Commission Sets 2005 Spring Turkey Season

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The Nebraska Game and Parks Commissioners set the 2005 spring turkey hunting season and addressed a variety of other issues at a meeting in Lincoln October 14.

The 2005 spring turkey archery season will be March 25 - May 22. The shotgun season in the West Unit will be April 16 - May 22; the early shotgun season in the East Missouri Unit will be April 16 -24; and the late shotgun season in the East Missouri Unit will be April 25 - May 22.

There will be an unlimited number of permits available, the only restrictions being that no one may obtain more than two spring turkey permits in a given year, and no one may obtain more than one spring shotgun permit in the East Missouri Unit, with the exception that a limited landowner permit will not count against the limit. Each permit will allow the taking of one male or bearded female turkey.

The commissioners also authorized the creation of a youth spring turkey hunting season and a youth spring turkey hunting permit. The youth spring turkey season will allow resident and nonresident young hunters ages 12-15 years old to hunt turkey with archery equipment March 25 through May 22 and with a shotgun April 9 through May 22, statewide. The permit will be valid for both seasons and each youth may have a maximum of two permits. Hunter education is required and youth under 16 years must be accompanied by a person 21 years or older. The price of the resident youth turkey permit will be $21; the nonresident permit will be $66.

The board of commissioners also:

– approved a recommendation to hold a public hearing at the January 7 meeting to amend provisions relating to application eligibility and permit limitations for turkeys;

– approved a recommendation to hold a public hearing at the January 7 meeting to set deer, antelope and elk permit application periods and procedures, and opening dates for the 2005 seasons;

– approved a recommendation to hold a public hearing at the January 7 meeting to amend regulations pertaining to rail, snipe, woodcock, mourning dove, grouse, pheasant, quail, partridge, beaver, muskrat, raccoon, opossum, bobcat, red fox, gray fox, badger, long-tailed weasel, striped skunk, mink, cottontail rabbit and squirrel; and set season opening dates for grouse, pheasant, quail, partridge, squirrel, rabbits and fall turkey;

– approved a recommendation to hold a public hearing at the January 7 meeting to amend regulations pertaining to keeping wildlife in captivity, game breeding and controlled shooting areas, and consider amendments relevant to dog training, dog trials and controlled shooting areas;

– approved a staff recommendation to hold a public hearing at the January 7 meeting to amend regulations for sites managed under public access agreements for Vencil’s Island in Sarpy County and Mitchell Valley in Scotts Bluff County;

– adopted a resolution to send to Nebraska’s congressional delegation in support of the Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program of 2003, also known as the Open Fields Legislation, which provides incentives to landowners to open their property to public access for hunting, fishing, wildlife watching, hiking and other outdoor pursuits;

– voted to enter into a managed public access agreement with Platte River Basin Environments, Inc. on Mitchell Valley lands located three miles south and 1.5 miles east of Mitchell in Scotts Bluff County. The area is approximately 325 acres and includes riverine, wetland and upland habitats. The Commission will manage the area as it would a wildlife management area and will primarily focus on upland game birds, waterfowl and big game. The area will be open to public access and will provide a variety of outdoor recreational opportunities;

– approved a grant of easement and memorandum of understanding with the U.S. Corps of Engineers pertaining to Missouri River habitat restoration improvements on the Schramm Tract addition to Ponca State Park;

– approved acquisition of the 160-acre Kruml tract of wildlife land near Hay Springs in Sheridan County. The area will be an addition to the Metcalf Wildlife Management Area and will be managed for wildlife diversity and elk, deer and turkey hunting;

– approved acquisition of the 55-acre Lampe tract of wildlife land located near Utica in York County. The area will be managed for wildlife diversity and hunting and will be known as the Marsh Duck Wildlife Management Area;

– approved entering into a third-party cooperative agreement with the Lower Platte South Natural Resources District (NRD) to improve existing boat launch facilities at Timber Point, Meadowlark and Cottontail Lakes, which are owned and controlled by the NRD;

– approved increases in cabin rental fees at Lewis and Clark SRA from $90 to $100 per night for two bedroom cabins; at Niobrara State Park from $80 to $90 per night for two bedroom cabins; from $90 to $100 per night for three bedroom cabins; and from $75 to $85 per night for the Green House; established a picnic shelter reservation fee of $30 for shelters without electricity, and $40 for shelters with electricity at Ponca State Park; and miscellaneous small increases in some activity and service fees at some park areas;

