Outdoor notes: Mountain lion season applications; Rainwater Basin wetland conditions
Mountain lion lottery application period is Sept. 4-27
LINCOLN, Neb. – The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission will accept lottery applications for mountain lion permits Sept. 4-27 for the 2020 hunting season.
Hunting will be allowed only in the Pine Ridge Unit of northwestern Nebraska, which has an established population that can sustain a harvest. Hunters may apply for a permit in either of two subunits: the South Subunit (south of U.S. Hwy. 20) or the North Subunit (north of U.S. Hwy. 20). A person may not submit more than one application per calendar year for a mountain lion permit.
A drawing will allocate 320 permits to each subunit, and only Nebraska residents can receive permits.
There are a few regulation changes for the 2020 season. Public lands are open to hunt in both subunits, shooting hours are sunrise to sunset, and proof of gender must be naturally attached to the carcass at check-in.
Applications will be accepted beginning at 1 p.m. Central Time on Wednesday, Sept. 4. Mail applications must be received at the Game and Parks’ Lincoln headquarters by 5 p.m. CT on Sept. 27, online applications must be received by 11:59 p.m. Visit OutdoorNebraska.org to apply online or download an application at outdoornebraska.gov/mountainlionhunting. A $15 nonrefundable application fee must be submitted with each application.
Up to eight mountain lions may be harvested in 2020, with up to four of those being females. In each of the two subunits, once four mountain lions, or two females, have been harvested in that subunit, the season in that subunit will close.
Dogs may not be used during Season 1, which will run Jan. 2 through Feb. 29, 2020. If the limits and/or sub-limits have not been reached in a subunit by Feb. 29, an auxiliary season, allowing the use of dogs will occur. Unsuccessful hunters in a subunit that does not reach the Season 1 limit may apply to convert their permit to an auxiliary season permit in March.
A harvest will allow the mountain lion population to remain resilient and healthy, while halting growth or moderately reducing the population size. This will reduce the population density in the Pine Ridge to one similar to that of other states that allow mountain lion hunting.
To read more mountain lion hunting regulations, go to outdoornebraska.gov/mountainlionhunting.
Rainwater Basin wetlands mostly full
LINCOLN, Neb. – Rainwater Basin wetlands observed during an aerial survey Aug. 29 are mostly full of water due to above-normal rainfall, so little pumping is planned, according to the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. Wetland conditions also are good throughout most of the rest of the state, resulting in excellent habitat for waterfowl and creating good opportunities for waterfowl hunters.
Because of the rainfall, some parking lots and roads are in poor condition and some of the areas are heavily vegetated, which can make hunting access difficult, so it is recommended to check the areas you plan to hunt before the season opener.
Waterfowl hunting in Nebraska begins with early teal season Sept. 7-15 in the High Plains Zone and Sept. 7-22 in the Low Plains Zone. That also kicks off the new Nebraska Duck Slam challenge, which encourages waterfowlers to harvest four species in the state. More information is available at OutdoorNebraska.org/DuckSlam.
In addition to providing places to hunt waterfowl, wetlands are pumped when needed to provide habitat for migrating waterfowl and other water birds, and to provide areas for people to observe wildlife.
To view the Aug. 29 report on wetland conditions and pumping plans, go to OutdoorNebraska.gov/waterfowlchecklist/, where updates will be posted regularly throughout the duck seasons. Visit OutdoorNebraska.org for more information on waterfowl hunting and to purchase permits and stamps and register for the Harvest Information Program.
Hunters Helping the Hungry greatly needs cash donations
LINCOLN, Neb. – The Hunters Helping the Hungry (HHH) program has received two grants that will fund processing of 36 donated deer in 2019, but cash donations to support the program are greatly needed.
Thanks to a $2,500 grant from the Cabela’s Outdoor Fund and a $750 grant from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation – plus cash donations received through July 2019 – 375 deer can be processed in 2019. While this number is higher than it would be without the grant funds, it is still a 34% drop from last year.
HHH, which was created by the Nebraska Legislature in 2012, is funded entirely by tax-deductible cash donations from hunters, businesses and individuals. HHH contracts with processors, who prepare and package ground venison from hunter-donated deer. Charitable organizations then pick up and distribute venison to Nebraskans.
The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission is seeking cash donations to HHH so it can continue to feed Nebraskans in need. Each dollar donated provides two meals of ground venison. More than 650,000 meals have been distributed since the program began.
The program is very successful when cash donations keep pace with deer donations. From 2014 to 2017 donated deer increased by over 20% each year. At the same time, annual cash donations decreased from $76,000 to $47,000. In most years, 90,000 deer permits are sold in Nebraska. If one dollar were donated to HHH with each permit purchased, the program’s funding could be restored to 2017 levels, when a record 734 deer were donated.
View the 2018 program report, and learn more about the program and how to support it at OutdoorNebraska.org/HHH or contact program coordinator Teresa Lombard at 402 471-5430 [email protected].
Open house for new stream section is Tuesday
MITCHELL, Neb. -- The Dry Spotted Tail Creek partner group is inviting the public to view the newly completed stream section at the Platte River Basin Environments property west of Mitchell. The area will be open from 5:30-7:30 p.m. MDT on Tuesday, Sept. 10.
Anyone interested in supporting conservation efforts is encouraged to attend and visit about the project with representatives from PRBE, Trout Unlimited, Ducks Unlimited, Pheasants Forever and the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. The open house is celebrating the completion of the first phase of construction. The second and final phase is scheduled for 2020.
Organizers said the family-friendly event is open to all ages, and attendees should bring footwear appropriate for walking along the stream to see its features. The stream’s design is intended to improve habitat for rainbow trout and a variety of wetland wildlife species.
The site is one-half mile west of Mitchell on County Road E, or 1 mile west of Mitchell on U.S. Highway 26 and then south on Road 13. Temporary signs will direct visitors to the parking area.
The partner group and a variety of other sources are funding the project. They include the Nebraska Environmental Trust, North American Wetlands Conservation Act, Trout Unlimited Embrace-a-Stream and Wildlife & Sport Fish Restoration