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Groups donate to Nevada wildfire rehabilitation fund

RENO, Nev. (AP) - Two sportsmen groups have donated a combined $70,000 to help reclaim Nevada lands devastated by wildfire.

Nevada Bighorns Unlimited contributed $50,000, and that donation was followed by $20,000 from Pershing County Chukars Unlimited.

"Hopefully this will start the ball rolling and others will ante up to make this a successful venture," said Dr. Jim Nelson, a veterinarian and vice president of NBU.

The rehabilitation fund was set up by the Reno Chapter of Nevada Bighorns, in cooperation with the Coalition for Nevada's Wildlife and the Nevada Department of Wildlife.

Fires this summer burned nearly 1.5 million acres in Nevada. Most of the damage was in Elko County, where flames destroyed prime range for wildlife and livestock.

This fall, Gov. Kenny Guinn authorized an emergency hunt of mule deer to thin herds in the region to prevent a massive, winter die-off. Biologists said the landscape could not provide adequate food or shelter for the number of deer.

The state wildlife agency issued 1,000 doe tags under the emergency action.

"We lost huge amounts of wildlife habitat in these fires," said Dave Pulliam, NDOW habitat chief. "There is a short window of opportunity to begin rehabilitation efforts as soon as possible."

The agency has already channeled more than $700,000 of habitat conservation fees from hunting and trapping licenses and bond money to rehabilitation efforts, Pulliam said.

But the amount "will only pay for rehabbing about 5 percent of the burned acreage," he said.

"Frankly, we need a lot more money to have a chance of being successful," Pulliam added.

Nelson said the fundraising effort will be ongoing.

"We are reaching out to anyone who loves wildlife," Nelson said. "All the money donated to this fund will go to rehabilitation efforts now and well into the future.

"Since wildfires are a yearly event in Nevada, we plan on keeping this fund going so we can help NDOW better react to wildland rehabilitation needs," he said.

Nevada Department of Wildlife: http://www.ndow.org

Nevada Bighorns Unlimited: http://www.nevadabighorns.org

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