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Nebraska Game & Parks concludes their 2013 Recommendations for Mountain Lion Hunting with these words:

“The Commission intends to manage mountain lion populations over time with consideration given to social acceptance, effects on prey populations, depredation on pets and livestock, and human safety.”

Public attitude surveys about cougars in Nebraska are absent from the Recommendations. Cougar deer predation data is absent from the Recommendations.  Data on pet and livestock damage from cougars is absent from the Recommendations (there have been no incidents of predation on pets or livestock documented in Nebraska). There are no incidents of a cougar engaged in predation of a person documented in Nebraska (there have been no confirmed human incidents in any of the Prairie cougar colonies east of the Rockies). Absent any examples of conflict in the Recommendations, the Cougar Rewilding Foundation has requested information on all these  stated “considerations,” but Nebraska Game & Parks has provided none. They didn’t even respond.

Absent any examples of conflict in 20 years of peaceful co-existence with cougars, Nebraska is now targeting for reduction a stable (by definition a population of little conflict) and recovering cougar population that has conducted itself admirably for a generation.  Why mess with it? 

Make no mistake, Nebraska Game and Parks are basing their Mountain Lion Hunting Recommendations on fear and prejudice – not experience or science.  

The agency has revised an earlier proposal to take two males or one female from a breeding population of 15-22 cats up to 4 cats with a 2 female sub quota (18% – 27% of the total estimate) in the Pine Ridge National Forest, with the stated aim of reducing the Pine Ridge population, while instituting an unlimited year-round season for 85% of the rest of the state, further reducing chances for cougar dispersal and recolonization eastward.

You know by now that taking more than 14% of a cougar population (average yearly reproduction rate) disrupts cougar social order, increasing the likelihood of the very things the Nebraska proposal wishes to contain: conflicts among pets, livestock, people and cougars. The safest way to manage any cougar population is to leave it alone – cougars police themselves – taking problem individuals out at the source. Several months ago, we sent Nebraska Game & Parks a link to Washington State University’s Effects of Sport Hunting video. They thanked us.

The Cougar Rewilding Foundation is not opposed to hunting based on sound science. But once again, we have a state hunting proposal in a national forest – a national forest owned by every US taxpayer, not just Nebraskans –  that ignores science. We might recommend a reduced quota, but given Game & Park’s bald refusal of the peer-reviewed WSU guidelines to minimize cougar conflicts recently adopted by Washington State, we’re suggesting the Commissioners scrap this proposal and get honest with Nebraskans, rather than sacrifice one cat as a compromise.

The next public hearing will take place Friday July 26th, 2013 in Lincoln.

What you can do:

Write the Governor, the Commission(ers), and the Supervisor of Nebraska’s National Forests by Wednesday, July 24th. The Cougar Fund has provided a fact sheet with talking points, and a sample letter listing addresses to all the relevant officials. 

 

 

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