Declaring his "repugnance" over the inception of Nebraska's inaugural lion hunt, State Senator Ernie Chambers declared to the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission that he would "oppose every proposal it brings to the Legislature as long as it allows mountain lions to be hunted."
The commission had come to the Nebraska Legislature's Executive Board (of which Senator Chambers is a member) with a request to accept the donation of 193 acres of land offered by Ducks Unlimited in Fillmore County, and a playground structure worth $48,421. Any land donation worth more than $10,000 and certain other donations offered between sessions have to be approved by the board and others, including the governor.
Senator Chambers told Roger Kuhn, a division administrator for Nebraska Game and Parks, that he had expressed his "displeasure, repugnance and disgust" to Nebraska Game and Parks Director James Douglas over the establishment of a mountain lion hunting season. He had told him to take the message to the commission that he would strenuously oppose any proposal as long as the hunting season continues.
Senator Chambers said he was also "thoroughly outraged" by the auction conducted for a mountain lion hunting permit by the Nebraska Big Game Society.
"I was told that fears led to the creation of a hunting season for these, what I consider to be regal animals," he said. "And these fears were engendered by the possibility or likelihood of these animals eating the grandchildren of Nebraskans."
That notion is baseless, he said, because there is an inconsequential number of mountain lions in the state and those few "have better taste than that."
"There is no need or justification whatsoever to hunt these animals," Chambers said Monday. "It's cruelty. It's barbaric. I will do what I can to stop it."
In 2012, the Nebraska legislature passed Legislative Bill 928 allowing a mountain lion hunting season. Senator Leroy Louden of Ellsworth introduced the bill in response to increased sightings of the animals in the state. Before the law was passed, mountain lions could be killed if they threatened humans or livestock.
Experts believe that maybe there are as many as 23 resident mountain lions, including possibly two breeding females, in Nebraska at this time.
Senator Chambers said he would have voted against the donation offers presented to the Board last Friday, but the Executive Board delayed any action on the items until more board members were present. Three were absent from the meeting.
Senator Chambers informed the Board that if it approved the donations, he would offer a motion when the Legislature was back in session to undo that approval.
Known as the "Defender of the Downtrodden," Senator Chambers has announced that he will "designate mountain lions as members of the downtrodden."
"By fang and claw, somebody's going to pay in terms of the Legislature's time," he said. "And I don't mind being alone. In fact, that energizes me."
There is no record of mountain lions threatening or attacking humans in Nebraska since the species was extirpation from the state in 1890.