The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission has approved next year’s mountain lion hunting season in the Pine Ridge and it’s identical to this year’s. It runs Jan and Feb with a limit of 4 lions and a sublimit of two females. 320 permits will be issued by lottery to Nebraska residents only.
Agency Furbearer Carnivore Program Manager Sam Wilson told the commission the proposed limits were in keeping with the current estimate of 34 mountain lions in the Pine Ridge region. That down from the 2017 estimate of 59 and Wilson said a new population survey is underway.
There were 11 mountain lion deaths after last year’s hunting season for a total loss of 25. Collisions with vehicles was the #1 cause of death among the big cats. Asked about livestock and Big Horn Sheep losses, Wilson said there was only 1 report of depredation and 1 confirmed Big Horn kill.
The Commission also approved a River Otter Management Plan that includes trapping up to 75 otters per year that could actually be as high as 125 since many traps would still be out when the limit is reported.
Otters had died out in Nebraska by the 1980s and were on the Endangered Species list. That led Game and Parks to reintroduce 159 in state streams between 1986 and 1991, moving otters to the Threatened list.
The population is now estimated at 2,200 statewide with the species delisted last year. The otter plan and trapping season, like the mountain lion hunting season, has a goal of maintaining resilient, healthy and socially acceptable populations that are in balance with available habitat and other wildlife species.
The Commission also formed a search committee to help find a successor to Game and Parks Director Jim Douglas, who is retiring in November after 9 years in the post and nearly 47 years with the agency.