LINCOLN – Eight elk were harvested during Nebraska’s first special elk depredation season.
Five bulls and three cows were taken during the July 1-31 season on private land in specific parts of Lincoln, Perkins, Keith, Deuel, and Garden counties.
Commission wildlife administrator Alicia Hardin deemed the month a triumph, saying: “I would call the season a success, with eight elk harvested in a month compared to our general elk season, when five or six elk typically are harvested in six months in this area. This is right in the window of what we anticipated for harvest during this season.”
Game and Parks Commission staff have worked with landowners in this area for several years to lower elk herds to reduce damage to the cropland, including trampling, wallowing and consumption of crops. The small herds that live there stay through harvest, then disperse, making it difficult for hunters to take elk during the late general season.
“The elk removed from this smaller population and the increased pressure to the area should lead to less damage to crop fields,” Hardin said.
Total participation in the season was 179 hunters – 153 residents and 26 nonresidents – who purchased 211 permits. No hunter filled more than one permit and one nonresident was successful in taking an elk.
Permits were available to residents, nonresidents and landowners who own at least 80 acres within the hunting area. Landowners were required to hunt their own land.
The season was designed to allow for as many potential hunters as possible in a geographic area regulated by landowner permission for access. Because permits were unlimited, hunters had time to obtain permission to hunt before buying; generally, when a limited number of permits are issued, there is a rush to obtain available permits whether one has gained access or not.
The special season is not expected to affect the general elk season given the size of the area included in the season — roughly 873 square miles of 23,770 square miles included in the two elk units (North Platte River and Box Elder). Small herds in the special season boundary also may have dispersed due to hunting pressure. Hunters working with landowners in the area can see successful results.