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Nevada Division of Wildlife 
(NDOW) Mission: 
To protect, preserve, manage and restore wildlife and its habitat for their aesthetic, scientific, educational, recreational, and economic benefits to citizens of Nevada and the United States, and to promote the safety of persons using vessels on the waters of NV.


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Changes on Tap for Nevada Boaters

---Mandatory Education & Life Jackets For Kids

Boaters born on or after Jan. 1, 1983, will soon be required to complete a boating education course before operating a boat on Nevada's interstate waters, and children under the age of 12 will need to wear a life jacket when riding in a vessel that is under way.

These and other changes to Nevada's boating laws are mandated by Assembly Bills 469 and 632 that were passed during the state's 2001 legislative session and recently signed into law by Governor Kenny Guinn.

Officials with the Nevada Division of Wildlife (NDOW), the state's boating agency, support the new requirements and feel the changes will save many lives. "We anticipate a significant improvement in boating safety on waters throughout the state, especially through the mandatory education process," said Fred Messmann, NDOW boating law administrator.

"Some boaters may see this as an inconvenience, but the life saved as a result of this program could be their very own or that of someone they love," Messman added.

Nevada joins 29 other states that already require boater education for those who operate vessels on their waterways. That list includes the neighboring states of Idaho and Oregon. Arizona and California do not require boating education. In Utah, however, minors 12 to 17 must complete a specialized course before operating a personal watercraft (PWC) without being accompanied by an adult.

Messmann explained that boating education will only be required for those operators using a motorboat with a motor exceeding 15-horsepower and who are on interstate waters. Those waters include Lake Mead, Lake Mohave, the Colorado River from Davis Dam south to the California state line, Lake Tahoe and Topaz Lake.

The law requires operators to carry proof of having completed a boating education course. Only courses approved by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) will be accepted.

Currently approved courses include those taught by the Coast Guard Auxiliary and the U.S. Power Squadrons; the Navigating Nevada home study course, and Internet courses such as BOAT U.S.

Boaters may challenge the course requirement by taking a proctored proficiency exam. The following persons are exempt: Licensed U.S. or Canadian Coast Guard operators; buyers of a new or used boat up to 60 days; boat renters who receive instruction from a licensed livery operator; nonresidents over 18 years old who meet the education requirements in their home state; boat renters who receive instruction from a licensed livery operator

Operators must carry the certificate or other documentation proving they are eligible for an exempted status. Failure to carry and provide this information when asked by a law enforcement officer is a misdemeanor.

Boaters will be required to submit proof of course completion to NDOW. The boating education bill (AB469) was sponsored by Assemblyman Bob Beers of Las Vegas. In addition to outlining the requirements for boating education, the bill raises the age at which young people can begin operating personal watercraft from 12 to 14 years. The bill's provisions go into effect Jan. 1, 2003.

Just as significant, said Messmann, is the passing of AB 632 introduced by Assembly Speaker Richard Perkins (D-Henderson). With the bill's approval, Nevada became one of 38 states requiring children to wear life jackets while boating. Beginning Oct. 1, 2001, children younger than 12 years of age must wear a Coast Guard approved life jacket when a vessel is under way. In addition, each passenger on a PWC, regardless of age, will be required to wear a life jacket while the boat is under way.

The catalyst behind this bill was a group of 12th grade government students from Foothill High School in Henderson. Members of the group included Ian Massey, Thomas Humphrey, Paul Roland, Sean Sablam and Brittany Murphy. Their idea for mandatory life jacket use was chosen as the winning entry in the Democracy in Action Program, a public policy contest sponsored by Perkins for all interested high school students in his district.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, more than 700 people die in boating accidents each year, 90 percent of whom are not wearing a life jacket. "Thousands of people would be alive today had they taken the simple precaution of wearing a life jacket when they went out on the water," said Virgil Chambers, executive director of the National Safe Boating Council.


Nevada Enjoys Record Setting Elk Season

Elk hunters had a record book season in 1999, highlighted by the harvest of the second largest bull taken in North America during the 20th Century, according to the Nevada Wildlife Record Book Committee.

San Stiver, Nevada Division of Wildlife staff biologist and record book committee member, said a nonresident hunter from Oregon entered the record books by harvesting a six point bull elk, with typical antlers, that scored 425 3/8 points under the internationally recognized Boone and Crockett system for scoring antlers. In addition to being the second largest taken in the 20th Century, it was the fourth largest ever in the U.S.

The bull was harvested on Table Mountain in Game Management Area 16, Unit 161, which is located in the Monitor Mountain Range in Nye County north of Tonopah. Nevada's previous state record scored 397 1/8 points and was taken in 1994 at the lower end of the Schell Creek Range in Management Area 22 in Lincoln County.

A second elk taken in 1999 scored 400 4/8 points and came from the Muleshoe burn in Management Area 22. A world record for non-typical elk was set in Nevada during 1999 with an animal that scored 406 4/8 points, taken from Management Area 8 in Elko County.

Another impressive harvest in 1999 came from Management Area 22 in Lincoln County where a Nevada muzzleloader hunter took a typical bull that scored 384 3/8 points. There were also three other typical elk taken during the year that made Boone and Crockett's record book at 376 points (Area 11), 378 points (Area 7) and 384 points (Area 16).

"Only 30 typical elk have ever been taken that have scored 400 points or more, and Nevada had two in a single year. It's just incredible," Stiver said.

What makes Nevada's 1999 bull elk season results even more impressive, according to Stiver, is that the state harvests slightly under 200 bull elk annually, compared to the 75,000 bulls that are taken each year throughout North America.

"It's safe to say that no state or province has ever had a bull elk season that can match the season Nevada had in 1999," he said. "It was truly phenomenal."