Nebraska once again opens its fragile mountain lion population to trophy hunters

By on January 10, 2020 with 61 Comments

Last week, a trophy hunter killed a mountain lion in Nebraska and posted a photo of himself on social media with the dead animal, a one-and-a-half-year-old male. While most Americans would find this unnecessary killing of a majestic native carnivore horrifying by itself, the facts behind this killing are even more outrageous. There are just an estimated 40 adult and teenage mountain lions now living in Nebraska, and rather than protect them, the state is playing into the hands of trophy hunters by letting them go after these beautiful animals.

This is the second consecutive year that Nebraska has opened season on its lions. One would think the state would value them more, because they were completely wiped out in Nebraska by the early 1900s due to intense predator culling. Before that, mountain lions roamed throughout Nebraska. It was only in 2007 that the Game and Parks department documented the return of mountain lions in the northwestern region of the state known as the Pine Ridge, with evidence of a reproducing population.

The numbers have grown slowly since, but with just 40 adult and sub-adult (a stage between dependent kitten and adult) lions, this is a fragile population and they must be protected. The state’s annual quota allows trophy hunters to kill a staggering 20 percent of the Pine Ridge population, far more than what experts believe is sustainable. The loss of just one mountain lion can have tragic consequences for such a small population, because of the disruption it causes to their sensitive social communities.

Nebraska is not the only state making wrongheaded decisions on its lions. Next door, Colorado Parks and Wildlife has proposed increasing its annual hunting quota to a distressing 664 mountain lions across the state. The agency’s rough estimates of its mountain lion population – 2,000 to 3,000 adults and sub-adults – are based on anecdotal evidence and small-scale research, and even if they were accurate, it would mean Colorado will allow trophy hunters to kill nearly 30% of this mountain lion population.

Utah’s Division of Wildlife Resources also recently authorized a quota of nearly 700 mountain lions for the state’s most recent hunting season, which could decimate 40% of the state’s mountain lion population, if not more, because unlimited hunting is allowed in some regions.

In what could be described as a small step in the right direction, however, the Utah Wildlife Board this week passed regulations to limit the number of hounds that can be used to pursue mountain lions and black bears, though the limit is still extremely high at 16 hounds. The board also approved a proposal to require mountain lion and black bear hunters to take an ethical hunting course prior to obtaining a permit to pursue or trophy-hunt these animals.

The good news is that there is growing public opposition to the hunting of native carnivores, and there are a few states that have made great progress on protecting their mountain lion populations. In November, the New Mexico State Game Commission voted to end recreational trapping of these wild cats, and the ban will take effect later this year. California has had a long-standing ban on the trophy hunting of mountain lions – a ban that has withstood court challenges from trophy hunters. Oregonians and Washingtonians banned the use of hounds to trophy hunt mountain lions and black bears through ballot initiatives and continue, year after year, to defeat efforts by trophy hunting interests to bring back this inhumane hunting practice.

A number of studies, including a recent one from Colorado State University, show that Americans highly value wildlife, including top carnivores such as mountain lions, and are concerned about their welfare and conservation. Surveys also show that a majority of Americans do not support trophy hunting and other cruel forms of killing.

The number of wildlife watchers, who would rather see a beautiful animal alive in the wild, is also growing – by an estimated 20 percent between 2011 and 2016 alone, according to a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service report. On the other hand, the numbers of hunters who target big game have greatly declined and pale in comparison to wildlife watcher numbers and dollars spent on various activities that value wild animals in their natural spaces rather than killing them as trophies.

There are 14 states that now allow mountain lion hunts, and the Humane Society of the United States is fighting to end this practice in each one of them. Colorado will vote this week on its mountain lion quota at a meeting of the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission in Denver on January 15th and 16th and we will be there to speak out against it, just as we will continue to speak out against the unnecessary killing of America’s iconic native carnivores and the trophy hunting of animals anywhere in the world. If you are in the Denver area, please join us and make your voice heard against the trophy hunting of native carnivores.

Public Policy (Legal/Legislative), Wildlife/Marine Mammals

Subscribe to the Blog

Enter your email address below to receive updates each time we publish new content.


Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Daniel O'Brien says:

    Leave the mountain lions alone. They are important as top predators to their habitats, so cancel the trophy hunting and send the hunters to jail if they kill a lion.

    • Jacci bene' says:

      Yes I totally agree

    • Gregg says:

      They said the same about SD. I live on 7500 acres of National Forest. Lions have decimated our deer and elk herds. They have nearly wiped out our Bighorn Sheep. We now have a season on lions and are seeking a balance, again. I like to hunt deer and elk and donate the meat to Lakota Elders who don’t have much food, besides commodities. Right now, I havent been able to draw a permit for three years That means lions are eating the protein that the Elders need. We seldom meet our kill quotas on lions. They are very crafty and elusive. They come into Rapid City in broad daylight and steal pets out of their kennels.

      • Julie says:

        Finally! Someone speaking with common sense.

      • Patty James says:

        Dear Gregg, I appreciate your efforts to share the bounty from the hunting of deer and elk with the Elders of the reservation. Having grown up in a small coal mining town in Wyoming, I know there were many families whose health and welfare depended on their supply of deer, antelope, moose, elk and bear meat to subsidize their food requirements.

