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Grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, coyotes, cougars/ mountain lions,bobcats, wolverines, lynx, foxes, fishers and martens are the suite of carnivores that originally inhabited North America after the Pleistocene extinctions. This site invites research, commentary, point/counterpoint on that suite of native animals (predator and prey) that inhabited The Americas circa 1500-at the initial point of European exploration and subsequent colonization. Landscape ecology, journal accounts of explorers and frontiersmen, genetic evaluations of museum animals, peer reviewed 20th and 21st century research on various aspects of our "Wild America" as well as subjective commentary from expert and layman alike. All of the above being revealed and discussed with the underlying goal of one day seeing our Continent rewilded.....Where big enough swaths of open space exist with connective corridors to other large forest, meadow, mountain, valley, prairie, desert and chaparral wildlands.....Thereby enabling all of our historic fauna, including man, to live in a sustainable and healthy environment. - Blogger Rick

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Saturday, March 22, 2014

We are hoping that the Nebraska fillibuster will be broken and that Ernie Chambers bill to ban Puma hunting on the 10 to 22 animals that exist in the state will pass--------Regardless of what happens in the statehouse, Nebraska biologists will continue to study the "CATS" to determine that their population does not "inundate" their state.................So afraid this Game Commission is of Pumas that they are on record stating that 96% of Nebraska is unsuitable for their colonization................My bet is that if we let the Pine Ridge population alone and did not persecute it,,,,,,,,,you would eventually have Pumas along every riverine habitat in the CORNHUSKER state that had a resident deer population

Cougar hunting may end in Nebraska, but state will continue to monitor population

NORFOLK, Neb. – Whether or not hunters get another shot at Nebraska mountain lions, wildlife biologists will continue to study the big cats during the next two years.

The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission plans to again use a specially trained dog to detect mountain lion scat in the Pine Ridge and the Niobrara River valley near Valentine this spring. The search will expand to the Panhandle's Wildcat Hills in 2015.

Sam Wilson, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission's carnivore program manager, outlined the next round of research for commissioners during their meeting Friday in Norfolk.

Genetic analysis of the scat – plus hair, urine and blood – provides information biologists use to estimate the number of cougars in the state. 

Similar scat surveys in 2010 and 2012 provided wildlife biologists with information that indicated the Pine Ridge in northwest Nebraska hosted a maximum likely population of 22 mountain lions two years ago. The estimate ranged from 16 to 37 lions.

The estimated $36,000 cost of the scat searches and analysis would be paid for with commission funds generated by the sale of mountain lion hunting permits.

Commissioner Norris Marshall of Kearney said although the Pine Ridge is at the southern edge of a larger cougar population in South Dakota's Black Hills, it's unlikely for the Pine Ridge population to grow too much larger because suitable habitat is limited.

Jim Douglas, the commission director, said the state's mountain lion population has potential to grow into the suitable habitat in north-central Nebraska's Niobrara valley and the Wildcat Hills.

About 96 percent of the state is considered unsuitable habitat for lions.

Mountain lions recently recolonized the Pine Ridge and may be recolonizing the Niobrara valley and Wildcat Hills, biologists say. The number of instances of confirmed cougar sightings across Nebraska has increased each year since 2003. Kittens have been documented annually in the Pine Ridge since 2007.

In addition to genetic information, biologists have recorded cougars on wildlife cameras.

Last year, commissioners used the genetic research results to approve the state's first mountain lion hunting seasons. Two six-week seasons were set in the Pine Ridge, plus a yearlong season across most of the rest of the state. 

Hunters killed two male lions in January during the first Pine Ridge season. A female was killed during the second half of the season, ending hunting in that region.

Several Nebraska cats have been killed in recent years by cars and trucks on roads and by people who encounter them and feel threatened. Others have been incidentally killed in traps set for other wildlife.

The commission's goal in setting a hunting season for mountain lions was to keep the population steady or slightly reduced.

Thursday in the state Legislature, Sen. Ernie Chambers' bill to abolish the cougar hunt was on track for final approval, but a rare late filibuster prevented it from coming to a vote. The Omaha senator said he will now have to see if he can marshal 33 votes to cut off a filibuster and pass his priority bill.

Speaker of the Legislature Greg Adams said the legislation will return to the agenda before the session ends April 17.
Contact the writer: David Hendee    |   402-444-1127
David covers a variety of news across Nebraska, particularly natural resources and rural issues and the State Game an

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