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Nebraskans encouraged to vote for a state reptile

LINCOLN, Neb. – The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission is hoping to raise awareness for the state’s reptile species by encouraging all citizens to vote for a state reptile. Nebraska’s state symbols include western meadowlark, white-tailed deer, goldenrod, honeybee and cottonwood. The state lacks a designated state reptile, however. Nebraska is home to 48 species of reptiles, including snakes, turtles and lizards. That list has been narrowed to six species: ornate box turtle, common snapping turtle, bullsnake, western hognose snake, …

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White-nose syndrome confirmed in Nebraska

LINCOLN, Neb. – White-nose syndrome (WNS), a fungal disease that affects hibernating bats, has been confirmed in Nebraska. The disease was confirmed after several dozen dead bats were discovered during a recent survey of a mine in Cass County. The U.S. Geological Survey’s National Wildlife Health Center in Madison, Wisconsin, confirmed the disease in three bats from the mine – a little brown bat, a northern long-eared bat and a tri-colored bat. Nebraska is the 30th state to confirm the …

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Public encouraged to report whooping crane sightings

LINCOLN, Neb. – The entire population of whooping cranes in the Central Flyway is expected to migrate through Nebraska over the next several weeks. The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission encourages the public to report whooping crane sightings. Information on crane sightings is used to affect whooping crane conservation and recovery efforts positively. Report any sightings to Game and Parks (402-471-0641), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (308-379-5562), or The Crane Trust’s Whooper Watch hotline (1-888-399-2824). Emails may be submitted to …

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Tests confirm spread of CWD to Lancaster County

LINCOLN, Neb. – A sick deer in Lancaster County tested positive for chronic wasting disease (CWD), a fatal neurological disease, in early March. This is the first known case of CWD in Lancaster County.  CWD is a degenerative disease that attacks the brain of an infected deer or elk, eventually causing emaciation, listlessness and death. It is generally thought that CWD is transmitted from animal to animal through the exchange of bodily fluids, but other modes of transmission may exist. …

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Mild weather bringing more sandhill cranes

LINCOLN, Neb. – Numbers of sandhill cranes on the Central Platte River during the spring migration typically peak in the third week of March. That seems to be changing. Close to 195,000 cranes are on the Central Platte as of Feb. 27, according to an aerial survey by the Crane Trust. That figure was around 66,000 just a week ago. Numbers should continue to build with continuing mild weather and viewing should be favorable going forward. The aerial survey detected …

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A Fan of the State Tree

As Nebraska celebrates its 150th year of statehood, an iconic, representative symbol of the state is the official tree — the native cottonwood. The 1972 legislature named the cottonwood (Populus deltoides) as the state tree, replacing the original selection made in 1937 — the American elm (Ulmus Americana L.). The cottonwood was chosen because many elm trees had been killed by Dutch elm disease and it is rooted in Nebraska’s pioneer history. I have great admiration for the cottonwood tree. I can …

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Game and Parks earns national conservation award from NWTF

LINCOLN, Neb. — The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission received the Land Stewardship Award from the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) on Feb. 16 during the 41st annual NWTF Convention and Sport Show in Nashville, Tenn. The award was presented to the Commission for promoting responsible forest management, wood procurement and manufacturing practices for the benefit of the nation’s forests, wildlife and people. The Commission and the NWTF have a long history of partnering to enhance wildlife habitats across Nebraska. …

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How To Cook Your Goose: Tasty Light Geese

Hey, who says that snow and Ross’s geese are not good to eat, huh? No, they’re not cat food, garden fertilizer, “sky carp,” “bad lutefisk with feathers,” “over-cooked catcher’s mitts,” or any other derogatory  names you want to call them! With these geese, it’s just the opposite! Please don’t roll your eyes. Bear with me. Snow geese and Ross’s geese, defined as light geese,  have dark, richly flavored meat. They can be quite delicious, if, and I mean, if, you take adequate care of them in the field, prepare them …

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Bighorn sheep tracking effort sets sights on future lambs

Releasing bighorn ewe

CHADRON, Neb. — The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission got up-close and personal with 20 bighorn sheep ewes this week in an effort to track their future offspring. The goal is to get a handle on the species’ population struggles in the Pine Ridge area of northwestern Nebraska. With the help of a helicopter wildlife capturing crew and others, Commission staff on Tuesday through Thursday, Feb. 14-16, equipped 20 pregnant female sheep with a device to immediately detect when lambs …

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View sandhill cranes at Fort Kearny SHP

LINCOLN, Neb. – Sandhill crane enthusiasts are invited to visit Fort Kearny State Historical Park to enjoy the spring migration. The visitor center will open daily March 3 – April 9 from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Staff will answer questions and direct visitors to viewing areas. One popular viewing location is the hike-bike bridge over the Platte River at Fort Kearny State Recreation Area. The bridge is one-third mile from the parking area. The best viewing times are a half hour …

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