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Commissioners to consider changes to wild turkey seasons for 2023

The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission will consider recommendations for 2023 wild turkey hunting seasons at its June 17 meeting in Lexington.

The meeting begins at 8 a.m. Central time at the Holiday Inn Express, 2605 Plum Creek Parkway.

Turkey populations in Nebraska have declined 45% since their peak between 2008 to 2010. Because of that, staff will recommend changes to regulations and orders that include reducing the spring season personal permit limit from three to two, lowering the fall bag limit from two to one, shortening the fall season to Oct. 1 through Dec. 31, and requiring all turkeys be checked via phone or internet beginning with the Spring 2023 season.

Staff also will recommend a mountain lion season in the Pine Ridge similar to 2022, with a maximum harvest of four cats, with a sublimit of two females. The number of permits issued via lottery will be recommended to be lowered from 320 to 200 for the 2023 season. This change is an effort to boost hunter satisfaction by increasing the probability of a longer season. The harvest objective is to allow the mountain lion population to remain resilient and healthy, while halting growth or moderately reducing the population size. The most recent estimate for the Pine Ridge population from the 2021 genetic survey is 33 mountain lions.

The Commission also will consider approving a 2022 river otter trapping season. The proposed season would be Nov. 1, 2022, through Feb. 28, 2023, or close earlier once 125 otters have been harvested, all other checking requirements will remain the same as last year.

Additionally, the commissioners will consider changes to wildlife regulations that would:

  • Allow for parcel identification numbers to be used on limited landowner hunting permits beginning January 2023.
  • Make it unlawful to possess night vision scopes while hunting game animals and game birds.
  • Clarify language to allow elk hunters to hunt with a centerfire rifle during the November firearm deer season.
  • Add language to make it illegal to create a baited area on lands owned or controlled by Game and Parks.
  • Make it mandatory to check all turkeys after Feb. 1, 2023.
  • Allow antelope taken during the October firearm season to be checked in via telephone or internet.
  • Clarify language that animals trapped must be removed when checking traps.
  • Add the U.S. Forest Service to federal lands where it is unlawful to set body-gripping traps with a jaw spreader larger than 5 inches, with exceptions.
  • Changing the Novice Hunter Education Program for upland game birds to be open to all ages and extend the dates.
  • Clarify language in the Hunters Helping the Hungry program on record keeping and reimbursement processes.

In other business, staff will recommend changes to sportfishing regulations that would make it legal to possess and transport live grass carp and amend the list of water bodies where live baitfish may be possessed or used.

Staff also will provide a report on the Aquatic Habitat Program and an update on communications efforts in west-central Nebraska.

A complete meeting agenda can be found at outdoornebraska.gov/publicnotices. The proposed changes to Commission regulations and orders can be viewed at outdoornebraska.gov/regulations.

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