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Keep up with the latest research and projects from the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission staff.

Fens Forever

Formed over thousands of years, fens are an important part of our natural history and are critical in cleaning our air and water. By Mariah Lundgren There is a type of wetland found in the Nebraska Sandhills that holds mystery and wonder — fens. Unique and rare plant species make their home in this boggy and bouncy land. Formed over thousands of years, fens are an important part of our natural history and are critical in cleaning our air and …

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Booming Bobcats

Something of a mystery, Nebraska’s bobcat population remains healthy. By Justin Haag As I moved among patches of shoulder-high weeds at an abandoned farmstead in search of pheasants, I glanced over to see my younger brother, fresh out of hunter-safety training, become excited as he entered a clearing. “Whoa, what was that? It looked like a lion,” he shouted as an unfamiliar creature scurried into cover. Despite any skepticism by those of us in the hunting party that day, we …

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At-Risk Species Spotlight – Whooping Crane

The recovery of whooping crane populations is an on-going, collaborative effort across multiple states, countries and conservation groups. By Olivia DaRugna, Wildlife Diversity Biologist Whooping Cranes are one of the rarest birds in the world. In the 1940s, whooping cranes declined to fewer than two dozen individuals due to unregulated shooting and loss of nesting habitat. This drastic decline led to whooping cranes being one of the first species to gain protection under the Endangered Species Act in 1973. Whopping …

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September At-Risk Species – Monarch Butterflies

A brief history of the monarch butterfly as a potential endangered species By Cody Dreier, Pollinator Ecologist Monarch butterflies are the “poster child” of pollinators, and rightfully so. They remind us of the importance of conserving pollinator habitats and creating new ones – even little plots in our own yards. Unfortunately, monarch populations have declined, and conserving them has been no easy task. Reasons for Decline The monarch’s decline is death by a thousand cuts. There is no one universal …

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Nebraska Birding Bowl Results

By Olivia DaRugna, Watchable Wildlife Biologist The first Nebraska Birding Bowl took place May 1-31 during Nebraska Bird Month. The successful event saw 144 teams participating in one of four categories: Fledgling Flock, Backyard Birders, Dabbling Birders or Competitive Birders. Together, 270 participants (192 adults and 78 youth) contributed over 2,900 eBird checklists, and more than 287 species were observed during Nebraska Bird Month. Teams birded all over the state during May, visiting almost every location on the Nebraska Birding …

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A Return to the Plains – Wolves in Nebraska

By Sam Wilson, Furbearer and Carnivore Program Manager, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission The howls of wild wolf packs have been gone from Nebraska for more than 100 years, but recently a few dispersers walked hundreds of miles into the state to return to plains where the species was once common. Few wild animals hold a larger place in cultures around the world than wolves. They are a symbol of the wild that has inspired legends, lore, fear, reverence, myths, …

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The Life of a Plover

1,500 Miles and Going By Elsa Forsberg I zoom in again on my computer screen, just to make sure the image is of a small shorebird called a piping plover. Two plastic bands decorate the bird’s legs like bracelets, one gray and one blue. The combination of different colored bands serves as a coded name tag waiting to be deciphered. Squinting at the blue band, I read the white engraved text. 56A. I sit back and gape at my computer …

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Trapping Turkeys

Photos and story by Justin Haag A new research effort is aiming to uncover mysteries about Nebraska’s wild turkeys. University of Nebraska-Lincoln researchers have teamed up with Nebraska Game and Parks to trap turkeys, measure them, collect samples and outfit them with GPS transmitters and leg bands. Over time, researchers will learn about turkey movements, habitat selection, nesting success and genetic diversity. These variables all play a role in wild turkey population numbers, which have shown a decline in many …

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Timberdoodles on the Plains

How a forest-dwelling shorebird makes a living in Nebraska’s prairies By Joel Jorgensen and Stephen J. Brenner Photos by Eric Fowler As winter’s grip begins to loosen in early March, one of the first tangible signs of spring comes in the form of one unusual bird’s evening courtship display. Along with first returning flocks of geese, sandhill cranes and a noticeable northward push of bald eagles, the American woodcock is one of our earliest arriving migratory birds, often laying claim …

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Of Limpkins and Snails

By Joel Jorgensen, Nongame Bird Program Manager A few years ago, if someone raised the possibility of a limpkin reaching Nebraska, an appropriate response would have been “when pigs fly.” That is because, not long ago, limpkins were restricted to Central and South America, the Caribbean and Florida. In North America, any limpkin wandering north of the sunshine state would have been big news. Over the past two decades, limpkins began to increase in Florida and push a little farther …

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