Nebraska Legislative Bill 747
Mountain lion - photo by Craig A. Hyatt (Flickr)
The Nebraska Legislative Bill 747 is deeply flawed. It has been drafted and promulgated by people who have little concern for nature or wildlife and in this instance the beautiful cougar. If they have a concern for nature it is distorted and biased.
A bill is draft legislation before it becomes law. The Nebraska Legislative Bill 747 is an amending bill. Its purpose is to amend existing legislation. It was read for the first time on January 06, 2010.
It redefines the meaning of the word "predator" and makes provision (I say) for the unregulated shooting at will of the cougar that has been so mercilessly hunted and persecuted over eons in Canada and the USA.
The introduction reads:
"FOR AN ACT relating to the Game Law; to amend sections 37-202 and 37-559, Reissue Revised Statutes of Nebraska, and section 37-201, Revised Statutes Supplement, 2009; to define predator; to provide for killing depredating or aggressive mountain lions; to provide for a permit; to provide powers and duties for the Game and Parks Commission; to harmonize provisions; and to repeal the original sections."
I have highlighted the bit that concerns me.
The bill states that a mountain lion (cougar) is a predator (nothing new there then - domestic cats are predators too!). The bobcat is also referred to as a predator.
It goes on to say that any farmer can kill a predator preying on livestock, without a permit. That on its own does not seem too bad although it opens the door for massive abuse. Who decides if the cat is preying on livestock or not? Where are the witnesses. The only witness will be the farmer and the cat! And isn't there a better way? How much livestock is killed by cougars (relatively very little)? Why not compensate farmers instead?
It gets worse. A following section reads as follows:
"Any landowner or his or her agent may kill a mountain lion immediately without prior notice to or permission from the commission if he or she encounters a mountain lion in the process of stalking, killing, or consuming livestock on his or her property. The landowner shall be responsible for immediately notifying the commission and arranging with the commission to...."
And the following:
"Any person shall be entitled to defend himself or herself or another person without penalty if, in the presence of such person, a mountain lion stalks, attacks, or shows unprovoked aggression toward such person or another person..."
These sections open the door to massive abuse as well.
Who is to say a mountain lion is "stalking livestock". A mountain lion could simply be on the farmer's property minding its own business but a trigger happy farmer can say it is stalking livestock.
The same goes for a mountain lion stalking a person. Who can tell? The judgment is made by the person being stalked and he kills the only other witness, the cat!
This is deeply flawed legislation which in effect says that people can kill a mountain lion if they want to and then justify it afterwards by claiming they were being stalked.
I am sure that there is little or no opposition to this ghastly bill. It, no doubt, will be passed into law and the population of this fine animal will decline further. They like to hunt them in Nebraska. They think as they did about 100 years ago. They just refuse to enter the modern world.
I am indebted to Greg Lyons of who wrote an article for the Feline Conservation Federation's magazine for May/June who brought this to my attention.