Nebraska’s inaugural mountain lion hunting season will take place in 2014. The Nebraska Game and Parks Board of Commissioners approved regulations for the season at their meeting July 26 in Lincoln.

Up to four mountain lions may be harvested next year in the Pine Ridge, the only area of the state known to have a reproducing population of the big cats. Areas open to mountain lion hunting in the remainder of the state will have an unlimited harvest quota.

Four units have been created to manage mountain lions, although only two will be open to hunting in 2014. Up to four mountain lions may be harvested in the Pine Ridge Unit next year. The Keya Paha and Upper Platte units will be closed until a huntable population exists and an unlimited number of mountain lions may be harvested in the Prairie Unit, which makes up the remainder of the state not included in the other three units. The Pine Ridge, Keya Paha and Upper Platte units have the same boundaries as the deer management units that go by the same names.

The objective for the Pine Ridge Unit is to provide a harvest opportunity while allowing a slight to moderate reduction in mountain lion population. The Pine Ridge Unit will have two seasons, with harvest quotas of two mountain lions for each. The first season is Jan. 1-Feb. 14. One permit will be issued by auction to a resident or nonresident and one will be issued by lottery to a resident. Both may hunt with dogs. The first season will close immediately once the quota of two mountain lions or sub-quota of one female is met.

The second season in the Pine Ridge is Feb. 15-March 31. There will be 100 lottery permits issued to residents, but hunting with dogs is not allowed. The season will close immediately once the quota of two mountain lions or sub-quota of one female is met.

The objective of the Prairie Unit is to provide unlimited hunting opportunity in the part of the state that is unlikely to establish a breeding population of mountain lions. The season is open year-round and an unlimited number of permits are available. Permits will cost $15. Hunting with dogs is allowed only Jan. 1-March 31.

The use of traps or bait is prohibited while hunting mountain lions.

The application period for the Pine Ridge Unit is Sept. 3-30. Applications for the Prairie Unit will be accepted Dec. 16, 2013-Dec. 31, 2014. The nonrefundable application fee is $15.

In other business, the commissioners voted to not accept waterfowl, crow and falconry recommendations. They directed wildlife staff to amend proposals and submit them for the next meeting, Aug. 30 in Valentine. The new proposals will include the following changes based on U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recommendations:

  • Raising the possession limit on migratory game birds from two times the daily bag limit to three times the daily bag limit;
  • Raising the daily bag limit on canvasbacks from one to two;
  • Raising the daily bag limit on Canada goose from three to five;
  • Reducing the daily bag limit on scaup from six to two.

The following are the waterfowl, crow and falconry season dates the board will consider at the August meeting:

  • Early Teal – Low Plains: Sept. 7-22; High Plains: Sept. 7-15
  • Youth – Zone 1: Oct. 5-6; Zone 2: Sept. 28-29; Zone 3: Oct. 19-20; Zone 4: Sept. 28-29
  • Ducks and Coots – Zone 1: Oct. 12 – Dec. 24; Zone 2, Low Plains, Oct. 5 – Dec. 17, High Plains, Oct. 5 – Dec. 17 and Jan. 5-26; Zone 3: Low Plains, Oct. 23 – Jan. 4, High Plains, Oct. 23 – Jan. 4 and Jan. 5-26; Zone 4: Oct. 5 – Dec. 17
  • Dark Geese – East Unit: Oct. 28 – Feb. 9; North Central Unit: Oct. 5 – Jan. 17; Platte River Unit: Oct. 28 – Feb. 9; Panhandle Unit: Oct. 28 – Feb. 9; Niobrara Unit: Oct. 28 – Feb. 9
  • White-Fronted Geese – Oct. 5 – Dec. 13 and Feb. 1-2
  • Light Geese Regular Season – Oct. 5 – Jan. 1 and Jan. 25 – Feb. 9
  • Light Geese Conservation Order – Rainwater Basin Zone: Feb. 10 – April 1; Prairie Zone 2: Feb. 10 – April 1
  • Crows – Regular Season: Oct. 1-Nov. 15 and Jan. 20-April 6; Special Public Health Hazard Order: Nov. 16-Jan. 19
  • Falconry – Concurrent with teal, youth and duck season dates, plus, Zone 1: Feb. 25 – March 10; Zone 2: Feb. 25 – March 10 in Low Plains; concurrent with High Plains duck season dates in High Plains; Zone 3: Feb. 25 – March 10 in Low Plains; concurrent with High Plains duck season dates in High Plains; Zone 4: Feb. 25 – March 10

The commissioners also approved:

  • A recommendation to allow restricted hunting in designated portions of Niobrara, Ponca, Indian Cave, Eugene T. Mahoney and Platte River state parks, as well as Fort Atkinson, Ash Hollow and Rock Creek Station state historical parks.
  • An interlocal agreement with the City of Gothenburg to rehabilitate the fish community and its supporting habitat in Lake Helen, a 30-acre lake in Dawson County. The total project cost is $1.5 million, with $600,000 coming from Game and Parks.
  • A flood protection levee easement for the Peru Dike and Drainage District No. 1 of Nemaha County to build, maintain and operate a levee by accessing Peru Bottoms Wildlife Management Area (WMA).
  • Acquisition of 461 acres of land in Cherry County to be designated as Chat Canyon WMA. The area will be jointly managed with the Nebraska Forest Service. It will provide a forest demonstration as well as wildlife diversity and hunting.

Also, Gov. Dave Heineman made an appearance at the meeting and drew the winning entry in the Nebraska Super Tag Lottery. Jameson Wood, a 14-year-old from Hemingford, won the four-species (deer, elk, antelope and turkey) hunting permit out of 2,047 entries. The permit is valid for 2013 and 2014.

NEBRASKAland Magazine was recognized for earning three awards at the recent Association for Conservation Information conference in Utah. The magazine took second place for best overall publication, first place for historical or cultural article (“A.H. “Captain” Hardy Saddle Maker and Marksmen Extraordinaire,” by Jon Farrar) and first place for book (A Field Guide to Wildflowers of Nebraska and the Great Plains, by Farrar).

The commissioners passed a resolution bestowing the title of Distinguished Fellow on Harold W. Andersen, former publisher of the Omaha World-Herald and longtime member of the Nebraska Game and Parks Foundation. The resolution, in part, states that Andersen “is an advocate with voice and pen for Nebraska’s natural, cultural and parkland resources so that future generations can enjoy, learn and experience all that the Great State of Nebraska has to offer.” The award will be the highest honor given by Game and Parks.

Game and Parks was recognized for earning a Special Achievement in GIS Award at the recent Esri International User Conference in San Diego. Game and Parks uses Esri ArcGIS technology for scientific research conservation planning, habitat management, infrastructure management, public information, education and outreach, and environmental reviews.

Several volunteer instructors were recognized for their service to the Hunter Education Program. The following awards were given: Michael Jochum, Beatrice, Instructor of the Year; John Cariotto, Lincoln, Master Instructor of the Year; Elmer Johnstone, Omaha, Metro Area Instructor of the Year. Awards for 30 years of service went to Johnstone; Dennis Bridge, Royal; Kenneth Dixon, Lyons; Lawrence and Margaret Ford, North Bend; Glen Hogue, Auburn; and Loren Pogreba, Seward.

Logo courtesy Nebraska Game and Parks Commission

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