Mountain lion hunting discussed at hearing

Posted By: Jenn Schanz 

There was just one bill discussed before the Natural Resources Committee Thursday.

It was introduced by Sen. Ernie Chambers, and would outlaw the hunting of mountain lions in Nebraska.

“Wildlife is a resource for everybody in the state. Not just hunters,” Chambers said. 

He pushed for a similar bill last year, but it was vetoed by then-Governor Dave Heineman.

Chambers said to the committee Thursday, that if it’s again cast aside, he’ll keep coming back.

About 14 states currently have mountain lion populations. Of those surrounding Nebraska, hunting is allowed.

But the Game and Parks Commission put Nebraska‘s 2015 season on hold to do more research.

Chambers wants Game and Parks, the agency that’s tasked with regulating big game hunting, out of the picture when it comes to mountain lions.

“I think the intent of Game and Parks is to exterminate these animals. I don’t care what they say,” the senator said. 

“We’ve spent more than $115,000 on research already. We have four more years of research planned,” said Sam Wilson of the Games and Parks Commission.

Part of that research includes a GPS collar system.

Game and Parks has spent about $60,000 on it; so far they’ve tagged three mountain lions.

“The goal of the Commission is to maintain mountain lion populations in the state over the long term,” Wilson said.

If Chambers’ bill were to pass, a mountain lion that’s threatening a person or livestock could still be killed if a permit was obtained.

Since the species repopulated in Nebraska, there’s been no record of a mountain lion ever harming a person, and just one case of them interfering with livestock.

As of Thursday late afternoon, no action was taken on the bill.