LINCOLN, Neb. – The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission approved a mountain lion hunting season for 2020 at its meeting June 21 in Alma.
The season will provide a harvest opportunity for up to eight mountain lions in two sub-units within the Pine Ridge of northwestern Nebraska. The season will allow the population to remain resilient and healthy, while halting growth or moderately reducing the population size. This will initiate a reduction of the population density in the Pine Ridge to one similar to that of other states that allow mountain lion hunting.
The season will be similar to that of 2019, except hunting on public lands will be allowed in both sub-units, shooting hours will be sunrise to sunset, opening day will be Jan. 2, and proof of gender must be naturally attached to a harvested cat when checked.
Season 1 will be Jan. 2-Feb. 29, 2020. The use of dogs will not be permitted during this season. Hunting will be allowed only in two sub-units in the Pine Ridge: a north sub-unit (north of U.S. Hwy. 20) and a south sub-unit (south of U.S. Hwy. 20). Sub-units are designed to distribute harvest throughout the Pine Ridge. Up to four mountain lions, and no more than two females, may be harvested in each sub-unit.
If the limits and/or sub-limits have not been reached in a sub-unit by Feb. 29, then a limited number (equal to the animals remaining in the limit) of permittees will be allowed to hunt with the aid of dogs in an Auxiliary Season. Permits for the Auxiliary Season, which would occur March 15-31, 2020, will be granted to unsuccessful permittees from the initial season via a lottery. The Auxiliary Season will close immediately if the annual harvest limit or female sub-limit is reached before March 31.
The application period will be Sept. 3-27, 2019. 320 permits will be issued in each sub-unit by drawing.
For more information on the 2019 mountain lion season, visit outdoornebraska.gov/mountainlionhunting/. Additional information about mountain lions in Nebraska is available at outdoornebraska.gov/mountainlions.
In other business, the Commission:
— amended regulations regarding practice and procedures for public hearings;
— amended regulations to clarify the process and requirements in applying for limited landowner permits to hunt antelope, deer or turkey; clarify language to allow antelope hunters to carry a centerfire rifle or handgun while hunting the doe/fawn late season; and clarify the application process and compliance for landowners obtaining a damage control permit for deer, antelope, elk or game birds;
— amended regulations regarding check-in requirements for deer units designated as earn-a-buck, and clarify the definitions of “buck” and “antlerless” deer;
— approved the acquisition of approximately, 1,520 acres in Sioux County adjacent to Peterson Wildlife Management Area and designate it an addition to the area;
Also, a public hearing was held regarding the potential delisting of the northern river otter as a state threatened species and the potential listing of the plains minnow as threatened. These species occur in Commission District 5, which is southwestern Nebraska.
The Commission also ratified the agency’s biennium budget for fiscal years 2020 and 2021.
Staff presented the agency’s new Natural Playscapes Guide. This 92-page guide, which was created for park superintendents, communities and schools interested in building natural play areas, is available at OutdoorNebraska.org.
The meeting also included a presentation on the Becoming an Outdoors-Woman program and updates on pheasant research and water issues.
Conservation Officer Tim Williams, who covers Hall, Merrick and Hamilton counties, was presented the Shikar-Safari Wildlife Officer of the Year award for 2019. Shikar-Safari Club International is a conservation-based organization that annually recognizes wildlife law enforcement officers in all states, provinces and territories in the United States and Canada.
The following hunter education instructors were honored for their years of service: 40 Years – Bob Meduna, Wilcox; Marlin Seeman, Aurora; 30 Years – Jerry Archer, Franklin; Robert Nickel, Minden; Steven Schwarz, Arapahoe.