Outdoor notes: Commission reminds public of landowner resources for those with wildlife damage

LINCOLN, Neb – The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission is proactively working with landowners who have encountered wildlife damage to their crops and property.

“Crop and livestock damage can be a serious issue for many landowners,” said Commission Director Jim Douglas. “We understand this and need to let landowners know what tools we have to help them, and listen to their ideas about other ways to resolve these problems.”

This week, the Commission is hosting public meetings in Wauneta, Oxford and McCook to better understand landowner issues and to let them know of strategies the agency is using to mitigate wildlife damage issues.

The Commission is working to increase antlerless deer harvest by 30 percent in the Frenchman West Unit in southwest Nebraska. To reach this goal, the Commission will increase antlerless deer permits by 25 percent and offer an increased number of damage permits.

Landowners who experience wildlife damage should contact their district Commission office. They can discuss options such as scare devices, damage control permits and opening lands to public access for hunting. Contact information for district offices is available at OutdoorNebraska.org/locations. Landowners also may contact the Commission about wildlife damage issues at OutdoorNebraska.org/depredation by filling out a Landowner Assistance Form.

Landowners and hunters both are important to managing wildlife; together with the Commission, they are the driving force for wildlife conservation in Nebraska. Landowners provide habitat and access for hunting games species. Hunters and anglers fund conservation efforts in Nebraska by buying permits and stamps; those funds are invested back into programs for private landowners that both benefit wildlife and provide access for recreational opportunities, big game research, and maintaining 289 wildlife management areas that encompass 188,291 acres.

Hunting has an annual $848 million economic impact in Nebraska and supports nearly 9,000 jobs. Hunters, anglers and park-goers travel from around the world to take advantage of Nebraska’s mixed bag opportunities for hunting and to watch wildlife.

The Commission is charged with managing all wildlife in the state. It strives to find a balance between healthy wildlife populations, opportunities for hunting, and keeping deer and all game populations at socially acceptable levels.

Four southeast urban lakes stocked with rainbow trout

LINCOLN, Neb. – Four urban lakes in southeast Nebraska were stocked with rainbow trout April 2.

The Grove Trout Rearing Station in Antelope County stocked the following lakes: Humboldt City Park Lake, 350 trout; Auburn Rotary Club Lake, 800; Stanton Lake, Falls City, 200; and Pawnee City Pond, 300.

Scheduled trout stockings across Nebraska may be delayed because of inclement weather and recent flooding, which impacted roads and hatcheries. An updated scheduled will be provided when conditions improve. Visit outdoornebraska.gov/fishstockingreports for more information.

Permit required for tractors at Lake McConaughy SRA

NORTH PLATTE, Neb. – The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission is reminding park visitors and area residents of the mandatory permitting process for tractors operating on the beaches of Lake McConaughy State Recreation Area (SRA).

Game and Parks has created a simple, required permitting process that follows state park regulations and allows for more towing operations on McConaughy’s beaches. All tractors are required to obtain an annual permit, regardless of whether they are for commercial or private use. There is currently no fee for the permit and an application can be picked up at the Lake McConaughy Visitor/Water Interpretive Center or can be requested via email atcolby.johnson@nebraska.gov.

Liability insurance is required for any permit issuance. Contact Colby Johnson at 308-284-8804 or colby.johnson@nebraska.gov for more information.

Game and Parks seeks input on Lake McConaughy boat ramp improvements

LINCOLN, Neb. – The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission is soliciting public input for motorized boat ramp improvements at Lake McConaughy’s Martin Bay and Cedar View.

Game and Parks will receive input through April 15. Visit http://outdoornebraska.gov/lakemcconaughy/ to see information about the project and to submit input.

Game and Parks seeks input only on the boat ramp improvements and not Lake McConaughy in general.

Learn new outdoor skills at BOW workshops

LINCOLN, Neb. – Women interested in making new friends and learning how to better enjoy the outdoors can sign up for fun, hands-on workshops this spring and summer that teach outdoor activities such as kayaking, hunting and fishing.

