Animal attacks are not recorded as defensive gun uses in most surveys. They’re never recorded as justifiable homicides. Still, 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, the latest incident being a case in point. 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 isn’t 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’s another from 2013, in 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 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. 

(snip)

 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 starherald.com:

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 realtree.com:

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 outdoornebraska.ne.gov:

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’s 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.
Gun Watch

47 Responses to Lions and Guns in Nebraska

  1. “The mountain lion weighed approximately 30 pounds . . . .”
    .
    A 30 pound mountain lion? Or a 30 pound bobcat?
    .
    A 30 pound mountain lion is an unweaned kitten.
    .

    • A number of points on Nebraska lions:

      Yes, they were both 30-pounders, and they were lions, not bobcats. It’s been suggested the chicken-coop kitten was an orphaned cub of a female taken during the hunting season. It’s possible the more recent Chadron incident involved a cub that may have been orphaned when a female was caught in a coyote snare by a USDA “wildlife services” trapper making the West safe for sheep (http://journalstar.com/news/local/game-and-parks-mountain-lion-unintentionally-killed/article_89c0a09d-3575-5657-8141-f0b5c9f579bf.html).

      The only documented, resident breeding population in Nebraska is in the Pine Ridge area, in the state’s extreme northwest. Females are known to be present in the Wildcat Hills, south of Scottsbluff, and along the Niobrara River in north-central Nebraska, but breeding has not been documented. Since 1991 more than 100 occurrences have been documented (with conclusive physical evidence) outside of the Pine Ridge, Wildcat Hills, and central Niobrara in most parts of the state, but these have all been young males, probably dispersing (http://outdoornebraska.ne.gov/wildlife/wildlife_species_guide/mountainlion.asp).

      I lived for several years, alone, in an extremely remote stretch of the central Niobrara. I documented one occurrence (tracks), in my yard, and documented several others near the house to my satisfaction (tracks, scat, a beaver kill, etc., and yes, I’m competent to do so.). I was employed and living on a 60,000-acre private nature preserve at the time. I walked all over the place, unarmed, and never gave it much thought, although it was common to find tracks and scat (one scat I found consisted entirely of porcupine quills).

      To date, there have been no actual attacks on humans, and only one documented livestock attack, a few months ago (http://journalstar.com/news/state-and-regional/nebraska/mountain-lion-kills-calf/article_6b858d82-9e11-5040-b35d-64f258dd5eb2.html). There is an abundance of prey available, deer, turkeys, porcupines (one of their favorites), coons, beaver, etc.

      The so-called Plains hunting unit, which covers most of the state, is basically the area without documented or suspected resident populations. It’s likely no cats will be taken in the Plains unit during 2014; a permit holder actually running across one would be a one-in-a-million fluke (http://outdoornebraska.gov/hunting/guides/MountainLion/).

      I would not be surprised if the state reins back on future hunts, given the large number of non-hunting mortalities, including females, as documented in one of the posts below.

      Finally, much of the opposition to the lions season, including that of Sen. Ernie Chambers, stems from the fact that the cats were hunted with dogs, treed and shot. This is of course standard procedure, but it apparently came as news to the opponents.

      John Ortmann, Ph.D.
      Rangeland Ecologist
      Ord, Neb.

      • More of a question than a comment. The question is: Will a mountain lion eat eat a deer if it has been shot by a hunting rifle????? In other words, hypothetically speaking, a hunte shoots a deer, the deer jumps and runs off, the hunter follows the blood trail but losses sight of it. A mountain lion picks up the scent and blood trail and follows it. The mountain lion finds the deer dead on the ground. Will the mountain lion eat the dead carass even though it’s been shot????????

        • Didn’t see your question at the time, don’t know if you’ll see it now, but here goes anyway. Mountain lions are not as apt to scavenge carcasses as are other big cats. However, under the conditions you describe, following up a wounded deer, yes, that could probably happen.

    • So… Would you trust said 30lb moutain lion around your preadolecent kids? They’re so small, after all. Housecats and such… Yeah. Let’s just stop with the 30lb thing, can we?

  2. Ummm…30pounds? Is that a misprint? That’s not even a big dog. Anywhoo I had no idea there was a cougar problem in Nebraska. Heck a good size mountain lion was killed in Chicago a few years ago. No one knows how it got there( Wisconsin was theorized). Keep clinging…

    • If you were a cougar that wanted to eat dem lil childs where you gonna go? A city without a soul (and without any guns) or stay in Wisconsin)?

      • That’s a good point, the cougars get tired of being shot in Wisconsin, wise up, and realize they can freely hunt people in IL without the fear of being shot, and even be given protective rights to eat people.

    • a good size mountain lion was killed in Chicago a few years ago. No one knows how it got there

      It got there as a result of others states having lax mountain lion laws. We need a national solution to mountain lion crime.

  3. I read a quip somewhere attributed to a hunter. His assertion was that you can hunt your whole life and never see a mountain lion, but be assured, THEY have seen YOU.

    If that’s the case, than these incursions are compeletly uncharacterstic and completely scarey.

    • You are quite right sir, big cats are terrifying creatures. If humans disappeared overnight the big cats would become the top land predators on earth. They’re quick, strong, and most of all they’re smart. They’ll stalk, tease, test, and ambush animals as well as people. In India tigers often hide in tall grass along trails through the jungle to ambush people.

    • Predator hunting has fallen out of favor over the last 20 years or so.

