VETO OF MOUNTAIN LION HUNTING BAN SURVIVES OVERRIDE TRY

Posted 9 months ago

By John Axtell

Sen Ernie Chambers

Sen Ernie Chambers

Omaha Senator Ernie Chambers failed this morning in his attempt to override Governor Dave Heineman’s veto of a bill abolishing Nebraska’s mountain lion hunting season.

Chambers needed 30 votes for the override, but got only 24. He then changed his vote to “present not voting” and later filed a motion to reconsider the move…essentially to vote again before the session ends in 6 days. He did not say if he planned to carry through with the motion.

The state approved mountain lion hunting in 2012, while Chambers was out of office because of term limits. The first lion season, split into a pair of 6-week sessions, saw hunter kill 3 cougars…two male and 1 female…one lion fewer than the maximum allowed.

Mountain lion mapGovernor Heineman, in his veto message, said the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission has and should keep the ability to determine management actions…including hunting seasons…it feels are necessary to protect the health and safety of both people and wildlife.

Chambers argued again during the override debate that cougars pose no real threat to humans – and if they did, state law already allows people to kill them to defend themselves or their property.

He called mountain lions “regal” and accused Game and Parks of wanting a hunting season to be able to auction permits and make money. Chambers also slammed hunters, saying they want to kill for the love of killing and so they can have a trophy.

Mountain lions were native to Nebraska, but were killed off or died out by the turn of the 20th century as settlers spread across the state.

The first confirmed sighting after that was was in 1991, but Game and Parks says a permanent population, currently estimated at about 20, has been established in the Pine Ridge area by big cats that have wandered in from the Black Hills.