The focus has been largely on the new commission chairman, Dr. Gerald Lent. As the governor knows, and what the media has consistently ignored, is the fact that Lent is probably one of the most qualified people who has ever been appointed.
Lent grew up in Sparks, attended Robert Mitchell Elementary, the old Sparks Junior High and was the first class to go all four years to the brand new Sparks High School building on 15th Street, graduating in 1957 with high academic honors and participated in athletics.
Contrary to what the media has been reporting, the governor and Chairman Lent did not go to school together; in fact, Gibbons graduated from Sparks in 1962 – five years after Lent.
Dr. Lent has been strongly involved in wildlife issues for the benefit of the sportsmen for more than four decades. He has been a consistent attendant at wildlife commission meetings during that entire time and has served as a watchdog to help keep the Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) accountable. Because he has been willing to bring to the public many issues and facts the bureaucrats would rather keep hidden, his work has been controversial at times because he has stepped on some powerful political toes.
Case in point: hunting tags for bighorn sheep, deer and other big game species. Dr. Lent uncovered evidence some very high ranking government officials were giving highly coveted tags as perks to high-dollar donors and other well-connected types and his expose of this unsavory practice led to the creation of our current tag draw system, a model widely praised nationally for its complete integrity.
Lent served for six years on the Washoe County Advisory Board to Manage Wildlife; was a founding member in creating the Nevada Wildlife Record Book Committee; helped develop the State Duck Stamp program; served on the Board of Directors for several sportsmen’s organizations, and for many has years served as an unpaid lobbyist for sportsmen’s issues at the legislature. And, during all this time, from the mid 1950s to the present, he has held a Nevada hunting and fishing license and has been an active hunter all across Nevada.
In fact, Dr. Lent was the driving force behind making sure the Wildlife Commission actually had true sportsmen on it. The law requires a certain number of “sportsmen,” but did not define what a sportsman was. Several governors appointed so-called sportsmen who, in fact, had little or no actual time hunting or fishing. Disgusted by this total misuse, Lent got the legislature to pass a law insisting that to qualify as a sportsman, you must have held a hunting and fishing license for at least the last two years.
Dr. Lent was also responsible for the legislature adding three additional sportsman positions to the Commission, the addition of which, ironically, was bitterly fought by the same so-called “sportsmen” currently being interviewed by the media in their assault on Gov. Gibbons.
Dr. Lent has served Nevada sportsmen well: His watchdog role has been the catalyst to needed changes and reforms; he has paid his dues both in the field and by serving on various sportsmen boards; and he is well qualified to serve both as a wildlife commissioner and as its chairman.
Gov. Gibbons has made a fine choice, a well qualified selection. The idea that there is some backlash in the rank and file of Nevada’s sportsmen is a media created circus. In truth, Gibbons deserves praise for going to great lengths to find an individual as well qualified as the new chairman of the Nevada State Wildlife commission, Dr. Gerald Lent.
Ira Hansen is a lifelong resident of Sparks, owner of Ira Hansen and Sons Plumbing and his radio talk show can be heard Monday through Friday from 3 to 6 p.m. on 99.1 FM.