LB 671 made it all the way to the Governor Heineman's desk, but unfortunately was vetoed. In the week following, the bill failed to get enough votes to override the veto.
Governor Heineman's veto letter stated:
Dear Mr. President and Members of the Legislature:
I am returning LB 671 without my signature and with my objections.
LB 671 would repeal authorization for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission to issue permits for hunting mountain lions. In 2012, I signed LB 928 to grant the Commission the authority to permit the hunting of mountain lions. The majority of you supported the enactment of that law.
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.
I am concerned that LB 671 is potentially unconstitutional as it prohibits wildlife management of mountain lions through hunting. The majority of Nebraskans expressed, through the 2012 adoption of Article XV, Section 25 of the Nebraska Constitution that "hunting, fishing, and harvesting of wildlife shall be a preferred means of managing and controlling wildlife." This provision of our Constitution is so new there is no clearly established law that tests its reach. However, LB 671 could be challenged as infringing upon Article XV, Section 25 because it precludes hunting which is now established as "preferred means" of wildlife management. Even if LB 671 is not unconstitutional, it fails to respect the will of Nebraska's citizens on this issue.
For these reasons, I respectfully urge you to sustain my veto of this bill.
Senator Chambers has made it clear this is not the end of his fight to stop the hunt. He will return next year even more motivated because, in his words, "The war is not over."
We look forward to working with Senator Chambers on legislation in 2015 to permanently ban the sport hunting of mountain lions in Nebraska. We hope you'll join with us once again.
Fulfilling his promise to try and save Nebraska's mountain lions, State Senator Ernie Chambers has introduced Legislative Bill 671 to repeal the hunting of mountain lions in his state.
Unconvinced by the so-called "fears" expressed by some Nebraska farmers and ranchers, Senator Chambers declared that the hunt approved last year by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission was uncivilized savagery and "certainly not hunting."
LB 671 would repeal the 2012 legislation (LB 928) that authorizes the Commission to hold a lion hunt.
Senator Chambers said Wednesday that in addition to this new legislation he will also oppose any new bills aimed at helping Game and Parks and will even go after the Department's budget if LB 671 fails to pass and the hunt is allowed to continue.
Renowned mountain lion expert Dr. Rob Wielgus has been working with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to revise their state's lion management plan and hunting quotas. Some of his published work was cited by Nebraska officials as they claimed it supported their decision to initiate a hunting season, too.
Dr. Wielgus was recently interviewed by the Omaha World-Herald newspaper about Nebraska's decision to start sport hunting its lions:
In a career spanning three decades of research on large carnivores, Wielgus said he has never heard of a state allowing hunting of such a small population of cougars. A total of 16 states allow some form of cougar hunting or shooting. He said the Nebraska season harkens to the days when the goal of mountain lion hunts was to eradicate rather than conserve.
"Hunting a population of less than 30 animals is just crazy," he said. "It's like anything can happen. They can blink out. It's just like rolling the dice."
A recent edition of NebraskaLand — a monthly outdoor magazine published by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission — explained the ecological importance of top predators like coyotes, wolves, and mountain lions.
Although these species can pose a small risk to people or domestic animals, the article explains that maintaining healthy carnivore populations can actually increase the health and abundance of prey species farther down the food-chain:
"It might seem counterintuitive that the diversity and abundance of prey species is highest when large predators such as coyotes are abundant, but in fact it has been documented countless times."
"Just like wolves, mountain lions also have profound impacts on prey, as well as larger ripple effects on ecosystems. Decreases in lion populations within western National Parks have allowed deer populations to mushroom, severely impacting the regeneration of oak trees. What's even more striking is that places where lions are still common have higher abundances of wildflowers, butterflies, amphibians, lizards, fish and aquatic plants. That's an impressive list of benefits from a predator that is rarely seen yet relatively abundant."
Read the full article on page 32 of the Jan/Feb edition of NebraskaLand Magazine...
If you live outside Nebraska, please forward this page to your Nebraska friends and consider sharing it on Facebook. You can also send Senator Chambers a quick note of appreciation and encouragement:
Sen. Ernie Chambers
P.O. Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509
LB 671 made it all the way to the Governor's desk, but unfortunately it was vetoed. The bill now goes back to the legislature for a final vote. If you live in Nebraska you can help by calling or writing a short letter to your local Senator telling him or her you support Legislative Bill 671. Ask your Senator to please support the bill and vote to pass it.
A few minutes of your time could make a big difference for Nebraska's lion population.
Please also send MLF a copy of your letter and cc emails to email@example.com. Thank you!
In your letter or telephone call, please point out:
Thank you so very much for taking the time to help protect Nebraska's mountain lions!
The Mountain Lion Foundation, founded in 1986, is a national nonprofit organization protecting mountain lions and their habitat. The mountain lion is also known as cougar, puma, panther, and catamount.
We believe that mountain lions are in peril. Our nation is on the verge of destroying this apex species upon which whole ecosystems depend. Hunting mountain lions is morally unjustified, and killing lions to prevent conflicts is ineffective and dangerous. There is a critical need to know more about the biology, behavior, and ecology of mountain lions, and governments should base decisions upon truthful science, valid data, and the highest common good. Conserving critical lion habitat is essential.
Together, we can save America's lion.
Join us today!No minimum gift is required to become a member of the Mountain Lion Foundation. Just make the donation you can afford using any of the following methods. Click HERE to make a gift through PayPal, or mail your contribution to Mountain Lion Foundation, P.O. Box 1896, Sacramento, California 95812.
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