NevadaGram #205 – Hold that Tiger (and those Bears)


I don’t quite know how to introduce the strange place in the desert we visited early in July. Safe Haven Wildlife Refuge billboard, I-80 Nevada at Mill CityIt is only ten miles off Interstate 80 at Mill City but far removed from what you expect to find in the Buena Vista Valley. It’s called Safe Haven Wildlife Sanctuary. You’re welcome to visit, but call ahead first — 775-538-7093 — to make sure the gate is open. From Mill City drive south on Nevada 400; about 10 miles along you’ll pass a small tan cinderblock structure on the right and then take the first road to the right, maybe a quarter mile farther on.

This graded gravel road leads straight to the base of the mountains, but the marked turnoff to Safe Haven is about a half-mile along. Pass through the gate as pre-arranged and continue to the small compound that is headquarters for the fenced and double-gated retirement community for wild animals unfit for the wild.

Photo Tour of Safe Haven Wild Animal RefugeIt is not a zoo, it is a refuge. For a variety of reasons — defanged or declawed, born in captivity — the animals here can’t survive in their natural habitat. The tigers, the bears, the lion, the coyotes and the various cats will live out their lives here.

The extreme fencing is one of many requirements imposed to ensure the animals don’t wander off. The enclosures are quite spacious, furnished with shade and climbing platforms, and constantly overseen and maintained by a paid staff of two and as many as five interns depending on the season.

Black Bear at Safe Haven Wildife Refuge, Nevada
Photo Tour
African Serval at Safe Haven Wildife Refuge, Nevada
Bengal tiger at Safe Haven Wildlife Refuge
Bengal tiger at Safe Haven Wildlife Refuge, Nevada
Bobcat at Safe aven Wildlife Refuge
White tiger at Safe Haven Wildlife Refuge, Nevada

Safe Haven Tours

Tours of the grounds are available seven days a week, at 9 am, 11 am or 1 pm depending on the season, by appointment only (775-538-7093).

  • Personal tours are available to the general public and offer a comprehensive view of our facility and residents for $10 per adult. Kids 12 and under are $7.
  • Educational tours are available to classrooms hosting children in grades 1-12 for a nominal fee. These tours offer children a first-hand educational experience with exotic wildlife and well-researched presentations from our staff.
  • Photography tours are open to amateur and professional photographers for $50 an hour, with a 2-hour minimum. Meet our residents, while exercising your creative muscles.

Demanding as the care and feeding of the residents can be, raising the money that pays for it isn’t easy either. White tiger at Safe Haven Wildlife Refuge, NevadaCorporate sponsors include mining companies active in the area and a number of foundations that have supported the effort since it relocated here in 2006. In addition to the daily tours described at right, fundraising events include a Full Moon Tour just completed (Snores ‘n’ Roars), and a Tee off for Tigers golf tournament held at Reno’s Arrowcreek Country Club on Saturday, September 29.

This story began more than 20 years ago when Lynda Sugasa was driving in rural Illinois and saw a little raccoon lying beside the road. She stopped and began a frustrating search for help that taught her how little help is available for injured wildlife, and how hard it is to find.

She eventually located an animal rehab center where the raccoon was taken in and by the time it was released back into the wild, Lynda had enrolled as a volunteer. There she helped heal and rehab the local wildlife brought in for treatment: orphaned fawns, injured opossums and flying squirrels, all kinds of critters to be restored to health and released back into the wild.

As America celebrated the 4th of July 2016, four African servals and two caracals, approximately 2-6 months old were seized from individual who had allegedly intended to sell them illegally as pets.

In 1998 Lynda and her husband David established the 5-acre Safe Haven Wildlife Sanctuary in Illinois, and for the next eight years they cared for and reintroduced hundreds of native fauna, and took in an increasing number of abandoned and surrendered exotics. These can’t be reintroduced to their original habitats even if they haven’t been declawed and/or defanged by previous owners, because they’ve become habituated to humans and lack appropriate fear, or they’ve never learned survival skills in the wild.

The required security improvements and the space limitations impinged on the operation. David Sugasa had been baptized in Winnemucca and has relatives in Lovelock; his awareness led them to Buena Vista Valley.

In the dozen years since they arrived, Lynda, David, the Board of Directors, the interns and volunteers have made the Refuge into a highly respected, fully licensed and accredited facility that receives rescued animals from all over the USA and around the world. Neighboring ranchers, wary at first, have become enthusiastic supporters.

Safe Haven’s suggestions for necessary animal rescues

1. Prepare a container. Place a soft cloth on the bottom of a cardboard box with a lid, a cat or dog carrier will work as well. Make sure there are air holes. For smaller animals, you can use a paper bag with air holes punched in.
2. Protect yourself. If possible, wear heavy gloves. Some animals may bite or scratch to try and protect themselves, even if they are injured or sick. Wild animals commonly have parasites such as fleas, lice and ticks, and may carry diseases.
3. Cover the animal with a light sheet or towel.
4. Gently pick up the animal and put it in the prepared container.
5. Warm the animal if it’s cold out or if the animal shows signs of being chilled. Put one end of the container on a heating pad set on low or fill a Ziploc bag with warm water. Wrap it in cloth and put it next to the animal. Make sure the container doesn’t leak or the animal will get wet, increasing its chill.
6. Tape the box shut or roll the top of the paper bag closed.
7. Note exactly where you found the animal. This will be very important for later release.
8. Keep the animal in warm, dark quiet place. Do no handle it. Do not give it food or water. Keep children and pets away.
9. Contact a wildlife rehabilitator, state wildlife agency or wildlife veterinarian as soon as possible. Don’t keep the animal at your home longer than necessary. Keep the animal in a container; don’t let it loose in your house or car.
10. Wash your hands after contact with the animal. Wash anything the animal came in contact with such as towels, jackets, blankets and pet carrier. This will prevent the spread of diseases or parasites to you or your pets.
11. Get the animal to a wildlife rehabilitator as soon as possible.

