Nebraska Game and Parks biologists say a mountain lion was hit and killed by a vehicle earlier this week about 20 miles from downtown Omaha.
Washington County Sheriff Mike Robinson posted an image of the big cat on Wednesday, calling it “a first” in his 40-year career.
The cougar had been struck northeast of Arlington, near the intersection of two county roads. Game and Parks is taking the carcass.
Nebraska has 3 breeding populations of mountain lions in the western half of the state, the largest in the Pine Ridge, but individuals – generally young males – will wander to other parts of the state and beyond.
Mountain lions were native to Nebraska, but had died out by the early 20th century from a combination of hunting, predator trapping, and loss of habitat to humans.
Solitary big cats began to be seen in the 1990s, migrating in from Wyoming and South Dakota before eventually establishing a sustained population. The last Game and Parks estimate in 2019 put their number at about 35.