Wildlife group wants an elk on a Nebraska license plate near you

Wildlife group wants an elk on a Nebraska license plate near you
A design featuring a wide-antlered elk, with the Nebraska grasslands and blue sky in the background, won the approval of the Nebraska Big Game Society. NEBRASKA BIG GAME SOCIETY

A Nebraska wildlife group has proposed that a bull elk grace Nebraska’s next animal-themed license plate.

The Nebraska Big Game Society this fall asked Chadron State College graphic design students to create a license plate design featuring one of Nebraska’s big-game animals.

One student utilized the image of a bighorn sheep, and seven others designed theirs using elk, said Jon Thomas, executive director of the nonprofit Nebraska Big Game Society.

Chadron State senior Riley Ellis’ wide-antlered elk, with the Nebraska grasslands and a vast blue sky in the background, won the society’s approval.

“All the designs were great,” Thomas said. “We have eight, and the other seven are just equally as awesome.”

Thomas said it was his understanding that the society must have Nebraska legislative support for the design in order to allocate the proceeds for educational purposes, which is the society’s intention. So it will take months before the design can be taken to the Department of Motor Vehicles for its scrutiny and approval, he said.

Ellis, a graphic design major, said he won “a little bit of bragging rights” with the selection of his piece. His design transposed a photograph of a bull elk over a photo he had taken of a western Nebraska landscape.

“It’s really cool to have a class where you can take real-world opportunities like this,” said Ellis, a full-time student from Harrison, Nebraska, who works two jobs.

The class that was involved in the project was overseen by Mary Donahue, a Chadron State art professor. “The students loved working on it,” Donahue said.

The Nebraska Department of Motor Vehicles introduced a mountain lion license plate in 2016. That plate exceeded sales expectations, with people buying about 21,350 mountain lion plates in its first year. The Nebraska Big Game Society didn’t produce that plate.

The society’s revenue comes primarily from memberships, donations and auctions. The organization helps acquire habitat for big-game conservation, encourages education so that Nebraskans become stewards of wildlife and supports research involving wildlife.

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