Attempt to Ban Mountain Lion Hunting Fails in Nebraska

Just days after Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman vetoed LB 671—the mountain lion hunting ban—the state’s senate considered a motion to override the veto. Pushed by Senator Ernie Chambers, the motion needed 30 votes to pass but only garnered 24 yes votes.  A second, and final, vote to override the veto was taken on Thursday and also failed to reach the needed 30 vote threshold.

“This is a huge win for sportsmen and scientific wildlife management, not only in Nebraska but across the country,” said Nick Pinizzotto, USSA’s president and CEO. “Our wildlife management system is designed to be free of political maneuvering and gamesmanship. Nebraska sportsmen should thank Governor Heineman for vetoing this bill and the sportsmen-friendly legislators that sustained the veto.”

This effort started the opening day of the 2014 legislative session, when LB 671 was introduced to overturn Nebraska’s newly established mountain lion hunting season. The measure, introduced by Senator Chambers, would have removed the authority of the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission to manage the state’s growing mountain lion population.

Senator Chambers made this his top priority for the 2014 legislative session, declaring that he would oppose every proposal of the state’s Game and Parks Commission until the mountain lion season was banned.

“The mountain lion season was unanimously approved by the legislature in 2012,” said Pinizzotto. “Holding the Game and Parks Commission hostage over the mountain lion season is the exact reason we’ve tried to remove politics from wildlife management.  This issue has nothing to do with managing wildlife and everything to do with anti-hunting sentiment.”

In response, sportsmen from throughout Nebraska flooded the capitol with phone calls, letters, and emails opposing LB 671.

“It was great to see the hunting community come together in opposition to this bill,” said Pinizzotto.  “USSA worked closely with the Nebraska Sportsmen’s Foundation to defeat LB 671. In addition, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, Nebraska Big Game Society, Nebraska Fur Harvesters, the Nebraska State Chapter of NWTF, Prairie Bowmen Lincoln, the Nebraska State Chapter of SCI, Whitetails Unlimited and others all played critical roles in the effort.”

On Friday, March 28th, Governor Heineman vetoed the bill, sending a strong message of support for sportsmen and the professionals at the Game and Parks Commission. In his veto message, Governor Heineman stated “Nebraskans expect responsible wildlife management. LB 671 eliminates an important tool used to accomplish it. The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission should retain the ability to determine those management actions which are necessary to protect both the health and safety of our citizens and the wildlife in our state. Removing the agency’s authority to manage mountain lions through hunting at this time is poor public policy.”

“This a great day for sportsmen in Nebraska,” said Scott Smathers, Executive Director of the Nebraska Sportsmen’s Foundation. “The partnership with USSA was invaluable to stopping this misguided bill.  The grassroots support from sportsmen across Nebraska provided the much needed pressure to keep the senators in our corner.”

Take Action! Nebraska sportsmen should call Governor Dave Heineman at (402)-471-2244.  Thank him for his strong show of support for sportsmen and scientific wildlife management.