Wildlife Species Guide
Mountain Lion Frequently Asked Questions
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Q: Is hunting mountain lions currently legal in Nebraska?
A: No, but mountain lions are a game animal and the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission proposes to manage them with a limited harvest as we do other game animals. When they meet July 26th in Lincoln, Game and Parks commissioners will review staff recommendations to allow a limited hunting season for mountain lions.
Q: Where can I read the proposed regulations for the July meeting of the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission?
A: After June 24th - Visit the Nebraska Secretary of State website and click on Rules and Regulations, then Proposed Rules and Regulations, then Mountain Lions.
Further proposed regulations regarding mountain lions can also be found under Administrative Regulations and General Regulation – Wildlife Species
Q: When and where will commissioners meet regarding a possible mountain lion hunting season?
A: July 26th at Lincoln, NE 2200 N. 33rd St.
Q: What action may the commissioners take at the meeting regarding mountain lion hunting?
A: The commissioners may: 1) approve staff recommendations for the season; or 2) reject the recommendations and provide guidance to staff for changes in response to public testimony.
Q: How can the public comment regarding the recommendation for mountain lion hunting?
A: The public may comment by:
1) appearing in person at the meeting July 26th meeting in Lincoln, NE
2) After June 24th- visiting the Nebraska Secretary of State website and click on Rules and Regulations, then Proposed Rules and Regulations, then Mountain Lions and click Post Comment. To comment on other proposed regulations changes regarding mountain lions click on the specific section of regulations, then View Proposed Regulation, then Post Comment.
Q: Is it legal to kill a mountain lion in self-defense?
A: Yes, it is legal to kill a mountain lion that threatens people or attacks or attempts to attack livestock.
Q: What is Nebraska’s mountain lion population?
A: Although mountain lions can occasionally be found anywhere in Nebraska, the only documented reproducing population is in the Pine Ridge. Research suggests that the Pine Ridge has habitat suitable to support as many as 27 mountain lions. Analyses of genetic samples collected during an intensive survey in 2012 suggested about 22 mountain lions were present in the Pine Ridge at that time. The presence of mountain lions OUTSIDE the Pine Ridge has been confirmed 92 times, but one animal can account for multiple confirmations.
Q: Are mountain lions native to Nebraska?
A: Yes, but they were extirpated by the 1890s.
Q: How did mountain lions return to Nebraska?
A: The first modern confirmation of a mountain lion in Nebraska was 1991. They migrated – and are still migrating – from Wyoming and South Dakota. The Nebraska population is not an isolated island population. It is connected to the greater mountain lion population that spans the Mountain West. Immigration provides genetic exchange and new individuals. There are mountain lion populations and seasons in Wyoming and South Dakota.
Q: Where do mountain lions live in Nebraska?
A: They live and are known to reproduce in the Pine Ridge, which has the state’s largest area of suitable habitat. Females have been documented near Scottsbluff and Wildcat Hills, as well as in the Niobrara River Valley east of Valentine, but no kittens have been documented in those areas. Mountain lions can and have appeared in all areas of the state. The first kitten was documented in the Pine Ridge in 2007; reproduction has been documented there every year since then.
Q: In what habitat am I most likely to find a mountain lion?
A: Mountain lions occur in a variety of habitats, but prefer rougher, wooded areas. Prey abundance, especially deer, is another essential component of mountain lion habitat.
Q: When are mountain lions most active?
A: Mountain lions are most active from dusk to dawn, but will also move during the day.
Q: Have mountain lions ever attacked humans in Nebraska?
A: There is no documentation of that happening. Mountain lion attacks have been rare in other states but do occur. It is legal to kill a mountain lion that threatens or attacks people.
Q: Have mountain lions ever attacked livestock in Nebraska?
A: We have yet to document a domestic animal that showed diagnostic evidence of a mountain lion attack. However, carcasses often deteriorate to a point where it is impossible to verify a cause of death. Mountain lions are known to occasionally kill or injure livestock in other states. It is legal to kill a mountain lion that attacks or attempts to attack livestock.
Q: What do mountain lions eat?
A: Deer are the choice prey but mountain lions will also prey on elk, bighorn sheep, small game, porcupines and a variety of other species.
Q: Has Game and Parks brought mountain lions into the state in an effort to control deer populations?
Q: What should I do if I encounter a mountain lion?
A: Do not approach it. Give the animal an escape route. Back away slowly, and do not turn your back or run. Raise your arms to make yourself appear larger. Pick up young children to keep them from running. If attacked, fight back with hands, stones, etc.
Q: What constitutes a confirmed sighting of a mountain lion?
A: Physical evidence, such as fur, tracks, scat or photos must be used to confirm sightings. Report any observations to your nearest Game and Parks office or call 402-471-0641.
Q: Can we expect to continue to have mountain lion encounters in the future?
A: Yes, but it is doubtful that a population will establish itself in areas where human population density and associated habitat disturbance is high.