Wildlife Management Areas
Hunters and anglers pay the entire bill for the acquisition, development and maintenance of these areas through the purchase of hunting and fishing permits and Habitat Stamps and through excise taxes on hunting and fishing equipment.
Access to these lands is free, and no entry permit is necessary. However, to protect these areas and their many assets, there are certain rules that all must abide by. This pamphlet lists most general regulations that apply to public use of these wildlife areas. However, this is just a synopsis. Special regulations apply on some areas, like Clear Creek, Schilling and others. For answers to specific questions, please contact your local Game and Parks Commission office or conservation officer.
We hope your outing is an enjoyable one ... but remember, the true nature enthusiast leaves nothing behind but footprints.
Camping is permitted unless otherwise posted or restricted by special area regulations. Camping is truly primitive, for generally there are no facilities on these areas.
Special permission is required for group camping on any state wildlife area by any type of group, such as Scouts, 4-H, civic clubs or other organizations. To obtain a "Special Occasion Permit," contact the area manager, District Wildlife Manager or the Game and Parks Commission in Lincoln.
House Pets, Horses and Livestock
House pets (dogs, cats, etc.) are allowed when camping or on other outings, unless otherwise posted or prohibited by special area regulations. However, they must be kept on leash or otherwise physically restrained.
Horseback riding is permitted, except where posted otherwise.
Grazing or ranging domestic livestock or poultry is not permitted, except by written permission of the Game and Parks Commission.
Wildlife areas are open to dog training, exercise, running and hunting (in season), except from May 1 through July 31 of each year. However, some areas may be posted as closed or special area regulations may apply. Professional dog trainers are prohibited from using these areas for training.
Where an area is posted as an "Authorized Dog Training Area," training is permitted year-round. Lands posted as "Dog Trial Areas" are closed to dog training activities.
Fires and Fireworks
Open fires are permitted only in fireplaces, grills, or fire rings where provided by the Commission. Visitors may also use their personal gas/propane stoves, charcoal grills and the like. All other fires are prohibited.
The use of any kind of fireworks is unlawful at all times.
Swimming, Wading and Boating
Swimming is prohibited in waters on state wildlife areas, except where swimming facilities are specifically provided and the area is posted to allow swimming. Where swimming is permitted, all flotation devices are prohibited except for U.S. Coast Guard approved life preservers.
Wading is allowed when fishing, hunting or trapping, although some areas may be posted against wading due to hazardous conditions.
Boating is permitted as posted on each area or as specified in the current Nebraska Boating Guide.
All motorized vehicles are restricted to roadways, parking areas or trails specifically designated for vehicle use. No off-road vehicles are permitted.
Traffic signs are posted on some areas, but regardless of whether signed or not, all vehicles must be operated at a speed and manner that is reasonable and prudent under prevailing conditions.
Fishing, Hunting, Trapping and Target Shooting
State wildlife areas are open to fishing, hunting, and trapping, in season, except where closed (or restricted) by signing or special area regulations. Please check the current
Hunting Guide or Fishing Guide for specific regulations.
Target shooting is permitted on most areas, although there are a few where this activity is prohibited. They are posted with appropriate signs.
Seasonal blinds may be installed on wildlife areas on the following reservoir areas: Calamus, Garfield and Loup counties; Elwood, Gosper County; Enders, Chase County; Lewis and Clark, Knox County; McConaughy, Keith County; Medicine Creek, Frontier County; Merritt, Cherry County; Red Willow, Frontier County; Sherman, Sherman County, and Swanson, Hitchcock County.
These seasonal blinds are subject to the following provisions and regulations:
- Such blinds may not be erected before September 1.
- The owner's name and address must be legibly displayed on the door of the blind.
- The door must be constructed so it can be opened from the outside whenever the blind is unoccupied.
- Blinds must remain unlocked when not in use.
- The first person to occupy a seasonal blind each day shall be entitled to the use of the blind for that day.
- Seasonal blinds may not be installed on areas that are signed to prohibit their use.
- The person who installs such a blind is responsible for its removal before May 1 following the close of the waterfowl seasons.
- Portable blinds for hunting waterfowl may be used on state wildlife areas unless otherwise posted or restricted by area regulations. Portable blinds must be removed at the close of hunting each day.
Ice Fishing Shelters
Ice fishing shelters are allowed on state wildlife areas, provided the owner has an ice fishing shelter permit and complies with the special regulations that govern their use.
No permit is required for the use of temporary, portable shelters that are removed from the ice each day. Portable shelters are not subject to the regulations that apply to seasonal ice fishing shelters.
Portable tree stands and/or steps may be used on state wildlife lands, but they must be removed within 15 days of the close of the hunting season.
It is unlawful to build or use any permanent or semi-permanent tree stand or steps that attach to any tree with nails, screws, bolts or wire.
The sale of goods, services, products or commodities is prohibited on state wildlife areas, except under written authorization of the Game and Parks Commission.
Special Occasion Permits
"Special Occasion Permits" are required to conduct any group activity on a state wildlife area. This includes such things as group camping, sports events, pageants, reenactments, regattas, entertainments, public meetings, assemblies, gatherings, demonstrations, parades, religious services and similar activities or events.
To inquire about such a permit, contact the area manager or the Wildlife district field supervisor in the district where the area is located.
It is unlawful to injure, deface, destroy, remove or disturb any building, sign, equipment, monument, statue, marker or other structure.
It is further unlawful to possess, destroy, injure, deface, remove or disturb any animal or plant material and the direct or indirect products thereof, including but not limited to flower, cane or fruit, nest, egg, den or any soil, rock mineral formation, petrified wood, artifact, relic, historic or prehistoric feature, or any other public property of any kind.
This does not apply to any animal or fish legally taken during the open seasons for hunting, trapping or fishing.