Part of the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission’s Becoming an Outdoors-Woman (BOW) series, workshops take place outdoors and focus on a single topic such as hunting, fishing, outdoor cooking or kayaking. They may be held over the course of half a day, a weekend, or several evenings.

Workshops are tailored primarily to beginners, and, participants say, give them the skills and confidence to try activities they always wanted to do.

“After participating in some of the sessions I bought a kayak that I use and a Dutch oven for camping. I even take my grandchildren fishing without worrying about who’s going to take the fish off the hook,” writes BOW participant Jill DeJung. “The BOW weekends have taught me new skills, introduced me to new friends – and I enjoy the outdoors even more now.”

The following are just a selection of classes that are available:

— Overnight Backpacking, April 13-14, Indian Cave State Park: Women will learn how to plan and pack for an overnight backpacking trip, as well as other basic backpacking skills.

— Experience Platte River State Park, April 27, Platte River State Park: Experience the park’s beauty and treasures while enjoying the shooting and archery range, hiking trails and a campfire lunch.

— Lunch and Archery Lessons; May 2, 9, 16, 23, 30; the Nebraska Game and Parks Outdoor Education Center, Lincoln: Perfect for beginners, this series provides a thorough introduction to archery – lunch included.

— Ladies Handgun Series; June 5, 12, 19; Platte River State Park: Learn the fundamentals of shooting, handgun selection and safety in a comfortable atmosphere.

Space is limited, so make sure to reserve your spot early. For more information and to register, visit OutdoorNebraska.gov/bow. A park permit is required to enter a state park area.

Two Rivers SRA Trout Lake closed for foreseeable future

LINCOLN, Neb. – Due to damage caused by recent flooding, Two Rivers State Recreation Area’s Trout Lake will not be open for put-and-take trout fishing for the foreseeable future.

The lake flooded and must be assessed to determine the potential impact of other species of fish from the river system. The access road to Two Rivers, as well as interior roads, also was damaged.

Weather conditions prevented the Trout Lake from being stocked as scheduled in early March. Instead, those trout now will be stocked at various lakes that already have been stocked this spring.

One exception is Omaha’s Fontenelle Park Pond, which will be added to the stocking list because of its size and proximity to Two Rivers. The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission will announce the stocking date when it is set.

The additional stockings are due to extraordinary circumstances related to March flooding and are not expected to be repeated in the future.

Also, the Grove Trout Rearing Station stocked 2,200 trout at the Ponca State Park pond on April 3.

Visit outdoornebraska.gov/fishstockingreports for more stocking information.

Officials say Nebraska still tops for turkey, but advise preparedness

LINCOLN, Neb. – Nebraska Game and Parks Commission officials say recent extreme weather events have not changed the state’s status as the best turkey hunting destination in the nation, but the conditions may have made the birds harder to access in many areas.

Because of closed roads, washouts and water damage in some areas of the state, the Commission encourages turkey hunters traveling from afar to research conditions to ensure their hunting spots are accessible by vehicle.

The Nebraska 511 Travel Information website shows which state highways have been closed or labeled with other vehicle restrictions. For information about accessing specific wildlife management areas, hunters can visit OutdoorNebraska.org/weatherclosures or contact a Nebraska Game and Parks Commission office. The Commission advises hunters to obey all road signs.

Sizable numbers of turkeys are still being observed across the state, including birds of the Merriam’s subspecies in northwestern Nebraska. While no significant losses of turkeys were reported from the flooding and blizzard, the birds’ locations and routines may have been altered in some places. For instance, the flooding may have caused some turkeys to move from the banks of flooded creeks and rivers and head for higher ground.

The Nebraska youth shotgun season, which features popular $8 permits for budding hunters, begins Saturday, April 6. The spring archery season for hunters of all ages began March 25 and the shotgun season begins April 13. All of the seasons run through May 31.

Nebraska allows hunters to buy up to three permits “over-the-counter” in the spring, each good for one bearded turkey. Permits are available online, from permitting offices, or by mail. The state also features mobile permits for those who prefer to go paper-free.

For turkey permits, hunting tips, a map of public land and a variety of other information about pursuing the big birds, visit outdoornebraska.org and nebraskalandmagazine.com.