Thank goodness there will not be a Nebraska cougar hunting season for 2015. The Nebraska Game and Parks researchers have started a multi-year research project to determine population estimates and to learn about the impact cougars have on prey species in particular big horn sheep and movement patterns etc.
Nebraska had its first cougar hunting season last year in which 5 cougars were killed despite the fact that they have an extremely small population of breeding cougars that could very easily be eliminated completely.
This latest decision cames as Sam Wilson of Lincoln, the commissionís carnivore program manager butted heads with Senator Ernie Chambers who threatened to try to remove commissionís ability to establish a cougar hunting season.
It seem crazy that Nebraska would have allowed a hunting season on such a small fragile population. Certainly if there was only such a small population of whitetail deer the season would be closed until the herd recovered. So why the cougar season last year?
It all boils down to money, greed and personal wants. Cougars are a predator and the truth is they aren't the best animal for hunting. Sex identification before killing is very difficult even for trained experts so it is a flip of the coin for the average hunter. Cougars also have population self regulation dynamics that don't lend themselves well to trophy hunting like deer or many other prey species.
Nebraska has a small bighorn sheep population and there were some of those (3) highly valued animals killed by the evil cougars. Well that is where personal wants and public wants are at least percieved public wants comes into play. Cougars are something most states do not want. For many decades now states that formally were home to cougars have had the easy road of managing high value vegetarian prey species without competition from cougars. And the arrival of cougars is rarely welcomed by these states game managers.
So to save the big horn sheep the cougars would gladly be sacrificed. That is what is going on in the Dakotas and last year in Nebraska. Now I am a hunter and but I do believe we as hunters should embrace hunting wildlife AS WILDLIFE and not cattle. I favor a management system that allows wildlife to be present if the habitat is there and the species is native. I have no problem with the hunting of wolves and the hunting of cougars. I DO have and think you too should have a distaste for the total elimination of predators from the equation just because of the demand for more and more deer and bighorn sheep.
And don't believe the lies, Nebraska's cougar season last year was not to "Manage" their cougars but to eliminate or severely reduce the headache that they are perceived to bring.
Wildlife biologists tracked the cougar responsible for the sheep deaths and pushed it out of the bighorn area. There have been no known bighorn deaths by the cougar or others since! So hunting the cougars to extinction in Nebraska isn't the only option for protecting Bighorn Sheep in Nebraska. Hopefully as the cougars increase to more than an estimated 25 individuals to a more robust population and the Bighorn Sheep increase as well that hunting of both species can proceed with "Honest Healthy Management" of the populations as the goal.