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Nebraskans would have a chance to hunt mountain lions with a legal permit under a new bill in the Legislature.
If passed, Senator Leroy Louden's bill would make it possible for you to hunt moutain lions. The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission would have the authority to put a permit process in place and then decide if and when it's necessary to have a season.
If you live in Lincoln or eastern Nebraska, you probably think seeing a mountain lion is rare. But people in northwest Nebraska know different.
Sen. LeRoy Louden from Ellsworth says, "We've had them run through the yard, it isn't like something that very few people see."
The Game and Parks Commision knows the population is growing.
They estimate 20 mountain lions are in the Pine Ridge area of Nebraska.
Sam Wilson is the Furbearing and Carnivore Manager for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. He tells 10/11, "Nebraska is bordered by three states with large lion populations in South Dakota, Wyoming and Colorado, and lions just walk across the border."
The Game and Parks Commission approached Senator LeRoy Louden about sponsoring a bill which would control the mountain lion population.
Wilson says, "It's not necessarily legislation that will begin a mountain lion season, it will just allow Game and Parks to begin a mountain lion season as soon as our data shows that we should have one in order to manage the species."
Sen. Louden adds, "The way the legislation is written, they're a game animal and there's nothing you can do about it, and as they're becoming more plentiful you probably need a way to have some more control over them."
Currently you can only kill a mountain lion if it's threatening you or you livestock. Under the Louden's bill LB928 a person would pay $25 to enter a lottery drawing for a chance to get a permit.
Wilson says, " Any number of people can apply, but only a small number would be chosen for a permit, depending on what the population can support for harvest."
Senator Louden expects the bill to go to the Natural Resources Committee, there senators will debate it and have a public hearing. At that time, people will have a chance to weigh in on the bill.
Sam Wilson says since Sen. Louden introduced the bill Tuesday, the Game and Parks Commission has received many comments from people on both sides of the issue. He says people are concerned about the bill and want to know how it's going to affect them.
The bill was introduced partly in response to increased mountain
lion sightings in Nebraska, including a possible encounter with one
in the eastern Nebraska town of Seward.
Kearney police shot an adolescent male mountain lion in May that
weighed 118 pounds.