As the 2017 legislative session winds down in Lincoln, Nebraska, two important pieces of pro-sportsmen legislation were signed into law. Both bills were championed by the Nebraska Legislative Sportsmen’s Forum and the Nebraska Sportsmen’s Foundation.
Nebraska L 566, signed by Governors Sportsmen’s Caucus Member Governor Pete Ricketts on April 27, joined Nebraska with the 44 other states within the Interstate Wildlife Violators Compact. The Compact facilitates the sharing of information regarding individuals who have violated wildlife laws. The availability of this information helps state fish and wildlife agencies stop poachers and other wildlife violators from moving their illegal activities from state to state. In addition, LB 566 increases penalties for certain violations of Nebraska game law. Originally filed as LB 635, the provisions to increase penalties for game violations were requested by members of the state’s sportsmen’s community in an effort to combat poaching violations and disregard for Nebraska’s natural resources.
Passed out of the legislature with a unanimous vote, L 584 was signed by Governor Ricketts on May 12. Sponsored by Nebraska Legislative Sportsmen’s Forum Chair Senator Curt Friesen, this bill postpones roadside, shoulder, or drainage ditch mowing until July of a given year. Waiting until mid-summer to mow these areas conserves nesting habitat for upland game birds and other wildlife, which is likely to help increase the population of species such as quail, pheasants, and pollinators.
“Bills such as NE L 584 that improve habitat for game and non-game species are crucial to ensuring that future Nebraskans have the opportunity to appreciate our state’s wildlife and outdoor heritage,” said Chairman Friesen. “I’m very proud of the legislative success that our forum has had this session on behalf of Nebraska’s hunters, anglers, recreational shooters, and trappers. I believe we can build upon these successes next year working alongside the Nebraska Sportsmen’s Foundation and our other partners in the conservation community.”
Nebraska is home to over 289,000 hunters and anglers who annually spend upwards of $780 million a year, supporting about 12,000 jobs in the state. In 2015 alone, Nebraska sportsmen and women contributed $36 million through the American System of Conservation Funding.
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?