LINCOLN -  Memorial Day is next weekend and tomorrow would traditionally be the Nebraska Game and Parks Free Fishing and Park Entry Day, but the Game and Parks Commission postponed it indefinitely because of coronavirus limits.

     The commission also cancelled all agency-sponsored activities through May 31 to prevent large gatherings of people, which means the usual Memorial Day weekend season-opening events at the various state parks and other sites are also cancelled.

      Those areas are currently open for day-use, fishing and recreation but with recommendations to limit travel as much as possible, practice social distancing at least 6 feet between others, avoid crowded areas. and adhere to the 10-person limit rule.

      South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks is, on the other hand, going ahead with its Open House and Free Fishing Weekend today through Sunday. The promotion grants free park entrance and free fishing statewide for both residents and nonresidents although fishing rules and camping fees still apply.

     While the customary park programming is still on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they will be offering online fun through both Game, Fish, and Parks and specific park social media channels.

Phelps County man sentenced to jail time for deer violations

LINCOLN, Neb. – A 29-year-old Phelps County man was sentenced May 13 to jail time in Phelps County Court after being convicted of multiple deer hunting violations.

Nebraska conservation officers had investigated Arthur Underwood, Jr. for multiple hunting violations during the 2019 hunting seasons. Underwood pled guilty to 12 counts, including five counts each of over-bagging deer and violation of deer regulations, and one count each of attempted tampering with evidence and false reporting.

The sentence included jail time of 300 days for each charge of tampering and false reporting – to be served consecutively, 30 days for regulation violations and 90 days for the over-bagging of deer – to be served concurrently.

Penalties of $22,000 in liquidated damages and a three-year suspension/revocation of hunting, fishing and trapping privileges also were assessed, plus court costs and fees.

Other persons in Underwood’s hunting party also were cited and had paid fines: Easton Kalb (two counts of violating hunting regulations, $100 fine for each count, $500 liquidated damages and court costs); Halley Helleberg (unlawfully taking/possessing game, $500 fine, $2,000 liquidated damages and court costs); Tristin Wood (violation of hunting regulations, $100 and court costs); and Johnathon Wood (hunting deer without a permit, $150 and court costs).

Public urged to leave wildlife babies alone

LINCOLN, Neb. – It is natural for some people who see a young wild animal apparently abandoned by its mother to want to rescue it. The correct course of action is to leave it alone.

Here are some rules of thumb from the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission regarding wildlife babies:

-- A lone fawn, or other young bird or mammal, may appear to be abandoned or injured, but the mother frequently is off feeding or drinking. Do not move it. The longer the fawn is separated from its mother, the slimmer the chance that it will be reunited with her. In some cases, other deer will adopt an orphaned fawn.

-- It is normal for a doe to leave its fawn to keep it from being detected by predators. Predators can see the doe as it feeds, so she leaves the fawn hidden and leaves the area to draw attention away from the fawn's location.

-- Do not try to raise wildlife babies as pets. As animals mature, they become more independent and follow natural instincts to leave and establish their own territories. Rescued animals are poorly prepared for life in the wild.

-- Most wildlife babies are protected by state or federal law and it is illegal to possess them.