Nebraska mountain lion

A mountain lion takes refuge by a creek near Harrison, Nebraska, shortly before it was shot during the inaugural cougar-hunting season in 2014.


LINCOLN — A legislative committee voted Tuesday to kill a proposal that would outlaw mountain lion hunting in Nebraska.

The Legislature’s Natural Resources Committee voted 8-0 to indefinitely postpone Legislative Bill 127, which would prevent the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission from setting mountain lion hunting seasons. State Sen. Ernie Chambers introduced the bill last year, but the committee took no definitive action on the measure.

“I think that Game and Parks is the entity that needs to control wildlife in the state and hunting is a good way for Game and Parks to administer that,” said State Sen. Ken Schilz of Ogallala.

Other committee members expressed concern that if the Legislature tells the agency how to manage one species, it will get pressure from outside groups to ban hunting of other game animals.

Chambers said Tuesday he wasn’t surprised by the committee’s vote, but he wasn’t persuaded by those arguments. He also declined to reveal his next step.

“We have a session during which this issue will figure prominently,” he said. “The way they have been dealing with me has set a tone that will dictate how I will deal with them.”

Among his options, Chambers could try to pull the bill onto the floor for debate, but that would require the vote of 30 of 49 senators. He also could choose to introduce a new bill, but it would have to go through a public hearing and another committee vote.

In 2014, the committee advanced Chambers’ mountain lion bill by a vote of 6-2. But only two senators who cast that vote remain on the committee.

The full Legislature passed the measure in 2014, but Chambers could not muster the 30 votes needed to override a veto by then-Gov. Dave Heineman.

The state held its first mountain lion hunting season in 2014, which resulted in the killing of five big cats. Because 11 additional mountain lions were killed outside of the season in traps, on roadways or by other means, state officials decided not to hold a hunting season in 2015.

The commission again suspended the season for this year as wildlife biologists carry out a research project to better determine the species’ population and how big cats use habitat and prey animals in the state.

Contact the writer: 402-473-9587, joe.duggan@owh.com

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