      Numbers are up; coyotes, mountain lions; some states are considering limited seasons for grizzlies for the first time in decades.

  4. California not only bans hunting big cats (except by a predation permit) (which isn’t really an issue because we have so few), but the president of the civilian board that works with Fish & Game on wildlife management lost his job because he shot a cat in Idaho (where it was not only legal, but the owner said that if this guy hadn’t shot it, he would have). The anti-hunting groups are strong here. Hence the statewide lead ammo ban (that is actually being slowly phased in over a period of years). I wonder when they will try to ban coyote hunting; it has been successful in banning an annual coyote hunting festival/competition in a small rural county, because it is, I guess, inhumane to hunt coyotes for “sport.”

    • And then when the animals get out of control, like all those wild boars just did, they dig and chew on the dam until it breaks and everyone loses water, they still wont lessen restrictions. I guess the boars are just misguided youths or something….

      • They will demand that the government “do something” and in the process cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars while producing little or no results.

        • Yup. See the Government deer hunts in MOCO and in the tonier parts of Long Island. Cost a bloody fortune to “humanely kill Bambi.” While non-gov hunters (even Fudds) would have paid serious money to do the same job.

  5. When they first started showing up in Omaha all government agencies tries to pretend they there for a very long time. One was living in the park in downtown Omaha, but the police assured everyone that it was just a large house cat.

    • The same thing happened in Wisconsin. People repeatedly saw mountain lions and mountain lion tracks, and reported it. The “authorities” denied, denied, denied. A cat got hit by a car,and they claimed it was somebodies “pet” that escaped.

      Finally some hound hunters treed one and got video of it the *second time” and the authorities at the Department of Natural Resources admitted that there might be a small population of the cats in Wisconsin.

  6. Hey there’s plenty of guns in Chicago. The cougar in question was slaughtered by the POlice. And there was quite a public/ wacko outcry. “Why didn’t you tranquilize it and set it free blah blah blah…so if it killed a kid or God forbid a pet pooch that would have been acceptable? Remember the crazies who donated more for motherless cougar cubs than gave a damn about humans?

    • http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/albany/2014/05/8546137/legislators-call-dec-spare-albany-bear

      Here in the Albany, NY area we had a bear wandering around which had been tagged twice. The DEC tried to kill it but screwed it up, and it ended up treed in a residential area. All of a sudden state legislators (one from a nearby city, and one from NYC, which is nowhere near Albany) started up with the “Save the bear” BS. They should have tranqed it and released it in the Bronx, then they could see if they would like a wild animal that’s not afraid of people wandering around their neighborhood.

      • They wouldn’t notice a bear loose in the Bronx. They would think it was just one of the kids from Columbia.

  7. A 30 pound lion? I’m guessing it was either a cub or on death’s door to be that emaciated. That’s lower than the average weight for a healthy bobcat or coyote around these parts.

    Large predators that are sick and desperate are easily the most dangerous and least likely to run from a potential food source. Reminds me of that other article from a year or so back, where a man cutting logs in his backyard with a chainsaw faced off a starved lion which didn’t back off until it was right on top of him with the chainsaw digging into its flesh.

  8. Righteous shoot.

    We have had mountain lions spotted here in Missouri in relatively well populate suburban communities.

    No wonder since the idiots who run local government won’t let anyone shoot the “urban deer” population that breed like rats around here.

    • I’m reminded of a Gary Larson (“The Far Side”) quip: “Humans, without fang or claw – or even fur – are like nature’s SPAM.”

      I’m also reminded of Timothy Leary’s assertion that we have reached the pinnacle of morphological evolution upon Planet Earth. That is: We have developed tool use, and have no more need for physical development.

  9. Over the last month there has been a glut of mountain lions being spotted in the portland metro area.
    (By the way, cougar meat is very tasty. )

  10. The first time I read this I thought it was interesting and moved on to the next story. After turning off the computer, however, I decided to see what was on TV. It was a show on discovery called “man eating zombie cats”. apparently K9 distemper is effecting big cats now and making them unafraid of man causing more confrontations.

    In CONOP 8888 the pentagon planned for vegetarian zombies, evil magic zombies, and chicken zombies but did they plan for cat zombies?

    I suppose I’ll have to paint my .270 lime green now…

  11. My uncle was attacked by a panther while hunting turkey this year. He only got a few scratches to his head and didn’t let it interrupt his hunt and still got some birds.

  12. There’s not so much of an anti-hunting lobby in Nebraska as there is just plain ole Ernie Chambers. It’s hard to explain how much of a nutbag this guy is here. A quick google search and you’ll see how this politician from the ghetto works. I’ve had to see him speak at a convention and he is downright offensive to whites and bears no bones about it.

  13. I grew up in Chadron. The area south of town is a lot like the Black Hills. Nice woods and hilly countryside. Lots of deer and antelope in the area. Prime hunting ground for cougars.

  14. Shoot, shovel and shut up!

    Cousin in Northeast Nebraska had one in his barn, surrounded by neighbor’s dogs a few years back.

    • +1 That is the preferred backcountry solution to wolf predation on livestock, dogs, and people here in Idaho: “3S”.

  15. I live in northeast PA and have seen black bears wandering down the street in town, probably checking out garbage cans. I have seen bears, wolves coyotes all within a mile of my house. Plus I have a dimwitted neighbor with a pet tiger a couple of miles down the road. He used to have a pet bear until it ate his wife one morning.

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