Mountain lions are now a favorite topic in statehouses

Mountain lions, wolves and other flesh-hungry critters have become a favorite topic in statehouses around the nation.

That’s because emotional and uninformed opponents to scientific and fact-based wildlife management are becoming better funded and more vocal in their determination to thwart proven conservation practices and controlled hunting as management tools.

Recent case

One recent case, or battle, was the attack by do-gooders to eliminate any intelligent and planned wildlife management by Nebraska state wildlife officials dealing with the increasing number of mountain lions in the state.

In 2012, with the support of law makers, state Gov. Heineman signed into law a bill to add Nebraska’s mountain lion to the state’s list of game animals.

In 2013, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission announced a careful and well thought plan to manage cougars by maintaining or slightly reducing the number of lions.

Of course, that meant limited hunting and that is all it took to bring out the anti-hunting crowd, who for the most part believe with all their hearts that meat originates in grocery stores.

And soon after, Nebraska law makers brought forth a new bill to yank the management plan by wildlife officials and further to remove the predators from Game and Parks authority. This short-sighted bill was sponsored by Sen. Ernie Chambers who also vowed to continue his efforts to make sure Nebraska hunters and Nebraska wildlife officials have nothing to do with mountain lion management.

Spoke his mind

One has to hand it to the senator for speaking his mind about a subject he may not have ever heard of before. But listen they did, and indeed a bill was passed by Nebraska legislators to do as Chambers insisted on March 24, 2014.

All that was needed was a signature by the governor who had already stated that he would veto such bill.

Vetoed

Gov. Heineman, showing a concern for both the animal and his constituents, vetoed the bill as he had promised claiming that, “Nebraskans expect responsible wildlife management. LP 671 eliminates an important tool used to accomplish it. The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission should retain the ability to determine those management actions which are necessary to protect both the health and safety of our citizens and the wildlife in our state. Removing the agency’s authority to manage mountain lions through hunting is poor public policy.”

A rally by legislators to override the veto failed.

Prime example

Why write about Nebraska? Because this case is a prime example of the ongoing attack on outdoor pursuits such as hunting, fishing, trapping and more.

Make no mistake, the Nebraska story may seem to be about mountain lions but it smells more of an anti-hunting agenda. Mountain lions prey on the inattentive and so do anti-hunting groups.

Nebraska’s governor deserves a thank you from every outdoorsman and conservationist for looking at the big picture instead of his popularity rating and campaign fund balance.

That takes guts in today’s political culture.

About the Author

Mike Tontimonia has been writing weekly columns and magazine features about the outdoors for over 25 years, a career that continues to hold the same excitement for him as it did at the beginning. Mike is a retired educator, a licensed auctioneer, and marketing consultant. He lives in Ravenna, Ohio and enjoys spending time at his Carroll County cabin. Mike has hunted and fished in several states and Canada from the Carolinas to Alaska and from Idaho to Delaware. His readers have often commented that the stories about his adventures are about as close to being there as possible. He is past president of the Outdoor Writers of Ohio and a member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America. Mike is also very involved in his community as a school board member and a Rotarian. More Stories by Mike Tontimonia

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