The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission adopted wildlife regulations that enacted a Special Landowner Deer Season and allowed the purchase of a bonus or a preference point with regard to big game hunting at its Jan. 13 meeting in Lincoln.
The Special Landowner Deer Season and purchase of a bonus or a preference point were created by the passage of LB 126 and LB 287, respectively, in the Nebraska Legislature’s 2020 session.
The Special Landowner Deer Season will allow a qualifying landowner as many as four permits to designate themselves or immediate family to hunt on his or her property on the Saturday, Sunday and Monday before the opening of the November firearm deer season. No more than two permits will be issued to persons older than age 19 and two permits to persons younger than 19.
Points are awarded when hunters are unsuccessful in several of Nebraska’s big game drawings. Preference point based drawings allow hunters with the most points the best chance at drawing permits. Bonus point drawings, on the other hand, give hunters an additional entry in the drawing for each point or year that they were unsuccessful in drawing. Allowing the purchase of a bonus or a preference point will allow hunters to accumulate points in years that they do not want to draw.
Additional wildlife regulations adopted at the meeting clarify draw units, how forfeited permits may be handled, staggering the sale of over-the-counter permits, and alter the residency qualifications for one auction elk permit.
In other business, the commissioners approved the following grant awards for the Land and Water Conservation Fund Stateside Assistance Program:
• City of Lincoln, $400,000 for Irvingdale-Rudge Park campus improvements;
• Village of Chambers, $80,200 for a splash pad;
• City of Waverly, $400,000 for the Waverly Aquatic Center;
• City of West Point, $166,175.92, for City of West Point Trails and Pathway;
• Village of Hemingford, $57,000 for a splash pad;
• Village of Lynch, $75,870.50 for a splash pad; and
• Village of Malcolm, $340,000 for the Malcolm ball field expansion.
Also, the commissioners approved the 2021-2025 Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan, which evaluates the supply and demand for outdoor recreation opportunities and summarizes state and regional demographics. It also provides guidance on future development of park lands through the goals and Land and Water Conservation Fund priority projects. Communities and outdoor recreation professionals are encouraged to use the data and guidance within the Plan when planning for outdoor recreation projects.
Staff presented an update on efforts nationwide and in Nebraska to recruit, retain and reactivate hunters, shooters and anglers.
The commissioners also heard the staff 2021 marketing plan, which includes Game and Parks’ centennial celebration of its parks system.
The eastern spotted skunk once was common in Nebraska. Its populations started declining in the 1940s and 50s due, in part, to loss of suitable habitat. Staff gave a report on an effort to begin setting camera traps this winter on state-controlled and partner lands to determine locations of skunks. It is part of a larger effort to survey eastern spotted skunks involving 28 states.
Commissioners also heard a presentation from the volunteer organization Trails Have Our Respect, which designs and builds mountain bike trails.
Dan Kreitman of Wahoo was re-elected as chairman of the Commission. Pat Berggren of Broken Bow and Rick Brandt of Roca were re-elected as vice chairman and 2nd vice chairman, respectively.