LINCOLN — The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission approved recommendations for 2020 deer, antelope and elk hunting seasons at its meeting Friday.
Commissioners adopted the proposed staff amendments to Commission orders pertaining to season dates, bag limits, permit quantities and areas open for deer, antelope and elk hunting.
A summary of the big game recommendations that were approved:
Deer: Many units have seen bag limit and permit quota changes to accomplish management goals and a few units will see a bonus antlerless white-tailed deer added to their regular and season choice permits.
Elk: Bull permits will increase 25% and antlerless permits will increase 40%. The antlerless season will be extended and run from Aug. 1 to Jan. 31, 2021, with three units being split between early and late antlerless seasons.
Antelope: Most units will see an increase in permit quotas in response to population levels and social tolerances. Similar to the Landowner October Firearm bag limit change in 2019, the Landowner Late Doe/Fawn permits also will include a bonus doe/fawn tag to help landowners harvest more doe/fawn antelope on their land if they desire.
Staff will continue to address depredation issues through regulations, outreach to landowners about available resources, encouraging public hunting access and promotion of antlerless deer opportunities.
In other business, the commissioners approved a staff recommendation for waterfowl hunting boundary changes. The changes will go on to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for approval, and will go into effect in the fall of 2021.
In addition, staff presented an update on mountain lion research. Results from the latest mountain lion survey of the Pine Ridge population provide an estimate of 34 mountain lions in the Pine Ridge during the survey period of May and June of 2019. The previous estimate from 2017 was 59 mountain lions. The estimated density of mountain lions in the Pine Ridge had been higher than most western states, but now is on target with management goals and similar to other states. Additional harvest will likely be needed to maintain the population within management objectives.
Seven mountain lions were harvested in 2020. Four (three males and one female) were taken in the south subunit of the Pine Ridge during Season 1. No mountain lions were harvested during Season 1 in the north subunit, so an auxiliary season was held, where three mountain lions (two males and one female) were killed.
Regulated harvest seasons have allowed the population to remain resilient and healthy, while bringing the density of mountain lions in the Pine Ridge in line with western states that allow mountain lion hunting.
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