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Commissioners to consider mountain lion, river otter seasons

LINCOLN, Neb. – The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission will consider recommendations for a 2022 mountain lion hunting season, as well as a 2021 river otter harvest season, at its June 11 meeting in Chadron.

The meeting begins at 8 a.m. Mountain time at Chadron State Park’s Central Building, 15951 U.S. Hwy. 385.

Staff will recommend a mountain lion season in the Pine Ridge, identical to the 2021 season, that would have a maximum harvest of four mountain lions, with a sublimit of two females. The objective is to allow a harvest opportunity for mountain lions that allows the population to remain resilient and healthy while limiting future growth or moderately reducing numbers.

The Commission also will consider adopting a Nebraska River Otter Management Plan. The goal of the plan would be to maintain resilient, healthy and socially acceptable river otter populations that are in balance with available habitat and other wildlife species. Changes to Commission orders and regulations will be proposed to implement a harvest season that would allow the trapping of river otters. The proposed season would be Nov. 1, 2021 through Feb. 28, 2022, or close earlier once 75 otters have been harvested.

The proposed regulations can be viewed at nebraska.gov/nesos/rules-and-regs/regtrack/index.cgi. The proposed changes to Commission orders can be viewed at outdoornebraska.gov/regulations.

Commissioners also will consider staff recommendations to approve or reject:

  • a proposal to allow the Game and Parks to manage 234 acres of land owned by Pheasants Forever, Inc. which is adjacent to Commission-owned Jack Sinn Wildlife Management Area in Lancaster County. These additional acres would be open to public access and follow the same regulations as the adjacent WMA.
  • changes to sport fishing regulations regarding the application and purchase of paddlefish preference points and where a paddlefish permit is valid.
  • changes that would add DeFair Lake WMA in Grant County to the list of water bodies where it is illegal to possess or use live baitfish while fishing.
  • changes to wildlife regulations that currently prohibit the possession of a firearm while archery and muzzleloader hunting. This change would allow these big game hunters to lawfully carry a handgun with a barrel of no longer than 5 inches.
  • changes to clarify hunting restrictions pertaining to the use of bait for big game and turkey.
  • changes to add an option to hold special depredation seasons for deer, antelope and elk.

Staff will recommend that the Commission ratifies the Operating and Capital Improvement budgets for fiscal years 2021-2022 and 2022-2023.

The Commission also will consider the formation of a Director Search Committee and hear an update on western Nebraska park improvements, as well as a horticulturist’s report on park habitats across the state.

A complete agenda is available at outdoornebraska.gov/commissioners.

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