Make a visit to Safe Haven, maybe you will become a supporter too.

Editor’s Choice

Kids at Burning Man

Bringing Kids to Burning Man

So, you’ve decided to bring the kids? Great! It may prove to be the best field trip you could ever take them on.

With a little thought and care, the experience can be more fun for you, your kids, and everyone around you. If you’ve taken your kids camping, you’re already halfway there. Many of these ideas apply to different age ranges, of course, so make your judgments based on your kids’ ages and abilities.

Anybody under 18 years of age must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian aged 21 or older in Black Rock City. Read More Here

Independence Lake

Bikepacking in Northern Nevada

Gravel Rides, Summer 2018

by Kurstin Graham

I went into Great Basin Bicycles to chat with Rich Staley asking what was hot in bikes for 2018. Gravel bikes were at the top of the list along with mountain hardtails and full suspension trail bikes. From other popularity reports I’ve gotten I think 2018 will be the year of the gravel bike.

While the discussion of what is a gravel bike might be lengthy, let it be a fat tired (28mm and wider) disc brake road bike.

Read More Here

Here’s your invitation to Nevada’s Reno-Tahoe Territory.

Five Years Ago in the NevadaGram

Since late in 2010 the necessity of defending the Virginia City National Historic Landmark against surface mining has meant interrupting the NevadaGram from time to time.

Comstock Mining Inc is hard at work putting toxic dust into our air

Comstock Mining Inc is hard at work putting toxic dust
into our air.

Compared to the other frustrations and annoyances we and our neighbors have been subjected to since the arrival of CMI, this is minor but it still leaves gaps in the story.

I’m now filling these gaps retroactively by writing Updates about the open pit mining situation here.

I started in January, working forward to catch up, and backward as I can find the time (I have the complete CRA archive of correspondence and documents to draw from).

The Updates are all presented below, most recent at the top.

Read the whole thing here

Overheard at Cafe Del Rio in Virginia City: If you break your neck, if you have nothing to eat, if your house is on fire, then you’ve got a problem. Everything else is an inconvenience. Life is inconvenient. Life is lumpy. A lump in the oatmeal, a lump in the throat, and a lump in the breast are not the same kind of lump. One needs to learn the difference.

Ten Years Ago in the NevadaGram

John Toll back home in Gold HillMy son John and I arrived in Elko late on a sunny summer afternoon.

photo by Max Winthrop

Elko: the coolest little city in the world.

John had spent 15 months as a platoon leader in Baghdad, and this excursion into the sagebrush was our first chance to spend time together since his return to the States. We’d spent our second day traveling from Winnemucca by way of Golconda, Midas and Tuscarora, and we were ready for a taste of city life.

And what a tasty little city Elko has become! It’s a favorite of mine, right up there with Paris, Prague, and Pahrump.

photo by Max Winthrop

Upstairs at Capriola’s: old Elko.

Elko still shows its cowtown roots everywhere you look, but it’s also showing cosmopolitan touches it never had before.

The best place to see this for yourself is on the sidewalk at Fifth and Commercial Street. Capriola’s is on the same corner it has occupied since time immemorial, selling everything for the rancher, cowboy and dude. Downstairs is a rich display of snap-button shirts, broad-brimmed hats, tooled belts and purses, and precious metal doodads ranging from belt buckles to spurs.

Upstairs is the rope and saddle shop and a small museum dedicated to the shop’s heritage which dates back to the famous J.S. Garcia store established in the late 19th century. This is the Elko your grandfather would recognize, and you’re welcome to come up and have a look.

Read the whole thing here

What They’re saying About Us: “Let’s make Hoover Dam into a giant battery.”

15 Years Ago in the NevadaGram

The First Annual Festival in the Pit was a huge success, and Battle Mountain is still experiencing the bliss.

Battle Mountain Armpit billboardThis flamboyant and flourishing offspring of the Ultimate Insult and the Old Spice deodorant company, drew several thousand visitors over its three-day run. Visitors enjoyed a varied schedule of activities and events at Elquist and Lions Parks and informal activities at the Owl Club and other hot spots around town. Hot spots in Battle Mountain? Yes, and a big parade. Gene Weingarten, author of the Washington Post Magazine article which branded Battle Mountain as The Armpit of America, was an honored guest. There will be a statue of him here some day, he’s done more for Battle Mountain than anyone since the railroad came through.  [ MORE photos and stories about the Old Spice Festival in the Pit ]

Read the whole thing here

Parting Shot —



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