Next year, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission is cutting the total mountain lion quota in half compared to the 2020 objective. Under recommendation from Game and Parks staff, after information suggested lower population estimates. The total mountain lion harvest total in 2021 will be four. This news comes off of a total harvest quota in 2020 of eight mountain lions. New population estimates suggest that there are 34 lions in the Pine Ridge area. A similar survey in 2017 estimated a total of 59 lions.
“The objective of the season is to provide a harvest opportunity for mountain lions that allows the population to remain resilient and healthy while halting growth or moderately reducing the population.” – Nebraska Game and Parks
In addition to harvest reductions, the Game and Parks Commission is also reducing the number of permits to half that of 2020. To a total of 320 mountain lion permits in 2021. These permits will be allotted to Nebraska residents by a lottery draw system.
The new harvest initiatives also establish a ‘sub limit’ quota of two female lions. If two female lions are harvested before the goal of four lions total is reached, the season will close. If neither limit is reached before the end of February, an additional season in March will be initiated. Successful permit holders from the first season can then apply to have a new permit valid for the second season. During this second season, hunting with hounds will be allowed.
Mountain Lion’s In Nebraska
Mountain lion populations in Nebraska are concentrated primarily in the northwest corner of the state in the Pine Ridge area in Dawes County. Overharvesting at the end of the 18th century led to the species being protected. After being absent for nearly a century, the first re-sighting of a mountain lion was recorded in Nebraska in 1991. Occasional observations were made over the next 15 years. These observations were primarily young male mountain lions traveling in and out of the state from boarding states. These young males often cover vast stretches of territory in search of females.
then in 2005, a resident year-round population in NW Nebraska was studied in the Pine Ridge area. A year later the first documented resident female was recorded. In 2007, the first documented female with kittens was reported. From 2008 to 2011, the state-recognized 35 documented mountain lion confirmations in Dawes county alone. This consistent mountain lion activity eventually led to the development of the state’s mountain lion response plan. This committee establishes the harvest quotas. They also detail what the commission will do concerning mountain lions in specifics situations. Like when mountain lions wander into residential areas.
While mountain lion populations fluctuate every year, the Nebraska Game and Parks commission appears committed to managing these elusive predators through effective and strategic conversation efforts. What are your thoughts on the mountain lion quota being reduced? Let us know in the comments.