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Does Nebraska really need a mountain lion season?
We have to wonder why a state senator from Omaha would be concerned about something that goes on the the farthest reaches of the state, but that's before we are reminded that it's Sen. Ernie Chambers, who takes delight in tweaking the nose of the Nebraska establishment.
The latest is his bill to repeal a 2012 law, passed while Chambers was on a term-limit-imposed hiatus from the Legislature, which allows the Game and parks Commission to issue mountain lion hunting permits.
Mountain lions have been a controversial issue in Southwest Nebraska, where they were blamed for livestock deaths, but officials often attributed them to other predators.
Mountain lions lived in Nebraska before European settlers hunted and poisoned them out of existence here.
The wide-ranging animals have slowly re-established themselves, responding to the lead of the elk and the exploding population of deer.
Chambers argues that the new season isn't about hunting, but about eradicating mountain lions in the state again.
Opponents to Chambers' bill say the season provides Game and parks with a tool to control the mountain lion population, which numbers about 22 in the Pine Ridge area in Northwest Nebraska. There have been about 104 confirmed sightings outside the Pine Ridge, notably in Kearney and along the Missouri River.
Confirmed mountain lion sightings are rare in Southwest Nebraska, but it's said that hunters may have never seen a mountain lion, but a mountain lion has probably seen them.
We have yet to be convinced that Nebraska truly needs a hunting season for an animal as rare as mountain lions. An expanded deer season, however, is an entirely different matter.
What do you think about Chambers' bill?
Vote at mccookgazette.com
While they rarely interact with humans, it's not unreasonable to take precautions when venturing into the countryside, especially along rivers and in canyons with young children.
The Game and Parks Commission offers the following steps to take if you encounter one:
* Do not approach a mountain lion.
* Leave the animal an avenue of escape.
* Stay calm, move slowly.
* Back away safely if you can. Do not turn your back to the lion or start running.
* Raise your arms or backpack to appear larger.
* Lift up your children to prevent them from running.
* If you are being attacked fight back. Mountain lions have been successfully driven off with bare hands. Use rocks, or whatever you can get your hands on. Try to remain on your feet or get back up if knocked down.
Check out the NGPC mountain lion page here: http://1.usa.gov/1nIrmXe