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Be Mindful of Safety as Hunting Season Opens


With several hunting seasons opening in September, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission reminds hunters to be safe in the field.

Nebraska’s archery season for deer, and small game seasons for rabbits, doves, snipe, rail and grouse open Sept. 1. Teal season opens Sept. 2 and fall turkey season begins Sept. 15.

Follows these suggestions to help make a hunting trip safer:

— Always tell someone where you are going to hunt and when you expect to be back.

— Never draw and point a bow or crossbow and never point a firearm at anything you do not intend to shoot.

— Treat every firearm as if it is loaded.

— Always be sure of your target and what is beyond it; never shoot at sounds our shadows.

— Never touch the trigger of a firearm or release an arrow from a bow or crossbow until you are sure of your target and ready to shoot; once released, you cannot take back the shot.

— Use a fall arrest system if hunting from a tree stand.

— Wearing hunter orange is strongly encouraged; in some cases, it is required.

For more information about hunting safety or the Nebraska Hunter Education Program, visit HuntSafeNebraska.org.

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Turkey Calling Class April 11


Learn the art of turkey calling from Nebraska Game and Parks Commission experts during the Turkey Calling 101 class at Lincoln’s Nebraska Game and Parks Outdoor Education Center.

Set for April 11 at 6 p.m., the workshop will teach participants how to communicate with the wild turkey, increasing their chances of calling in this exciting game animal. Topics will include various calls made by the wild turkey; communicating using basic sounds; using the slate, box, mouth and wing bone calls; determining when to call; and maintenance and preparation of your turkey call. The class is designed for novice and advanced hunters. Participants must bring their own calls.

The cost is $5 per participant. Pre-registration is required. Register online at www.register-ed.com/events/view/101449, or call 402-471-6141. The Outdoor Education Center is located at 44th and Superior streets.

Assist in the Statewide Monarch Conservation


Monarch numbers have declined over the past 20 years. The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission is working to conserve this species and needs your help!

  •  There is an urgent need to track monarchs across their range over time to better understand and adjust conservation measures. In 2015, a project was launched to monitor monarchs and the regal fritillary. To learn how to help us track these butterfly species, visit our website.
  • Having access to healthy populations of milkweed is critical for monarchs. You can help us plant milkweed along the Cowboy Trail on various dates in October. Learn more online.
  • Landowners and gardeners, you can help us track conservation efforts across the state that benefit monarchs. If you are managing your site for pollinators, have recently restored a grassland that has diverse flowering plants, or have recently added milkweed or planted a garden to help monarchs and pollinators, please register your site now at our milkweed tracker page.

Thank you for your help!

Nebraska One of Best Places to Hunt Pheasants


This week, Pheasants Forever named Nebraska as one of the top eight pheasant hunting destinations in the United States.

“The Cornhusker State is a bird hunting cornucopia,” Ron Spomer writes. “You’re liable to bump into not just ringnecks, but bobwhites, sharp-tailed grouse and prairie chickens. And you can look for them on 800,000 public access acres on 300 state and federal land areas. That’s only 2 percent of the state’s total land, so if you can talk yourself onto private lands, you’ll have the potential to walk yourself to death in a flurry of upland hunting.” 

Fall pheasant hunters can look forward to an excellent season. Surveys show that bird numbers continue to be robust, and that conditions for upland birds are better than in recent years. In addition, Nebraska Game and Parks recently unveiled the Berggren Plan for Pheasants, an ambitious and innovative five-year plan to improve pheasant populations across the state.

For tips on where to hunt pheasants and how to plan your trip, visit us online. You can also buy a permit on our website.

Nebraska Game and Parks Seeks Help in Tracking Monarch Habitat


The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission needs the public’s help in documenting new and existing habitat for monarch butterflies.

The public is encouraged to enter plantings of milkweed into the Monarch Tracker, which is available on the Game and Parks website. Doing so will help Game and Parks identify areas where milkweed and other pollinator-friendly flora can be planted, restored or enhanced in the next several years.

Monarch populations are in serious decline, mostly because of loss of milkweed and habitat. The monarch’s caterpillar stage feeds only on milkweed plants, while as adults they feed on many flowering plants.

“Current research suggests that in order to prevent further declines of the monarch, more than a billion milkweed plants and millions of acres containing diverse pollinator-friendly plants must be added to the landscape across the Midwest,” said Kristal Stoner, Game and Parks’ wildlife diversity program manager.

The public is urged to consider planting areas of pasture, farm or backyard where milkweed and other flowers can thrive for monarchs and other pollinators. Anyone who has recently created pollinator-friendly habitat can enter the information into the Milkweed Tracker.

To learn more about the Milkweed Tracker, to enter planted habitat, or to find information on what to plant, visit: OutdoorNebraska.gov/MilkweedTracker.

Fees to Increase in 2017 on Some Permits, Stamps


At a Commission meeting on Aug. 18 in Broken Bow, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission approved fee increases to some permits and stamps.

The increase in hunt permit fees, which will take effect once they are approved by the governor, will be used for fish and wildlife management and conservation activities across the agency, such as the agency’s pheasant plan, and will help ensure quality hunting and outdoor recreation in the future. This is the first increase in fees for any permit since 2010. To read more details of the Commission meeting, visit our website.