– approved a recommendation that regulations that apply to the salvaging of deer and antelope accidentally killed by a motor vehicle also apply to elk. The change allows a Nebraska resident who accidentally kills an elk with a motor vehicle to field dress and take possession of the animal at the time of the accident and remove it to his residence. Notification must be given to the Game and Parks Commission within 24 hours of the time the carcass is picked up and it must be tagged by a conservation officer or other personnel designated by the conservation officer within 48 hours of the time of notification;

– approved a recommendation that makes it illegal to hunt wildlife other than deer with any weapon other than a shotgun, .22 caliber or smaller rimfire rifle or handgun during the nine-day November firearm deer season. The only exceptions are the holder of a valid unfilled firearm deer permit while hunting within the unit for which the permit was issued, or to a farmer or rancher who owns, leases or resides on the land he is hunting and immediate members of his family while hunting on that farm or ranch land;

– approved a recommendation that the Nebraska Boating Basics boating safety course consist of a minimum of six formal classroom hours taught by instructors approved by the Commission and to satisfactorily complete the course the student answer at least 75 percent of a proctored exam approved by the Commission. The successful completion of boating safety courses certified and recognized by other states will be accepted in lieu of Nebraska Boating Basics;

– made it illegal to buy, sell, trade, barter or possess any live species of the family Channidae, or snakeheads, a fish native to Asia and Africa, except that individuals who have scientific collectors permits issued by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission may possess live specimens through January 1, 2006;

– added Verdon Lake to the list of waters with a 21-inch minimum size limit on black bass;

– added Bennington Lake, Holmes Lake and the Indian Creek WMA pond to the list of waters where no harvest of black bass is allowed;

– added Bennington Lake, Holmes Lake, Skyview Lake, and the Indian Creek WMA pond to the list of waters with a daily bag limit of three catfish and also added them to the list of waters with a daily bag limit of 10 panfish;

— removed Goose and Swan lakes from the list of waters with a 30-inch minimum size limit on northern pike and established a slot length that protects pike 28-34 inches, allowing the harvest of fish shorter than 28 inches or longer than 34 inches;

– added Stagecoach, Olive Creek, Windmill SRA #4, Czechland, Morman Island 1, 2 and 3, Wildwood, Walnut Creek, Wagon Train and Yankee Hill lakes to the list of water where there is an 8-inch minimum size limit on black crappie, white crappie, bluegill, yellow perch, rock bass, green sunfish, pumpkinseed sunfish, orange-spotted sunfish and redear sunfish and their hybrids. Pibel Lake was removed from the list;

– changed the downstream boundary of the area closed to bowfishing for game and nongame fish below Gavins Point Dam from the Nebraska tailwater boat ramp to a line that extends from the east end of the south cement wall of the discharge canal northwest to the east end of the north wall of the stilling basin, making the it the same as the area closed to bowfishing for paddlefish;

– made it mandatory that arrows be attached to a line from the bow at the time the arrow is released, allowing subsequent separation and retrieval using a float;

– increased the Missouri River archery paddlefish season from 16 to 30 days;

– made it legal to bait (chum) at Two Rivers SRA lakes;

-- made it unlawful when fishing at Holmes or Skyview lakes to possess or use live baitfish, or possess live fish other than those taken there;

– established a catch and release restriction on largemouth bass, a 10-fish daily bag limit on bluegill and a three-fish daily bag limit on channel catfish at Bethphage Pond in Axtell;

– removed the one-fish daily bag limit and 30-inch minimum length limit on northern pike in Ogallala’s Humphrey Pond and the North Platte I-80 Lake;

– established a daily bag limit of one largemouth bass over 21 inches, a daily bag limit of 10 panfish, a daily bag limit of three channel catfish and made it unlawful to possess live baitfish at Ta-Ha-Zouka Park at Norfolk;

– removed the 8-inch minimum size limit on bluegill at Yanney Park Lake in Kearney;

– limited the eligibility of special fishing permits for residents who are severely physically or developmentally disabled and who require assistance in angling to those unable to operate a rod and reel, attach terminal tackle, bait a hook, remove fish from a hook, and require that the disabled person by assisted by one person.