The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission approved recommendations for 2019 deer, antelope and elk hunting seasons at its meeting April 24 at Ponca State Park.
The most significant approved changes to Commission orders for big game include:
— Addition of a second antlerless whitetail bonus tag in the Loup East and Loup East Season Choice Area units to increase antlerless whitetail harvest due to high densities.
— Split of the Niobrara River elk unit in to East and West, and absorb the Boyd Unit into the Niobrara East Unit.
— Split of the Box Elder Unit antlerless elk season for non-landowner permits.
— Addition of a doe/fawn bonus tag on October landowner antelope permits, also making them Season Choice permits, valid in open seasons with weapons legal for each season.
— Shift of deer permits in Pine Ridge from Any Deer to Any Whitetail in response to public reported and research recorded mule deer deaths over winter and spring.
— New allocation of doe/fawn antelope permits in Dismal Late Unit.
— Expansion of the Frenchman West deer unit boundary and increase in Frenchman Antlerless Only Season Choice, Frenchman West Antlerless Only Season Choice and Frenchman Whitetail unit quotas in response to depredation complaints.
The 2019 big game seasons are:
Deer: Archery – Sept. 1-Dec. 31; November Firearm – Nov. 16-24; Muzzleloader – Dec. 1-31; Statewide Buck – Nov. 16-24; Mule Deer Conservation Area – Nov. 16-24, Dec. 1-31; Season Choice Antlerless – Sept. 1-Jan. 15, 2020; River Antlerless Private Land – Sept. 1-Jan. 15, 2020; Youth – Sept. 1-Jan. 15, 2020; Landowner – Sept. 1-Jan. 15, 2020; Statewide Whitetail Buck – Sept. 1-Dec. 31
Antelope: Archery – Aug. 20-Dec. 31; Muzzleloader – Sept. 21-Oct. 6; October Firearm – Oct. 12-27; Late Doe/Fawn – Nov. 1-Jan. 31, 2020
Elk: Archery Bull – Sept. 1-Oct. 31; Firearm Bull – Sept. 21-Oct. 31; Early Antlerless – Aug. 15-Oct. 31; Late Antlerless – Dec. 1-Jan. 15, 2020
A public hearing was held for input regarding the listing and delisting of state threatened and endangered species in the Commission’s District 3, which is northeastern Nebraska. Staff made a presentation on the northern river otter, western silvery minnow, plains minnow, flathead chub and the sicklefin chub.
In addition, the Commission approved the acquisition of 74.97 acres in Banner County adjacent to Williams Gap Wildlife Management Area and designated it as an addition to the area.
Conservation Officer Levi Krause was presented the Award of Valor for his “tireless efforts in helping rescue individuals from their homes during Nebraska’s catastrophic flooding of March 2019.” For four days, he operated his airboat to help first responders evacuate 60 people from their homes amid high winds and rising waters. In addition, all Game and Parks staff who assisted in flooding efforts were recognized for going above and beyond the call of duty to keep people safe.
The Commission also heard several staff updates, including the new Take ’em Fishing challenge, which invites anglers to pledge to take a new or lapsed angler fishing for a chance to win prizes. All of the commissioners took the pledge to accept the challenge.
Service awards also were presented to Hunter Education instructors in northeastern Nebraska. Awards for 30 years of service went to: Theresa Pronske, Ervin Pronske, John Ross, James “Mike” Morgan, Robert Watts, Ken Hoppe, Dan Sutherland and Edwin Wellman. Forty-year awards went to Ken Gill and Charlie Mahler.
There also were reports on bighorn sheep and mule deer research, a presentation on the fish, wildlife and park resources in northeast Nebraska, and a report on how the Spalding Dam/Cedar River Fishway is benefitting fish species.