KIMBALL, Neb. — Kimball and Nebraska Game and Parks authorities removed a mountain lion from a tree here Saturday.
Kimball resident Bob Rutledge spotted the mountain lion lounging in a tree in the 1000 block of East Third Street, which is also Highway 30. The Rutledge home is across the street from Gotte Park, which Kimball Police Chief Mark Simpson estimated is 100 to 150 yards from the Rutledge home.
Rutledge contacted the Kimball Police Department. Personnel arrived and contacted Nebraska Game and Parks authorities. A Nebraska Game and Parks conservation officer tranquilized the cat, which was removed from the tree using a bucket truck borrowed by Rutledge's brother, Dave Rutledge.
Mountain lions “are big cats and are unpredictable,” Simpson said, saying the public was in danger because of the cat's location within the city limits. “We are blessed not to have had anybody hurt.”
The mountain lion, a 90-pound male, was euthanized in accordance with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission mountain lion response plan, said Sam Wilson, furbearer and carnivore program manager for the commission.
Wilson said the plan calls for the euthanization of any mountain lion found within a municipality “to err on the side of safety for the residents.”
Like the mountain lion found Saturday, most mountain lions discovered within municipalities are males, Wilson said. He said the animals usually have moved out of other areas dominated by another male mountain lion. The male could have wandered into the community from Wyoming, Colorado or the Pine Ridge, where female mountain lions capable of reproducing have been documented.
Mountain lions became a protected species under Nebraska law in 1995 and can't be hunted. However, they can be killed if they are threatening livestock or the safety of others.
To his knowledge, Simpson said, it is the first time that a mountain lion has been spotted within the city of Kimball in recent years. Simpson said others have told him of reports of mountain lion sightings in rural areas around the community.