CRAWFORD, Neb. — Nebraska’s wild elk herd has consistently grown in recent decades.
An estimated 2,600 were in the state at the start of last fall’s hunting season.
Elk were sporadically sighted in the 1950s in northwest Nebraska.
Carcasses of tagged Wyoming elk were found near Hay Springs and Harrison in the late 1960s. By the 1970s, a resident elk herd was established along Bordeaux Creek near Chadron.
Landowners’ complaints about elk damaging crops and fences led to Nebraska’s first modern-day elk hunt in 1986.
Herds took hold in north-central Nebraska’s Boyd County, in the Loess Hills of Lincoln County near North Platte and along the North Platte River in the Panhandle.
The northern Sand Hills elk along the Niobrara are thought to have originated from the Rosebud Sioux Indian Reservation to the north in South Dakota.
Demand is high for general hunting permits and landowner bull permits, according to the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. Hunting helps keep the elk population within landowner tolerances and maintains herd health.
Hunters killed a record 105 bull elk in Nebraska last year.
— David Hendee