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Game & Parks Commission gives NE rancher permission to kill 50 elk

Fish & Parks Commission gives Nebraska rancher permission to kill 50 elk

Photo credit: Shutterstock

After an elk herd caused a Nebraska rancher more than $100,000 in crop damage, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission (NGPC) has decided to give the Morrill County rancher permission to “kill up to 50 of the animals,” according to the Omaha World-Herald. The decision has angered many because elk permits are rare in the Cornhusker State since the state only approved 7% of the elk permits this year, leaving 5,000 hopeful hunters empty-handed. 

The special depredation permit is a result of pressure from State Senator Steve Erdman, who requested the unique arrangement on behalf of the landowner. However, according to one hunter, allowing one person a permit to kill 50 elk is “extreme.” That hunter told the Omaha World-Herald: “As a concerned sportsman and outdoorsman, this decision hits an all-time frustration with how our wildlife in the state is being managed by the Game and Parks Commission.”

In fact, with only five cows and three bulls harvested during the special permit state elk hunt, the decision to allow the rancher to kill 50 elk using “shooters” approved by NGPC has created a troubling situation where Sen. Erdman says he has been made a “scapegoat” and rancher Butch Schuler won’t answer his phone. 

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“He is not interested in giving any comments,’’ said his wife, Susan.

Yet, Schuler did bring his issue to light during a September public hearing of the state Legislature’s Natural Resources Committee as “part of an interim study introduced by State Sen. Dan Hughes of Venango” regarding LR 142, which was created “to take an in-depth look at the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, especially how it is handling big game wildlife management,” according to the Omaha World-Herald. During that hearing, Schuler provided drone footage that showed “extensive crop damage” to his corn crop by roughly 100 elk and said it cost him more than $100,000. 

What makes this situation different is that, in Nebraska, depredation permits are common, but usually apply to deer. 

“We issued the 50 this time because we got a demand from a senator that we needed to respond immediately to really severe damage occurring,’’ said Jim Douglas, NGPC director. “We did not want anyone to believe that we weren’t responding in the right proportion to the situation. We also know it was highly unlikely that anything approaching that number would actually be killed. Which has proven to be the case.’’

Regardless, NGPC’s decision has caused major tension in Morrill County. At least families in the area will benefit from the special permit since meat from the animals will be donated to them.


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Samuel K. - posted 4 months ago on 11-25-2019 10:50:21 am
Sidney, NE

I am a resident in Nebraska and this is a very big issue, especially moving forward with elk in the state. In October I had a conversation with Sen. Erdman (which turned into a debate more than a conversation) about the decision to give out 50 "damage" tags after he pressured the NGPC (these tags are also either sex, anything goes). The main fact I came away with after my phone call with Sen. Erdman was that his only interest in the elk herd was keeping his reputation with the NE cattle community. After further research I found that the Schuler Red Angus ranch (Butch Schuler) charges $5,000 for access to take a trophy grade bull elk if you drew a limited entry tag. While damage did occur to the corn crop, most if not all crop farmers have crop insurance.

In the future, I would imagine that this scenario might happen again as the NE elk herd grows. Advocacy will need to be a priority on our part as hunters, especially hunters in Nebraska. Maybe the RMEF can get involved with NGPC and the NE Natural Resources Committee so a drastic population reduction does not happen again following this process.
-Samuel Koeshall

rick b. - posted 4 months ago on 11-16-2019 08:06:05 am

yeah why doesn’t NGCP say sure you can have the permits and we’ll hold a special lottery and you’ll hold the property open to permit holders. how hard would that be to come up with? not very

Gary H. - posted 4 months ago on 11-14-2019 04:01:57 am

I want to know about these "shooters" how they are chosen and why they are chosen.

Bet you 100$ the senator knows half of them and this douche bag rancher knows the other half and its a money making scheme.

This whole situation smells like foul play. But nothing surprises me.

Brady J. Miller
Brady M. - posted 4 months ago on 11-13-2019 10:36:14 am
Las Vegas, NV
goHUNT Team

@Michael - Haha! That is so perfect in this situation!

Michael E. - posted 4 months ago on 11-12-2019 05:07:01 pm
Camas, Washington

Dear Nebraska Game & Parks,
"At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul."