The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, after urgent requests by state Senator Steve Erdman, issued a depredation permit allowing rancher Butch Schuler to kill up to 50 elk on his property. This decision was made after Schuler provided drone footage of severe crop destruction at a “September public hearing of the Legislature’s Natural Resources Committee.” It aimed to “take an in-depth look into the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, and its’ handling of wildlife management,” according to the Omaha World-Herald.
The hunting community heavily criticized this decision. Elk hunting opportunity in Nebraska is rare. Out of over 5,000 applicants, less than 7% receive elk hunting licenses each year. The hunting community believes that increased allotment of licenses would let them become a larger asset in keeping elk populations under control.
Nebraska Game and Parks Commission received such large amounts of backlash via the “Western Nebraska Big Game Hunting Page” on Facebook, that they chose to submit a response on the group’s Facebook thread, defending their reasoning. One of the Commissions’ claims is that hunting is insufficient in providing protection to the crop damage inflicted by elk.
According to Alicia Hardin, wildlife division administrator, “It’s not a hunt, it’s a shoot. A way to change the behavior of the animals.” But, previous attempts to manage deer populations with the use of depredation permits have not reliably achieved the commission’s goals in protecting farmland.
Sustainability is at the forefront of this conflict. For instance, the commission works to keep a “balance between healthy populations, recreational hunting, and social tolerance for big game management.” However, Senator Erdman claims there are too many elk in the southwest portion of Nebraska in particular. Where the claim that hunting is the preferred method of keeping population numbers in check comes forth, there remains the issue of such low opportunity for elk hunters in Nebraska to obtain a tag.
What are your thoughts on this issue? Is the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission handling wildlife management correctly?