ALERT! Sign petition to continue protection of cougars in Nebraska!
A Care2 petition to list cougars as endangered in Nebraska has been posted – http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/list-mountain-lion-as-endangered-in-nebraska/
This petition opposes bill LB928, introduced by Senator LeRoy Louden to the Nebraska legislature. The bill would allow Nebraska residents to purchase a chance to kill a cougar for a $25.00 fee. Non-residents would purchase permits in an auction.
The situation in Nebraska is not accurately described in the preface to the petition. Cougars from the Black Hills of South Dakota have recolonized the Pine Ridge area in the northwestern corner of Nebraska. The first kitten was documented in 2007. Young male cougars born in the Pine Ridge are showing up along Nebraska rivers to the east and south of the Pine Ridge. (Go to http://outdoornebraska.ne.gov/wildlife/wildlife_species_guide/pdf/Mountain%20Lion%20Map_PR.pdf for a map.) DNA analysis of cougar droppings located by trained dogs in 2011 in the Pine Ridge showed a minimum of 8 males and 5 females.
Cougars are now protected in Nebraska, but ranchers and law enforcement officials can kill individuals that turn up in towns and near ranch buildings. No attacks on livestock or people have been documented.
The Nebraska Game & Parks Commission is not opposing the bill. Sam Wilson, the state wildlife biologist monitoring the cougar population, said, “It will not lead to uncontrolled hunting or the decimation of mountain lions.”
But the Cougar Rewilding Foundation is worried that what has happened in South Dakota, Wyoming and North Dakota could happen in Nebraska. For three years in a row, the commissioners of the South Dakota Department of Game, Fisheries and Parks have ignored the recommendations of their biologists, continually upping the cougar hunting quota. A similar disregard of sound cougar management is ongoing in the Wyoming portion of the Black Hills. The Black Hills population could even be wiped out. The goal of cougar management in North Dakota is to contain the population to its present range in the Badlands, reducing the likelihood of recolonization of Minnesota and other midwestern states. We cannot rule out the possibility that once cougar hunting has been approved, the commissioners of the Nebraska Game & Parks will bow to hunters and ranchers and similarly ignore their biologists in Nebraska and set overly high quotas that could destroy its small breeding population.