Western Nebraska Wildfires Affect Hunting Season

Sept. 22, 2020, 5:14 p.m. ·

(Photo Courtesy Nebraska Emergency Management Agency on Twitter)

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More than a thousand acres of land burned at the Williams Gap Wildlife Management Area in Banner County while the Aristocrat Fire south of Chadron burned 400 acres. Hunting season and wildlife will be temporarily affected because of the fires.

Fields of trees and steep terrain turned the fire at the wildlife area, dubbed the "Hubbards Gap Fire," into a large one that was difficult to fight, according to Bryce Gerlach, rural forester with the Nebraska Forest Service. The wildlife area, popular with bighorn sheep for its sandstone cliffs, lost a lot of trees.

Northwest District Wildlife Manager Hunter Baillie said time will tell if more moisture comes through to attract more turkeys and deer again.

“A lot of the cover is burnt up, so it's going to be a lot more difficult to hunt, and game use temporarily could be limited," Baillie said. "We'll probably see a lot less hunters out there using their area.”

Grass is still dry and fields could burn again. Until more moisture or snowfall lands, fire season is still here. Officials suspect human activity may have caused the Hubbards Gap Fire.

“We definitely don't want to always have to fight wildfires every year, especially ones that are caused by humans potentially. We'd rather not have to," Baillie said. "We're definitely part of it and want to be out there if it happens. But, we don't want to put a lot of people's property and life at risk for stuff that may not be necessary.”