A Nevada Republican who has publicly feuded with state wildlife officials is sponsoring a bill that would require a court order to suspend a hunting license.
Assemblyman Ira Hansen of Sparks is sponsoring AB142, which was heard Tuesday in the Assembly Natural Resources Committee.
The bill removes the Nevada Department of Wildlife’s demerit-point system for suspending or revoking a hunting license, and it instead authorizes courts and justices to revoke or suspend a license if a person is convicted of a wildlife-related crime.
Hansen, who helped write legislation implementing the demerit system in 1995, said the state’s wildlife department was abusing the system and unfairly targeting him because of his longtime activism against some of the department’s programs. “They can make your life pretty miserable if they want,” he said during the hearing.
Hansen has fought with the state’s wildlife department over allegations of illegal trapping, and he won a court case in November clearing him of about $200 in citations from the agency. The bill gives judges and the court system more leeway in assessing and doling out punishments, he said.
Department of Wildlife Chief Game Warden Tyler Turnipseed said the system has worked well during the past 20 years, and it sets standard and minimum punishments for wildlife crimes.
Turnipseed said judges already have the ability to go beyond the department’s demerit punishments, but said he was concerned that the bill removed the ability of judges to suspend or revoke licenses over misdemeanors.
“Without a judge’s authority to revoke for misdemeanors, a person would not be able to lose their license for shooting a deer out of a helicopter,” he said.
Hansen said he’d be open to dropping the bill if the department considered lowering the demerit schedule back to 2001 levels.