Mountain Lions Will Be Hunted in Nebraska
Mountain lions will be hunted in most parts of Nebraska in 2014. It will be the first year hunting of them will occur in the state (South Dakota has already allowed a number of hunts.)
Curiously, there is only one area of Nebraska that is known to have a reproducing population of mountain lions. Pine Ridge is the name of this site, and there are only 15-22 cats there. Six or less are female. The rationale for allowing a mountain lion hunting season is to cause a modest reduction in the number of Pine Ridge mountain lions. However, no attacks or incidents by them upon humans have taken place.
Since 1991 there have been just 92 confirmed sightings of mountain lions outside of Pine Ridge. That is only about 4.5 confirmed sightings per year. Further, mountain lions can wander for hundreds of miles. So, a mountain lion sighted in Nebraska may only have been passing through as it roamed into Missouri and beyond. (One mountain lion was documented to have roamed through multiple states and over 1,000 miles, only to be hit and killed by an SUV in Connecticut.)
Commissioner Mark Spurgin of Paxton said the hunt is needed, partly because some people don’t allow their children out at night due to the occasional presence of mountain lions. Who exactly are these people, and how many are there?
It sounds like he is using a rhetorical device exploiting the emotion associated with a hypothetical danger to children, which is unlikely to exist in reality.
For example, in 2011 there were two deaths from hunting accidents in Nebraska, and zero deaths or injuries from mountain lion attacks.
Actually, two children died in Nebraska in a vehicle accident when deer ran across a road and the driver tried to avoid them, but lost control.
Deer populations are reduced by mountain lions, and so they actually do a great service to the human population. People are much more likely to get injured or killed where there are many deer, because of accidents caused by hitting them or trying to avoid collisions.
Nebraska has one of the highest deer collision rates in the country.
The Mountain Lion Foundation says there is no legitimate reason to hunt mountain lions. Further, these hunts are based on the fiction that mountain lions are a danger to humans which is almost never the case. In fact, mountain lions are apex predators that provide benefits to ecosystems such as reducing the number of deer and similar smaller species, “Wildlife biologists know mountain lions are vital and invaluable. It is a keystone species playing an irreplaceable and complex role on the landscape. Lions exist in low densities and are self-regulating which means they control their own population size in balance with the ecosystem without the need for human intervention. Top carnivores help maintain the plants and animals within their range. Mountain lions keep deer herds on the move so that they do not overgraze in any particular area. This behavioral change results in less erosion along riverbanks and increases habitat for other species like songbirds. Ecosystems with lions are healthier, more sustainable, and contain a richer balance of nature.”