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Commission approves 2022 big game hunting recommendations

The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission approved recommendations for 2022 deer, antelope and elk hunting seasons at its meeting April 28 at Niobrara State Park.

Commissioners approved staff recommendations that will help the agency manage big game populations at socially acceptable levels, address declining mule deer populations in some areas of the state, and maintain resident access to hunting permits.

Adopted changes to Commission orders pertaining big game hunting include:

  • adding the Pine Ridge deer management unit into the Mule Deer Conservation Area,
  • creating permit quotas on Statewide Whitetail Buck and Restricted Statewide Buck permits,
  • establishing a sales cap on nonresident either-sex or buck-only deer permits for all permits except landowner and youth,
  • adjustments of elk and antelope limited landowner permit quotas to 75% of the general permit quota to meet statute change, and
  • minor adjustments on other deer, elk and antelope permits to meet management objectives.

The approved 2022 big game season dates are:

Deer:

Archery – Sept. 1-Dec. 31; November Firearm – Nov. 12-20; Muzzleloader – Dec. 1-31; Late Antlerless Only Firearm – Jan. 1-15, 2023; October River Antlerless Firearm – Oct. 1-15; River Antlerless Late Firearm – Jan. 1-31, 2023; Antlerless Only Season Choice – Sept. 1-Jan. 15, 2023; Youth – Sept. 1-Jan. 15, 2023; Limited Landowner – Sept. 1-Jan. 15, 2023; Special Landowner – Nov. 5-7

Antelope:

Archery – Aug. 20-Dec. 31; Muzzleloader – Sept. 17-Oct. 2; Firearm – Oct. 8-23; Late doe/fawn – Nov. 1-Jan. 31, 2023

Elk:

Archery bull – Sept. 1-Oct. 31; Firearm bull – Sept. 21-Oct. 31; Antlerless – Aug. 1-Jan. 31, 2023; Antlerless, Private Land Only – Aug. 1-Sept. 20; Early General Antlerless – Aug. 1-Oct. 31; Late General Antlerless – Nov. 1-Jan. 31, 2023

In other business, the commissioners heard a staff update on the Take ’em Fishing challenge, which recently began its fourth season. The challenge encourages anglers to take beginners fishing, snap a photo, then upload it to a website to be eligible to win prizes.

Staff also gave a report on the change in status of wolves. Following a Feb. 10 court order, gray wolves in the contiguous 48 states and Mexico, except the Northern Rocky Mountain population, now are protected under the Endangered Species Act as threatened in Minnesota and endangered in the remaining states, including Nebraska.

The commissioners heard updates on projects at Fort Atkinson State Historical Park, a fisheries public meeting at Lake McConaughy, walleye spawning, and shooting ranges and programs, and heard from Sen. Tim Gragert, who discussed future recreation opportunities and partnerships to benefit Nebraska.

Dean Rosenthal, Fisheries Division administrator, was honored for his 45 years of service to Game and Parks. Gary Howie and Bill Christiansen, both of Hartington, also were honored for 30 years of volunteer service as Hunter Education instructors.

The commission and Sen. Gragert presented a certificate of appreciation and recognition to Niobrara State Park Superintendent Cogan Thompson for his service to the country. Thompson, a Nebraska Army National Guardsman, recently completed a tour of duty in a conflict zone in East Africa.

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