LINCOLN, Neb. – The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission approved a mountain lion hunting season for 2019 at its meeting June 22 in Ogallala.
The season will provide a harvest opportunity for up to eight mountain lions in two sub-units within the Pine Ridge of northwestern Nebraska. The season will allow the population to remain resilient and healthy, while halting growth or moderately reducing the population size. This will initiate a reduction of the population density in the Pine Ridge to one similar to that of other states that allow mountain lion hunting.
The approved 2019 mountain lion season regulations are:
— A harvest season will be held only for the Pine Ridge area, which has an established population that can sustain a harvest.
— The proposed season will allow up to eight mountain lions to be harvested, with up to four of those being females.
— There are two sub-units in the Pine Ridge: a north sub-unit (north of U.S. Hwy. 20) and a south sub-unit (south of U.S. Hwy. 20). Sub-units are designed to distribute harvest throughout the Pine Ridge. Up to four mountain lions, and no more than two females, may be harvested in each sub-unit. Public lands are closed in the north sub-unit to focus harvest onto private land in Sioux and Sheridan counties, where the majority of landowner input has occurred. The south sub-unit includes public lands for expanded hunting opportunities.
— Once four mountain lions, or two females, have been harvested in a sub-unit, the season in that sub-unit will close.
— 320 permits will be issued in each sub-unit, for a total of 640 total permits. Permits will be allocated by drawing.
— An initial season will run from Jan. 1 through Feb. 28, 2019. The use of dogs will not be permitted during the initial season.
— If the limits and/or sub-limits have not been reached in a sub-unit by Feb. 28, then a limited number (equal to the animals remaining in the limit) of permittees will be allowed to hunt with the aid of dogs in an auxiliary season. Permits for the auxiliary season will be granted to unsuccessful permittees from the initial season via a lottery. If the auxiliary season occurs, it will take place from March 15-31.
— Baiting and trapping will not be allowed during any season.
For more information on mountain lions in Nebraska, go to outdoornebraska.gov/mountainlions.
In other business, the Commission:
— banned the importation and possession of mouflon and aoudad, or any of their hybrids or subspecies, in Banner, Box Butte, Cheyenne, Dawes, Kimball, Morrill, Scotts Bluff, Sheridan and Sioux counties after June 22, 2018. This includes a provision for grandfathering possession, as well as a protocol for escaped animals. Mouflon is a sheep species from southwestern Asia. Aoudad is a goat-like mammal native to North Africa. Mouflon and aoudad are an ecological threat to Nebraska’s wild bighorn sheep. They also can carry disease that can impact wild and domestic sheep and they can hybridize with wild sheep.
— established fees for select future Venture Park activities at Louisville State Recreation Area and Platte River State Park, including a floating playground, paddle sport equipment rental and water cycle rental.
The Commission also held a public hearing for input regarding the listing and delisting of state threatened and endangered species in the Commission’s District 7 in western Nebraska.
In addition, staff updated the Commission on the recreational resources in the Lake McConaughy region and environmental issues.