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article imageNebraska mountain lions force state to develop new regulations

By Nancy Houser     Sep 29, 2013 in Environment
By January of 2014, a sharp increase in Nebraska mountain lions is forcing the state to expand its hunting regulations. The first season on mountain lions will begin from Jan. 1 to February 14, 2014. The second season will be Feb. 15 to March 31, 2014.
Up until recently, primary sightings were of young male mountain lions, on the search for mates. The Black Hills of South Dakota have approximately 250 mountain lions in their Pine Ridge area, traveling down into the Nebraska section of the hills.
The mountain lions of Nebraska are North America's largest native cat. One of the few true carnivores, it feeds on deer, coyotes, raccoons, or porcupines. Mountain lions were eradicated in Nebraska by the end of the 1800s, along with a sharp decrease of white tail deer due to lack of state control and a lack of hunting morals.
According to Jeff Hoffman, Nebraska Game and Parks Wildlife Division Assistant Administrator, the Nebraska's mountain lions are making a comeback from their once nearly extinct state, "From 2007 to 2011, there were 115 confirmations," Hoffman says. These numbers were compared to the nearly-extinct state populations prior to the 1990s.
Current sightings in the Pine Ridge area include reproducing mountain lion prides, with males, females and cubs. Sightings of the mountain lions were non-existent until 1990, when new sightings have made Nebraska the number one state for confirmed sightings of the mountain lions. An increase in Nebraska mountain lions is thought to be because of an increase in the number of deer and an increase in mountain lions coming from the Black HIlls of South Dakota.
Nebraska mountain lions have forced the state to expand on its hunting regulations due to an increase in numbers of the large predator and more sightings of mountain lion families.
Hunting regulations
Nebraska is issuing 100 permits by lottery to Nebraska residents, with one permit issued to each resident. Hunters are required to report the kill within eight hours to the Nebraska Games and Park in person, by phone, or by website to report the location of the kill. The hunter needs to bring the unfrozen carcass directly to the division before 24 hours to receive the harvest seal. At this time the Commission will remove two premolar teeth and tissue to help identify the mountain lion.
There are three areas of sightings for Nebraska mountain lions: (1) Keya Paha; (2) Pine Ridge; (3) Prairie; and (4) Upper Platte. The only open areas are Praire, with an unlimited quota, and Pine Ridge, with two hunting seasons. The limit in Pine Ridge includes the first season is from January 1 to February 14, 2014, for two mountain lions, and with a subquota of one female. The second season from February 15 to March 31, 2014, for two mountain lions, with a subquota of one female. The bag limit is one mountain lion of either sex, shot 30 minutes before sunrise and 30 minutes after sunrise.
Unlawful acts during mountain lion seasons
--- It is unlawful to kill a mountain lion accompanied by a spotted cub or a mate with it.
--- It is unlawful to hunt a mountain lion with a limited kill quota without confirmation
--- It is unlawful to kill a mountain lion within a closed season
--- It is unlawful to hunt mountain lions with hunting dogs, traps or bait (NOTE: it is lawful to use dogs in the Pine Ridge unit during Season 1; it is legal to use dogs in the Prairie Unit from January 1, 2014 to March 31, 2014 in the Prairie unit)
--- It is unlawful to fail to check or report any taken mountain lion.
--- It is illegal to kill a mountain lion with 24 hours of obtaining a mountain lion permit.
--- It is illegal to obtain more than one mountain lion permit per annual year.
(Taken from Nebraska Administrative Codes)
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