LINCOLN, Neb. – The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission is advising hunters, anglers and other outdoor enthusiasts to honor guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and other health organizations, to avoid spread of coronavirus as they head to the field this spring.
“Outdoor recreation has long been an important part of our way of life for relaxing and getting in touch with nature, and many people are turning to outdoor recreation as they seek comfort during this monumental public crisis,” said Jim Douglas, director of Game and Parks. “As we head outdoors during this time, though, we need to be smart about it and follow physical distancing and other existing guidelines and directives concerning the prevention of coronavirus transfer.”
Under the provisions of an executive order by Gov. Pete Ricketts this week, nonresidents who do not already have a permit for Nebraska’s spring turkey season will not be able to get one.
For the hunters who do have a permit, the agency recommends they stay at least 6 feet away from people they meet, including fellow hunters and property owners. The same advice to physically distance goes for other forms of outdoor recreation, including fishing, hiking and boating.
To avoid face-to-face encounters, hunters should gain permission from landowners in advance by phone or internet and avoid knocking on doors while seeking a place to pursue gobblers. To avoid contact, concerned landowners may put a sign on their door with messaging for any hunters who might visit.
Other guidelines for the public include minimizing travel distance from your home and spreading out. Avoid congested parking lots, trailheads, and other access sites.
Recreationists should research their trip in advance. Campgrounds and other usual amenities may be temporarily closed to the public.
People also should carry all needed supplies for their activities to lessen the chance of encounters with other people while stopping at businesses. Proper hygiene at gas pumps, restrooms, boat ramps and other high-traffic locations is imperative.
Any person who is sick, has a fever of 100.4 degrees or higher, has knowingly been exposed to sick individuals, or has travelled outside of the country or to any areas with the community spread of COVID-19, should remain at home.
Game and Parks response to COVID-19
The agency in late March closed all parks offices and commission offices; service and education centers; and other facilities temporarily. Also closed in April, with a possible extension period, are state park and recreation area lodges, cabins, and public shower buildings.
State parks, recreation areas and campgrounds remain open at this time, as are a limited number of public restrooms, which are sanitized regularly per Centers for Disease Control and Protection recommendations.
For the most up-to-date information on closures and event cancellations or postponements, visit OutdoorNebraska.org/healthinfo.
Editor’s note: Since this press release was issued, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission has prohibited overnight camping at state parks, state recreation areas and wildlife management areas starting Monday, April 6 through Friday, May 8, with a possible extension. This decision is a proactive effort in line with our state and federal partners to prevent the potential for spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus). Find that story here.