Thursday, July 24, 2014

Lions and Guns in Nebraska

Animal attacks may not be recorded as defensive gun uses in most surveys, and they are never recorded as justifiable homicides.   But defensive uses of guns against animals occur frequently.   I was surprised to learn of the number of mountain lions that have been shot in defensive situations in Nebraska.   Here is the latest incident.

A man in near Chadron, Nebraska shot a mountain lion that was menacing young children near his residence.  He grabbed a rifle and approached the animal, which refused to flee.   From a Nebraska Game and Parks press release:

A man reported noticing the animal crouched in the grass about 20 yards from his residence, where two young children were present on a patio. The man retrieved a rifle from the house and approached the animal, then shot it when it stood but did not flee. The mountain lion weighed approximately 30 pounds.

Authorities determined the man acted within the law in killing the animal.
This is not the first time a mountain lion has been shot in Nebraska after menacing humans.  This story from 2013:
The resident reported the incident to Game and Parks. The resident spotted the lion while walking along a creek near his home. He estimated that the lion was about 20 yards from him. He continued walking and the lion walked parallel to him at the same pace. The resident was making noise to scare the lion off, but the lion showed no fear of him. The resident then shot the cat with a 9mm handgun. The resident was approximately 150 yards from his home.
The early-evening incident took place approximately 10 miles south of Chadron. The lion weighed approximately 160 pounds.
Here is another from 2013, Pine Ridge, but Sheridan County:
The owner’s children had noticed a partially eaten white-tailed deer lying in the grass near some outbuildings on the property. A short time later, the owner saw from his house a mountain lion on the deer kill. Attempts by the family to scare the cat away resulted in the mountain lion advancing about 50 yards toward the house. The landowner then shot the cat with a rifle from about 100 yards after attempting to contact officials.
  This story from 2012:
According to the hunter, the cat walked parallel to him at about 35 yards as he left his hunting blind, made eye contact with him, then circled in front of the hunter’s path. A subsequent investigation concluded the hunter was justified in killing the 150-pound animal.
This story is from 2010:
Game and Parks says the boy, hunting a shelterbelt in Knox County, spotted the mountain lion 10 feet away before shooting and killing it. 


 Mountain lions are protected year-round in Nebraska but may be killed if threatening people or attacking livestock. No charges will be filed, as evidence indicated self-defense.
Another from 2010, shot by Nebraska game officials after it was spotted in a front yard:
 The children spotted the cougar on a branch and immediately ran back into the house to inform their father, who then called game officials.

The mountain lion was shot after it was determined, in accordance with Game and Parks protocol, to be a threat to humans, according to the news release
 This story is from  2008, also occurred near Chadron:

 The mountain lion was reported to have shown no fear of the boy and officials said they believe the boy shot the lion in self-defense..
Here is another story about a mountain lion that refused to flee when approached by a human in 2014.   From the Washington Times:

The commission said in a news release Monday that the 30-pound female was shot Friday after it approached the landowner’s chicken coop. The landowner says the mountain lion didn’t flee even when the landowner walked within 15 yards of it.
Young mountain lions are driven from their home ranges by adults and are forced to find new territories and food supplies or die.

Nebraska considered a mountain lion season in 2013. From
The Nebraska Game and Parks commission is expected to consider regulations governing a cougar season during its meeting in Chadron on May 24. A bill approved by the Nebraska Legislature last year permits for a mountain lion hunting season once Game and Parks approves it.
The first hunt occurred in March of this year. Three mountain lions were harvested. A bill to end mountain lion hunting was simultaneously passed by the state Senate. Nebraska is unique among the states. It is the only one with a unicameral legislature, created by referendum during the new deal.
The bill to end the hunt was passed this week by the Nebraska State Senate.
The hunt was felt necessary, in part, because of the threat of the big cats:
Stacy Swinney, a Dawes County Commissioner, told senators she opposed the bill because Nebraska has a “serious mountain lion problem.”

“We now have a growing, reproducing number of one of nature’s most fearless, dangerous predators, and they walk through our homesteads at will day or night,” she said.
 Governor Heineman vetoed the bill that would have ended mountain lion hunting in Nebraska.   From

Sen. Ernie Chambers, who is opposed to hunting, led the effort to overturn the hunting bill and succeeded with a vote of 28 to 13 on Mon., March 24. The governor disagreed with the legislature’s action and vetoed the bill at the end of the week. “Removing the agency's authority to manage mountain lions through hunting at this time is poor public policy,” said Gov. Heineman. It will take 30 votes to overturn his veto. The governor also felt that the bill might be unconstitutional, since the state recently passed a bill that recognizes hunting, fishing and trapping as constitutional rights.
 A mountain lion season remains open this year, but only for residents.  The Prairie Unit covers most of the state.   From

2014 Permit Information

Only one mountain lion permit may be obtained in a given year. Successful applicants may not apply for a permit in another unit in the same year. The application fee for unsuccessful applicants will not be applied to other units.


Prairie UnitUnlimited permits (resident only)
It is likely that those who want to ban mountain lion hunting will try to ban it again.   It was only because of a governor who was willing to stand up to the anti-hunting lobby that the law did not go into effect.

I suspect that most Nebraskans will continue to cling to their guns.

 ©2014 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
Link to Gun Watch

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