Pumas (AKA mountain lions, cougars, and Puma concolor) are adaptable cats that live throughout western North America and much of South America. But a large part of their range has been lost. Pumas have been extirpated from the eastern two-thirds of North America, largely due to indiscriminate hunting and targeted extermination efforts by the United States government.
Thanks to more responsible management practices in the western US since 1965, pumas are beginning to recolonize some of their former range. They are slowly moving east, with small breeding populations now present in states like Nebraska. But their recovery in that state is threatened by a senseless hunting proposal.
Nebraska’s Game and Parks Commission wants to allow 20 percent of its Pine Ridge puma population, which numbers only 59 individuals, to be killed. This reckless proposal has recently been condemned by Dr. Mark Elbroch of Panthera, a well-respected NGO that is dedicated to the conservation of the earth’s wild cat species.
As Dr. Elbroch writes, Nebraska’s puma population is too small for sport hunting. Permitting this ridiculous hunt could halt the cats’ eastward expansion, and create more conflict with people. He also emphasized that 30 percent of most puma populations are kittens. This means that out of Pine Ridge’s 59 individuals, only 40 of those are likely to be adults.
Nebraska’s proposed hunt has no basis in science – or in fact any form of sense. Dr. Elbroch has requested that members of the public send emails to Sheri Henderson, the Secretary to the Director of Nebraska Game and Parks, in opposition to this hunt. In addition, the Mountain Lion Foundation has provided a suggested message that big cat advocates can send.
Unfortunately, Dr. Elbroch has stressed that emails should be sent by tomorrow, June 21, to have the most impact. So please, if you can manage, send an email today to Sheri Henderson to voice your opposition to Nebraska’s proposed puma hunt.