Posted By: Hannah Paczkowski
Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha said he's the defendant of the downtrodden. Friday, he stood up for those who he said couldn't be at the legislature, mountain lions.
"We're all part of the physical universe and my obligation as I see it is to look after every aspect of it I can that needs looking after," he said.
Chambers is fighting to repeal mountain lion hunting in Nebraska. Currently, the rule is only four can be hunted a year, two each season. If hunters shoot a female, the season ends immediately.
If this bill becomes law, it will be illegal for hunters to shoot mountain lions for game, but the bill would allow a person to kill a mountain lion that is a threat to them or their livestock.
The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission said they're remaining neutral on the situation and they trust the legislature's decision.
"They provide the guidance for us in terms of how we operate and how we set seasons and if they change direction, we'll change direction without a mountain lion season," deputy director Tim McCoy said.
Some senators representing rural towns, however, beg to differ.
"There's a lot of space between one house to another, farmstead to another farmstead, and it is frightening for a lot of people when you see a mountain lion," Sen. John Harms said.
Even with the mixed reviews, Senator Chambers' bill passed the first round by a landslide: 31 ayes and five nays.
"You'll never see me do this again, thanks for the vote," Chambers said.
In 2012, Nebraska Game and Parks estimated a population of about 22 mountain lions. Now the bill will go to the second round of debate. They can vote to officially pass it in the third round.