Have you ever watched chukar cover ground? It’s seldom in a straight path. Sometimes they zigzag uphill through rocks and crevices; sometimes they flush and glide swiftly sideways over ridges and through sagebrush; sometimes they divebomb straight downhill; and sometimes they sit completely still and silent, waiting for the perfect time to make their unpredictable escape attempt.
Chances are if you’re reading this, you’ve witnessed chukar or other game birds and their often-unpredictable antics. There’s much we can learn from them. Not just patience and perseverance while hunting them, but how their unpredictability relates to other aspects of life.
Much like the chukar’s flight, the gamebird populations in this state rise and fall, boom and bust, and sometimes hover unmoving, potentially leaving us surprised at the direction they move next. These variations in population exist largely due to Mother Nature’s influence on habitat conditions, feed availability, and the severity of our winters. Living in the driest state in the U.S. presents Nevada with a host of unique challenges each year, especially during drought years such as this. The resulting wildfires can have devastating effects on the sagebrush biome, and in turn, game bird populations.
These ebbs and flows are simply a part of living in our desert state. NDOW’s responsible game management is necessary to maintain healthy game bird populations, and while we can’t control Mother Nature, we strive to do the best we can to give wildlife populations of all shapes and sizes a competitive edge. This includes using science and data to determine the best courses of action, whether it be reseeding habitat after a wildfire or flying water into remote guzzlers during the summer’s most unforgiving heatwaves.
Keeping Nevada’s wildlife wild and abundant is the most important aspect that we at the Nevada Department of Wildlife strive for. We understand that there are natural rises and falls in the state’s wildlife populations, and we do our best to keep the falls to a minimum while we are always poised to take fullest advantage of Mother nature’s benefits when they are present.
Because much like life, the chukar’s sometimes chaotic movements can lead us down paths (or in the case of chukar hunting, up giant, steep mountains) we didn’t expect or weren’t ready for, but everything tends to work itself out in the end. Although the Great Basin in Nevada is presently challenged by extreme drought, excessive numbers of feral horses and burros, and invasive species and wildfire, we remain poised to rebound when Mother Nature again smiles upon us. Hang tough!
Director, Nevada Department of Wildlife