By Joel Hodgdon, Central Midwestern States Coordinator
On April 6, Nebraska LB 1008 passed the state’s legislature 42-4 and now awaits Governors Sportsmen’s Caucus Member Governor Pete Ricketts’s signature into law. Introduced on January 16 by Nebraska Legislative Sportsmen’s Forum Member Senator Bruce Bostelman, this bill seeks to increase the liquidated damages levied against those who violate the state’s game laws by taking, selling, or possessing wildlife illegally.
Fines would include: $25,000 for each mountain sheep; $10,000 for each elk; $5,000 for each antelope, mountain lion, lynx, bobcat, or river otter; $500 for each wild turkey; a range of fees from $500 to $10,000 for whitetail deer; and $2,000 to $10,000 for each mule deer.
“Our fish and wild game belong to all Nebraskans, present and future. LB 1008 seeks to penalize those who would misuse our state’s wonderful and diverse natural resources,” said Sen. Bostelman. “Last year, we also made strides to bring Nebraska up to national wildlife violation standards with the passage of another bill I introduced, LB 566.”
In 2017, the state enacted NE LB 566, which joined Nebraska to the Interstate Wildlife Violators Compact, largely thanks to the efforts of the Nebraska Forum and Nebraska Sportsmen’s Foundation Executive Director Scott Smathers. The compact includes 47 states and shares information regarding poachers and other violators to stop the movement of their illegal activities to another state after receiving a violation.
“This bill was brought forward by sportsmen, for sportsmen,” said Smathers. “Our state’s hunters and anglers are overwhelmingly law-abiding citizens and conservationists. This bill will give our prosecutors and judges statewide a meaningful tool to use to crack down on the bad apples who abuse our game laws. We are grateful that we have legislators like Senator Bostelman who understand that and are willing to fight with us to do the right thing.”
Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?