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Justin Haag

Justin Haag has served the Commission as a public information officer in the Panhandle since 2013. His duties include serving as regional editor for NEBRASKAland Magazine. Haag was raised in southwestern Nebraska, where he developed a love for fishing, hunting and other outdoor pursuits. After earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Chadron State College in 1996, he worked four years as an editor and reporter at newspapers in Chadron and McCook. Prior to joining the Commission in 2013, he worked 12 years as a communicator at Chadron State, serving as the institution’s media and public relations coordinator the last five. He and his wife, Cricket, live in Chadron, and have two children.

Road damage prompts temporary closure of Hudson Lake

LINCOLN, Neb. – Hudson Lake in Cherry County is temporarily closed because of deteriorating road conditions. Warmer temperatures in recent days have prompted melting snow with runoff causing damage to the access road. Hudson Lake, which is about 24 miles southwest of Valentine, is available for public recreation through the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission’s Open Fields and Waters Program. Conditions will be assessed on a weekly basis to determine the lake’s reopening.

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Game and Parks Commission reports results of chronic wasting disease testing

LINCOLN, Neb. – The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission has tallied the results of its sampling efforts for chronic wasting disease in deer during the November 2019 firearm season, and the results show the presence of chronic wasting disease in Howard County of central Nebraska for the first time. Game and Parks conducted chronic wasting disease sampling at deer check stations in northwestern and northeastern Nebraska during the firearm deer season by removing lymph nodes for testing. Deer that tested …

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Nebraska bighorn sheep hunters successful

MORRILL, Neb. – Nebraska’s bighorn sheep hunting season wrapped up Wednesday afternoon as the second of the state’s two permit holders found success at Montz Point Wildlife Management Area in Scotts Bluff County. Trevor Premer of McCook, who won his permit by a lottery open to Nebraska residents, harvested a 7 1/2-year-old ram to conclude a hunt that began Monday in the Pine Ridge but concluded in the Wildcat Hills. The other hunter, Frank Tritz of LeMars, Iowa, won his …

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Ol’ Rough-legs

The rough-legged hawk may not stand out among raptors in looks, but it lives an interesting life. Perhaps you have seen this species along the road lately, but given its somewhat unassuming appearance, have not given it much thought. The rough-legged hawk, with its mottled brown plumage, blends in well with our landscape during the winter months. The rough-legged hawk is one of those species that logs many miles a couple of times annually. Those fence posts and utility poles …

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Turtles: Slowing Down for Winter

Some of Nebraska’s most common wildlife have the most magnificent survival abilities. A blast of below-zero temperatures got me thinking about a species I often catch sight of while casting a fishing rod over the soft water, but is nowhere to be seen around my holes in the ice. Painted turtles (Chrysemys picta) basking on a partially submerged log is a familiar scene at ponds throughout Nebraska, and much of the United States for that matter, during summer months. It …

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Lake Minatare opening to birdwatchers Dec. 7

MINATARE, Neb. — The public will have a special opportunity for viewing birds during an event at Lake Minatare State Recreation Area on Saturday, Dec. 7. The day marks the only opportunity for the public to access the 2,158-acre reservoir on the North Platte National Wildlife Refuge for its annual closure between Oct. 15 and Jan. 14. Birdwatchers who want to participate may arrive at Scout’s Rest Cabin at the lake’s northwest corner any time from 10 a.m. to noon …

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Wildcat Hills event brings nature to holiday decor

GERING, Neb. — A free workshop at Wildcat Hills Nature Center will help participants use items found in nature to make the holidays more festive. “Nature’s Gifts: Decorations from the Great Outdoors” will be Saturday, Dec. 14, at 10 a.m. MST. Amanda Filipi, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission outdoor education specialist, will provide instruction for creating festive ornaments and crafts from items found in nature. On the list of projects are bird feeders, including those constructed in garland fashion. Some …

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Holiday celebration set at Bowring Ranch

MERRIMAN, Neb. – Tickets are on sale for Christmas at the Bowring, the annual holiday celebration at Bowring Ranch State Historical Park. The event will be Saturday, Dec. 14, at 6 p.m. MST. The celebration will include a rib-eye steak dinner with trimmings, live music by the Twin River Band and door prizes. Tickets, which are $25 each, may be purchased now through Dec. 6 and are sold only in advance. To reserve tickets, call the park’s visitors center at …

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1878 is theme for 25th Fort Robinson Christmas dinner

CRAWFORD, Neb. – Tickets will soon go on sale for the 25th Christmas dinner at Fort Robinson State Park. The event Dec. 7 will take people back to 1878, an important year in the fort’s history. The 200 ticket-holders of the event at the park’s Buffalo Soldiers Barracks will be treated to the same menu as the one of that year, when it was a military post for the U.S. Cavalry. The dinner will include turkey, stuffing, potatoes and gravy, …

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Lessons from Cat Country

Thanks to research in the Pine Ridge, we are gaining knowledge about one of Nebraska’s most criticized, treasured and, of course, misunderstood repatriates – the cougar. Referred to as mountain lion, cougar and several other names, Puma concolor has become one of the most discussed wildlife species in the state. For all of that talking, though, it seems there is always a need to dispel a few myths and provide accurate information to the public regarding the species. Historical accounts …

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