All over Nebraska, the deer population has been increasing significantly for the past several years. In many areas, the damage done to crops being eaten by deer and the damage to vehicles after hitting a deer is very costly. That is why I am hopeful that Legislative Bill 836, introduced by Sen. Lautenbaugh, which makes changes to our game law to help decrease our deer population, will continue to advance through the Legislature.
The bill advanced last week from the first round of debate to Select File with a 34-0 vote. The committee amendment, which replaced the introduced copy and became the bill, made several changes.
First, is allows the Game and Parks Commission to extend an existing deer hunting season for deer depredation. Permits issued under this provision would specify which species of deer, what the bag limit would be, and the dates for the beginning and end of a depredation or extended season. The bill would also allow any weapon legally used during a normal season to be used during a depredation season.
LB 836 would get rid of three current requirements under this same section of law. It eliminates the requirement that the permits be issued beginning no less than three days from the season announcement, that only one deer per permit be allowed, and that landowners be reimbursed for half the cost of the permit for proof of a lawfully killed deer.
Second, a new requirement that income from depredation permits be used to help pay for abatement of damage caused by deer was included in LB 836. The bill also provides for unlimited free permits for the taking of antlerless deer for immediate family of landowners who own at least 20 acres of farm or ranch land within any depredation area designated by Game and Parks.
I hope that these new provisions will help reduce the damage caused by Nebraska's overpopulation of deer.
Finally, an amendment by Sen. Louden was adopted that establishes a depredation permit system for mountain lions that are killing livestock or poultry. The commission is required to confirm that a mountain lion caused damage, and then they can issue you a free depredation permit.
If you have any questions, comments, or concerns regarding this bill or any issue please call my office at 402-471-2805 or for more information you can view my legislative website at http://news.legislature.ne.gov/dist44/.