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Union is a very small town in extreme eastern Nebraska, almost on the Iowa line, not far from the NW border of Missouri.


The Journal

Game and Parks investigating report
of mountain lion in southeast Nebraska area

Patti Jo Peterson
Managing editor

Rural Union resident Christina Burggraff told her mother, Lori Burggraff, she took a photograph through a window in their home of this mountain lion sitting outside about 25 feet away. Game and Parks Commission is investigating the sighting, which so far, has been deemed "unconfirmed."

Nebraska Game and Parks Commission is investigating an unconfirmed report of a mountain lion sighting in the Beaver Lake and Union area.

Christina Burggraff contacted Game and Parks about seeing the mountain lion about 25 feet from her parents’ rural home at 3811 Sixth Ave. Union.

The Burggraffs live about 3.5 miles south of Beaver Lake and east of Norwood Sales, Christina’s mother, Lori Burggraff, told The Journal.

Christina had noticed many of their adult farm cats had recently gone missing. Christina reported first seeing the mountain lion Tuesday, and again Wednesday, Lori said.

Lori said her daughter photographed the mountain lion through a window of the house on her cell phone and forwarded it to Game and Parks and The Journal.

Lori believes the mountain lion is coming closer to the house now for the younger kittens.

Christina reported seeing it again today (Oct. 21.)

“She saw it snatch up one of the kittens earlier today. Then she said it was on the roof. We have an earth home. She said it peered through the window,” Lori said.

Game and Parks staff have been onsite and searched the area. “The game warden came out and searched the area,” Lori said.

So far no mountain lion tracks have been found. “They said that wasn’t surprising with all the dry weather we’ve been having,” Lori said.

Game and Parks wildlife district manager/biologist Pat Molini said sightings of mountain lions in southeast Nebraska are very rare.

“They are one of the rarest mammals in the state of Nebraska,” Molini said.

Nevertheless, Game and Parks is taking Christina’s sighting seriously and trying to confirm it. “We can’t confirm the photo,” Molini said. “We’ve got cameras up and are hoping to catch it on camera, if it is there. Human safety is our number one priority. We’ve made sure she’s safe and want the pets and livestock safe.”

However, Molini said the Commission does not want people to panic. He said mountain lions are moving into Nebraska, but have generally been sighted in the Panhandle area, not southeast Nebraska, which claims 66 percent of the state’s residential population.

Molini admitted some young male lions are leaving South Dakota to follow white-tail deer, one of their main food sources. He stressed, however, that these have not been found southeast of Interstate 80. “We just have not confirmed that many. We have a lot of reports, but in many cases they are disproved or unconfirmed. Of those southeast of I-80, zero have been confirmed,” he said.

If someone does spot a mountain lion, Molini said he or she should remember not to turn around and run from it.

“Make yourself appear larger. Wave your arms in the air. If you have a backpack wave it in the air. Don’t corner it, just slowly back away. If there are small children, pick them up and hold them, and of course, report any sighting to Nebraska Game and Parks.”

“We’re very cautious. Most of your readers are not going to ever be near or see a mountain lion,” Molini said. “They are not everywhere. They are not behind every tree.”

In the event Game and Parks finds a mountain lion in the area, Molini said staff would follow an already-established protocol in dealing with it, noting that human safety is the first and the safety of pets and livestock the second priority.

On Monday, Game and Parks euthanized a mountain lion in the front yard of a home three miles north of Scottsbluff.

According to a news report entitled “Mountain Lion euthanized outside of Scottsbluff” on the Commission’s Web site:outdoornebraska.ne.gov, two teen-ager were jumping on a trampoline in their front yard, when their dog started barking at a nearby tree. The teen-agers spotted the large cat on a branch and immediately told their father, who notified the proper authorities.

“Mountain lions are protected year-round in Nebraska unless they are preying on livestock or posing a threat to people,” said Sam Wilson, Game and Parks nongame mammal/furbearer program manager, on a news release from the Web site. “It is an extremely unfortunate situation when an animal such as a mountain lion has to be killed, but there are times when the public safety comes first.”

According to the Commission, there have been 118 confirmed mountain lion sights in Nebraska since 1991.



Mountain lion photo found on the Internet

Patti Jo Peterson
Managing editor

A photo of a mountain lion reported to be in the Union and Beaver Lake area has been traced to the Internet, according to Nebraska Game and Parks officials.

Game and Parks District Manager Pat Molini said Friday, Oct. 22, the photograph was taken in 2006 by professional photographer, Mark Anderson, in another part of the United States.

Anderson owns his photography businesses in Maryland and said he shot the photograph of the mountain lion in question in Montana four years ago. Courtesy of  Anderson, The Journal is posting his original photo of the mountain lion, along with this story on its Web site: cass-news.com

Anderson can be reached at mark@manderson.com or via phone at 301.253.2147. He also has a Web site of his work at: manderson.com

The Union woman claiming the photograph as one she took with her cell phone outside her parents’ home, Christina M. Burggraff, emailed a letter to The Journal Oct. 22, apologizing for using Anderson’s photograph but still asserting she truly saw the mountain lion.

“I am very sorry for claiming the photo of the mountain lion as my own,” she writes in the email. “When I [sic] say it that first day I couldn’t believe my eyes. I didn’t think you would believe me when I said that I came face to face with a mountain lion right by my house.”

Burggraff said she looked for a photo on the Internet that looked like the mountain lion she saw. “I took a picture of it with my cell phone and claimed it as my own. I know this was very wrong of me to do. I am very ashamed of it.

“But what was the truth is that mountain lion is out there. And everyone of the encounters that I have had with  it are true. I just don’t have proof. I will continue to hopefully get proof to redeem myself.”

Game and Parks nongame mammal furbearing program manager Sam Wilson said if there is any physical evidence of a mountain lion in the state they will send out a news release. There is also a map of mouintain lion confirmations on the Nebraska Game and Parks Web site:outdoornebraska.ne.gov/

Historically, instances of mountain lions attacking humans is very rare, he said. Of between 30,000 and 50,000 mountain lions in the United States and Canada, only 22 instances of them killing a  human have ever been recorded.

“We’re a scientific agency and we’re always looking for facts,” Wilson said. “When signs of a mountain lion are discovered, we post a news release.”

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