The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission adopted staff recommendations Friday for 2017 big game hunting seasons.Among the big game changes:
• Twenty-six either-sex and 54 doe/fawn antelope permits were added in units in the southern Panhandle.
• Three cow elk permits were added in the Ash Creek Unit.
• Antlerless-only whitetail permits were reduced in several eastern units.
• Permits in southwest units were changed to increase mule deer doe harvest.
• Changes to permits in the Platte Mule Deer Conservation Area now allocate no more than 15 percent of permits to nonresidents.
• The River Antlerless Unit was expanded on the Elkhorn River and the South Fork of the Elkhorn River.
The 2017 big game season dates are:
• Deer: archery, Sept. 1-Dec. 31; firearm, Nov. 11-19; muzzleloader, Dec. 1-31; antlerless late season, Jan. 1-15, 2018
• Antelope: archery, Aug. 20-Dec. 31; muzzleloader, Sept. 16-Oct. 1; firearm, Oct. 14-29; doe/fawn late season, Nov. 1, 2017-Jan. 31, 2018
• Elk: archery bull, Sept. 15-Oct. 29; firearm bull, Sept. 30-Oct. 29; private land cow, Aug. 15-Oct. 29 and Dec. 1-31; public land cow, Sept. 30-Oct. 29 and Dec. 1-31.
In addition to big game orders, the commissioners approved recommendations to:
• increase the cash change funds at some state park areas to support expanded activities, coinage requirements associated with showers, new gatehouses, and price change in park entry permits.
• grant a permanent easement from the city of Louisville to place a sewer line at Platte River State Park (SP);
• set fees for a new family aquatic center at Ponca SP as follows: annual family pass, $180; annual adult, $95; annual child, $75; daily adult, $7; daily child, $5; age 2 and under, free.
• set fees for a new rental meeting room at Wildcat Hills SRA as follows: Monday – Thursday, $150 for full day, $75 for four hours; Friday – Sunday and holidays, $200 for full day, $100 for four hours; weddings, $300; propane grill, $25. Rental hours are 8 a.m.–10 p.m., with three four-hour rental blocks per day.
• acquire 80 acres of land in Sheridan County to be designated an addition to Metcalf Wildlife Management Area.
The commissioners also heard staff updates on various research projects.
Parks Administrator Jim Swenson presented an update on the Venture Parks project.
Sam Wilson, Game and Parks’ furbearer and carnivore program manager, gave the commissioners an update on the agency’s mountain lion research project.
Wildlife Assistant Administrator Karie Decker gave an update on big game research, including an elk population assessment in the Loess Canyons, mule deer survival and habitat use, antelope impact on winter wheat, chronic wasting disease, and bighorn sheep survival and recruitment.
The next commission meeting will be June 22 in Scottsbluff.