This is the second consecutive year that Nebraska has opened season on its lions.
Last week, a trophy hunter killed a mountain lion in Nebraska and posted a photo of himself on social media with the dead animal, a one-and-a-half-year-old male. While most Americans would find this unnecessary killing of a majestic native carnivore horrifying by itself, the facts behind this killing are even more outrageous. There are just an estimated 40 adult and teenage mountain lions now living in Nebraska, and rather than protect them, the state is playing into the hands of trophy hunters by letting them go after these beautiful animals.
This is the second consecutive year that Nebraska has opened season on its lions. One would think the state would value them more, because they were completely wiped out in Nebraska by the early 1900s due to intense predator culling. Before that, mountain lions roamed throughout Nebraska. It was only in 2007 that the Game and Parks department documented the return of mountain lions in the northwestern region of the state known as the Pine Ridge, with evidence of a reproducing population.
The numbers have grown slowly since, but with just 40 adult and sub-adult (a stage between dependent kitten and adult) lions, this is a fragile population and they must be protected. The state’s annual quota allows trophy hunters to kill a staggering 20 percent of the Pine Ridge population, far more than what experts believe is sustainable. The loss of just one mountain lion can have tragic consequences for such a small population, because of the disruption it causes to their sensitive social communities.