The Panhandle’s representative on the Game and Parks Commission says the issuance of a damage control permit for up to 50 elk for a Morrill County rancher is shining a spotlight on big game management in the state.
Doug Zingula of Sidney says he anticipates wildlife damage to landowner and agriculture interests will be a topic of discussion as the Commission meets in Omaha with an informational meeting Thursday, and their regular meeting Friday.
Zingula tells KNEB News what appears to be an all-time high in the number of big game in the state, plus more than a million acres of row crops placed into production over the past 20 years, seems to be creating a perfect storm. “You look at deer and elk, obviously they like corn,” says Zingula, “So you put added acreage into corn, you have fewer hunters and tighter restrictions on access, and all of a sudden you come into an explosive situation that we find ourselves in now.”
Zingula notes there are hundreds of deer permits, generally for does, that go unsold or un-filled every year, even when they’ve been given away in addition to other permits sold by the Commission.
With 98 percent of Nebraska land in private hands, he tells us the agency’s staff is always ready to work with landowners on solutions to reduce herd numbers where and when necessary.