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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, November 1, 2014

Mountain lions are native to Nebraska but disappeared more than a century ago.............. The first modern confirmation of their return was in 1991............Cougars recolonized the Pine Ridge region during the middle of the last decade, with there being recent evidence of breeding populations in the Niobrara valley and Wildcat Hills..............Wildlife biologists have confirmed more than 100 sightings of mountain lions outside of the Pine Ridge since 1991...............A tip of the hat to state Senator Ernie Chambers for having the resolve to once again push for a ban on all Cougar hunting and trapping in this state despite Nebraska Gov. Heineman vetoing this exact bill passed by the Legislature last year.........Chamber's resolve to protect Cougars is what all of us interested in retaining America's "wild and free" legacy must exhibit from here on out before a synergy of human population growth and its resulting damage to land, water and air overwhelm our last remaining carnivores ability to make a living on American soil

Sen. Ernie Chambers vows anew to halt Nebraska's mountain lion hunting

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Sen. Ernie Chambers
Posted: Friday, October 24, 2014 8:16 am | Updated: 8:19 am, Fri Oct 24, 2014.

SCOTTSBLUFF — The Lion of the Legislature says he won’t be sidetracked in his pursuit to end mountain lion hunting in Nebraska, even if there is no season next year.
“My intent is — and will be as long as I’m in the Legislature — is to do away with the authority given to Game and Parks to establish a hunting season on mountain lions,” said State Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha.

Chambers reacted Thursday after the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission heard updated information about cougars in the state. Commissioners say it’s too early to say whether there will be a season next year because more time is needed to analyze the impact on the population of this year’s hunts and other unrelated cougar deaths.
The Scottsbluff meeting was the board’s last regularly scheduled session of the year, and commissioners took no action on setting a hunting season for 2015. The commission would have to vote to set a season.
In an interview from his Lincoln office, Chambers said his crusade to save cougars will not interfere with his other legislative priorities, including his periodic push to abolish the death penalty. He plans to introduce a bill to halt executions in January.
“I’m a multi-tasker,” he said. “This is a new beginning.”
Mountain lions emerged as a controversial issue in Nebraska and the Legislature during the state’s first experience with cougar hunting this year.
Early in the hunting season this year, Chambers won legislative approval of a bill to take away Game and Parks’ authority to establish mountain lion seasons, only to have it fail when he couldn’t muster enough votes to overcome a veto by Gov. Dave Heineman.
Hunters have killed four mountain lions — three in the Pine Ridge of northwest Nebraska and one in the northeast — so far during the inaugural season. There have been 11 known mountain lion deaths from all causes in the Pine Ridge alone in the past 365 days.
Several others have been killed across the state on roads, in traps or by other causes.
Tim McCoy, the commission’s deputy director, said a staff recommendation on whether to schedule a future cougar season won’t be considered until after more analysis is done of mountain lion research conducted this summer in western Nebraska. Wildlife biologists and others need more time to discuss the findings and other issues, he said.
Scientific studies indicate an estimated population of 22 mountain lions residing in the Pine Ridge, said Sam Wilson, the commission’s carnivore program manager.
The estimate was based on DNA samples that specifically identified seven female and four male cougars in the Pine Ridge, he said.
Since completion of the study, however, there have been three adult female deaths in the Pine Ridge, he said.
“This reduces the resiliency of the population to withstand additional mortalities,’’ Wilson said.
The commission’s goal in establishing the Pine Ridge cougar season this year was to provide hunting opportunities while allowing a slight to moderate reduction in the population.
Wilson told commissioners that Nebraska’s cougars are at the eastern tip of the genetically and geographically linked populations of mountain lions in the American West.
Nebraska’s cats are widely distributed in the Pine Ridge. Surveys this summer also detected three cougars in the Niobrara River valley near Valentine and three in the Wildcat Hills in the central Panhandle. Population estimates for those regions cannot be made, Wilson said.
Commission Director Jim Douglas said staff biologists are in the beginning stages of working more closely with game agencies in neighboring South Dakota and Wyoming to develop a more geographically comprehensive mountain lion management plan. Both of those states hold mountain lion hunting seasons.
“The fact is that we are on the edge of a larger range of mountain lions,” Douglas said. “We’re gathering more information.”
Chambers said the commission’s research shows the cougar population in Nebraska is too small to warrant a hunting season.
Chambers said a multi-state management plan would have no impact on mountain lion migration into Nebraska.
“I don’t want Nebraska to be the state that exterminates mountain lions,” he said.
Mountain lions are native to Nebraska but disappeared more than a century ago. The first modern confirmation of their return was in 1991. Cougars recolonized the Pine Ridge during the middle of the last decade, and there is recent evidence of breeding populations in the Niobrara valley and Wildcat Hills.Wildlife biologists have confirmed more than 100 sightings of mountain lions outside of the Pine Ridge since 1991.
Cougar hunting is currently closed in the Pine Ridge. The season remains open in much of the rest of the state through Dec. 31 for Nebraska residents who obtain permits.

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