Activities This Weekend at Ponca State Park


LINCOLN – A full weekend of fun and educational activities for all ages is scheduled July 9-10 at Ponca State Park.

On July 9, park visitors may participate in an introduction to shooting archery, shotguns and .22 rifles, learn about wildlife species found along the Missouri River, discover the difference between native and invasive species, and learn how to identify wildlife by tracks and scat. In addition, backwater kayaking and hayrack park tours are scheduled throughout the day.

July 10’s schedule includes a workshop on the ancient spear-throwing tool known as the atlatl, a naturalist program on insects, and an outdoor survival class.

A park permit is required of each vehicle entering the park. Fees apply to some activities.

For more information, call the park at 402-755-2284, and visit Calendar.OutdoorNebraska.gov to view the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission’s calendar of events.

Nebraska State High School Fishing Tournament


LINCOLN – The Sixth Annual Nebraska State High School Fishing Tournament is scheduled for July 23 at Elwood Reservoir Wildlife Management Area (WMA).

The tournament, a cooperative program between the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission and The Bass Federation – Student Angler Foundation, is open to two-person teams of anglers in grades 9 through 12. Each team will have a coach who provides a boat for the competition.

Anglers will check in at 5:30 a.m., and a rules meeting will follow at 6. The tournament launches at 7 a.m. and will continue until 1 p.m., with the weigh-in to follow.

Elwood Reservoir WMA is located 3 miles north of Elwood in Gosper County. The boat ramp is located on the east side of the reservoir.

Contact Larry Pape at larry.pape@nebraska.gov with questions. For tournament rules or to register, visit highschoolfishing.org/2016-state-championships.

Commision Stresses Park Visitors Restrict Firewood Movement Following EAB Confirmation


LINCOLN – Now that the presence of the invasive emerald ash borer (EAB) has been confirmed in Nebraska, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission emphasizes that campers should continue to restrict the movement of firewood to prevent the spread of EAB throughout the state.

The Nebraska Department of Agriculture on June 8 confirmed the presence of the EAB in Omaha’s Pulaski Park. EAB is a tree-killing beetle native to Asia. It can move from state to state in firewood.

As in recent years, a Voluntary Firewood Exchange Program is in place at several state park areas to prevent the movement of the emerald ash borer within the state. Campers at Niobrara, Ponca, Eugene T. Mahoney and Indian Cave state parks, and Red Willow Reservoir, Medicine Creek Reservoir, Branched Oak, Lewis and Clark, Pawnee and Two Rivers state recreation areas who bring firewood from outside of the state should exchange their wood at the park office or campground host for an equal volume of locally acquired firewood.

In addition, it is recommended that Nebraska residents also acquire firewood at or near any park destination — whether that be a state park, city park, national park or private campground — rather than bringing it from other locations. Locally acquired firewood will be sold at park offices or concessions inside Chadron, Fort Robinson, Indian Cave, Eugene T. Mahoney, Niobrara, Platte River, Ponca and Smith Falls state parks and Branched Oak, Fremont, Lake Maloney, Lake Minatare, Lewis and Clark, Louisville, and Two Rivers state recreation areas.

Wood lying on the ground at Nebraska Game and Parks properties may be collected and burned as firewood on site.

Park visitors are commended for their cooperation with the wood exchange program and for their diligence in preventing the spread of EAB. Visitors are also reminded to enjoy campfires safely and in compliance with regulations to prevent wildfires.

More information can be found at: emeraldashborer.info and dontmovefirewood.org.

Aquatic Invasive Species Boat Inspectors Working Across the State


Boaters enjoying some of Nebraska’s major public waters may be contacted by boat inspectors this summer. Inspections will reduce the risk of aquatic invasive species (AIS) being spread across the state.

Inspections will include a brief examination of the watercraft and a survey of boat operators about their recent boating activities. Participants also will be provided information on ways to prevent the spread of AIS. Inspection and survey results will be used to determine if a risk of spreading an invasive species exists.

Regulations state that boaters are not allowed to launch or leave a boat ramp facility with any water unless it is from a domestic water source. In addition, boaters are required to drain all lake or river water from the watercraft and remove any vegetation or mud from the boat and trailer before leaving a boat ramp.

It is recommended that boaters follow the following Clean, Drain and Dry protocol after boating and before launching your boat in a different water body to prevent the spread of AIS:

— Rinse the boat and all equipment with hot tap water, ideally more than 140 degrees Fahrenheit, to kill zebra and quagga mussels. Vinegar also can be used to kill young zebra and quagga mussels, especially in live wells.

— Spray the boat, live well, engine and trailer with a high-pressure sprayer.

— Pull the plugs from bilge, live wells and engine to drain upon leaving a water body. Trim the motor up and down to facilitate the draining of water.

— If washing the boat away from the water body you are leaving, do not allow runoff to enter a drainage.

— Dry the boat and all equipment for at least five days. Use a towel to speed up the drying process, especially in the live well.

The education and compliance by recreational water users is necessary to eliminate the movement of AIS in Nebraska. For more information on all invasive species, visit neinvasives.gov.

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