characterization of more than 4,000 e-mails containing comments relating to the bear hunt as and#8220;spam.and#8221; Schwamberger further takes issue with the boardand#8217;s characterization of the e-mails as and#8220;evenly splitand#8221; between for and against.
An analysis by nobearhuntnv.org claims that more than 98 percent of the e-mails were in opposition to the hunt. Furthermore, NDOW spokesman Chris Healy said in a previous story that 42 people spoke out against the hunt and 20 voiced support for it during the Dec. 3-4 hearing in Reno.
Raine said he may have misused the word spam, but many of the e-mails came from outside the state of Nevada and in some cases outside the country.
He said board members did listen to public comment and incorporated some of the ideas brought forth during the meeting, including the notion of banning a spring hunt.
Nevertheless, nobearhuntnv.org continues to maintain the democratic process was not upheld during the proceedings, with Bricker saying the board continued to disregard public input at the most recent meeting and#8212; last Friday in Las Vegas.
and#8220;That meeting went poorly,and#8221; said Bricker, who joined Schwamberger in presenting the commission with an Incline Village General Improvement District resolution voicing displeasure against the hunt.
Schwamberger said the lawsuit is one aspect of a and#8220;full-court pressand#8221; against the commission and its decision.
Bricker and Schwamberger also met with a representative from Gov. Brian Sandovaland#8217;s office to discuss revamping the laws pertaining to the configuration of the commission, who various county advisory boards recommend as board candidates and which scientific data is admissible.
According to state law, the governor appoints the nine-member commission; five of the members must have experience as hunters or fisherman.
The women are also conducting interviews with regional television stations in hopes of bringing more attention to the issue.
and#8220;We want to collect public support and exert some political pressure while we research our facts in preparation for a lawsuit,and#8221; Schwamberger said.