Nebraska’s second mountain lion hunting season in the Pine Ridge closed Wednesday when a hunter shot and killed a female cougar.
William “Paul’’ Hotz of Gordon, Neb., killed the cat in Sheridan County, according to the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.
The 102-pound lion was estimated to be 5½ years old and appeared to have been in good health.
It showed no signs of lactation or dependent young.
One of its ears had a tag from South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Department. Wildlife biologists say Nebraska’s cougar population, first confirmed in 1991, is made up of migrants from South Dakota, Wyoming and Colorado.
Pine Ridge hunters were allowed to bag a total of two males or one female. The season, which opened Feb. 15, closed immediately because the mountain lion was a female. The season was scheduled to end March 31 if hunters didn’t fill the quota of two males or one female.
Hotz was one of 100 hunters who held permits won in a Game and Parks lottery for the current season. Dozens of hunters turned out during opening weekend in northwest Nebraska but were frustrated by a lack of snow to find cougar tracks.
This could be the state’s first and last mountain lion hunting season. The Nebraska Legislature is considering a bill to ban the hunting of the big cats.
Legislative Bill 671 cleared the first of three rounds of consideration Friday. The bill, sponsored by State Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha, carries an emergency clause, meaning it would become law when signed by the governor.
Season 1 in the Pine Ridge Unit closed when the two lone hunters with permits each killed a mountain lion Jan. 2.
Unless it’s cut short by Chambers’ bill, mountain lion hunting continues in the Prairie Unit, which encompasses most of the state.
Biologists estimate the rugged Pine Ridge region held a breeding population of about 22 cougars.