        Are there not enough of the deer, elk, etc. to accomplish this help for those in need? I know ranchers in Wyoming and Montana think they have the right to destroy every wolf within a thousand miles because they may lose a hundred cows during a years time. They never mention just how many thousands of cows they actually raise, often on free range government land, that they use and the huge profits they manage to pocket. How many Big Horn Sheep are there in SD How many Mt. Lions? Thank you for your information, should you desire to continue this conversation.

      • Karen Morton says:

        I seriously doubt lions are decimating those herds of animals. Lions range in quite a large area,and males do not overlap by much,females a little different. The young after 2 years have to find their own place 30 to 50 miles from other males.How many deer and elk and sheep are hunters taking? What about natural causes or food supplies.

      • Marylin says:

        This must STOP.
        Leave God’,s creatures alone. Shooting an animal doesn’t make you a man. Exactly the

      • Don Bracken says:

        They must have been really hungry before you came along to feed them eh? Have you ever heard the term natural balance?

      • Fernando says:

        Just stop it. It’s a cowardly action. Death penalty to those who enjoy torturing / killing.

      • Cheri Christensen says:

        That is BS and you know it! Lions prey consists almost exclusively of the diseased, the old and weak – meat you wouldn’t want to put on
        your own table – but sure – give it to the natives and tell yourself how noble you are. Your excuse that Lions kill too many elk and deer is false and has been disproved over and over – but trophy hunters continue to use it. Now the new hysteria is that there are too many Llons and they’re going to start eating people – again BS. If you control the deer population you control the cat numbers -they limit their own population in any given area by migrating to areas where deer are plentiful. Mother Nature has a plan – and humans always screw it up. Lion hunting is not even a sport – it’s a chase to the death with dogs and ATVs. How is that sporting? Nebraska has 34 measly mountain lions – and they want to kill 20% – leaving nursing kittens to starve so some testosterone poisoned man can feel “manly”.

    • Nath says:


    • Zach Baugh says:

      You animals rights people are so clueless, Co state estimated population is 5,000! Estimated! You guys play down numbers and lie through your teeth! Hunters care about wildlife a helluva lot more than you idiots and contribute more to their conservation. We like lions. We want them to have a healthy population. They’re a predator to manage along with everything else. Hound hunting is the most ethical way to hunt these big cats, you can harvest male lion at close range being able to see the difference in sex.

      • Cheri Christensen says:

        BS – lion hunting is NOT ethical – it’s a blood sport and a chase to the death. If you hunted lions with a bat and a knife THAT would be sporting – or even a rifle on foot. It’s a cowards “sport’ with all the advantages given to the dogs, and ATV’s that are driven by madmen. When lions start killing people then we can discuss controlling their numbers – but right now Mother Nature is doing her job and she’s a whole lot smarter than you.

  2. Alan Alejandro Maldonado Ortiz says:

    Ya no podemos permitir tanta injusticia solo por diversión esto tiene que acabar es muy importante unirnos

  3. Concerned says:

    Sick to do this!

  4. Roseann Varallo says:


  5. Friedrich Seifert says:

    Es ist ein Verbrechen an diese schönen Tieren,die das ermöglichen müssen Bestraft werden.

  6. Amandal Ehrenford says:

    Do not give into trophy hunting of these beautiful mountain lions!!

  7. Joye says:

    Are they stupid?

  8. Sara Tucker says:

    Please stop killing our beautiful, sentient animals for fun. This is evil😡

  9. Charlene suppes says:

    Trophy hunting should be outlawed thru-out the world. It allows serial animal killers their kicks at killing animals. That way they share a picture and a smile and pat themselves on the back that they are the big bad hunter! Actually, there isn’t much hunting involved when you shoot them when they are sleeping or have a guide drive you up to the animal. Trophy hunters are the low life’s of hunting.

  10. Susanne says:

    Americans, what can I say !!!

  11. Karen Isaacs says:

    Why do h iij mans insist on extinguishing populations of Gods beautiful creatures! Have we lost all respect for life and Gods cteatures!! Thes swe beautiful creatures have every right to live as we do! Stop killing our animals!!!

    • Janette Mejia says:

      Yes!! Many people feel this way yet in the United States, trophy hunters are allowed to bring their elephant heads into the country! We can thank Trump for that!!

  12. cat says:

    When is enough enough..
    Stop shooting everything ..
    Give it a brake
    …..OMG STOP

    • Patty James says:

      Cat, I agree, when is enough, enough. I grew up in Wyoming. I was my Grandfather’s “boy” and spent many hours with him out on the desert areas while he hunted deer, antelope, elk, rabbits, and prairie gross. The larger animals were always hunted legally with a license and one only was taken. Usually the meat was given to other families that were in need of this resource for their proper health and welfare. (In the 50’s and 60’s there was no unemployment, no food stamps, no type of any government help if you lost your job and could not afford to buy groceries or pay your rent) . He would maybe bring home one rabbit or one sage hen. That was it. Unfortunately there were many others around us that would go out and kill 20 or 30 rabbits or hens or prairie dogs in a day, just for the “fun” of it. There were no laws or controls to stop this. As a result, the prairie dogs and jack rabbits are nearly gone and the sage hens are endangered in many places. It is sickening. I hate it. Humans and guns in our country is a horrid situation. The death and cruelty they practice is disgusting. I wish I knew how it could be stopped.

      • Patty James says:

        As far as the killing of mountain lions and wolves. that is really a sore spot for me. Ranchers in Wyoming, Montana, Colorado raise thousands and thousands of animals and live handsomely on their profits, but most of them act as if they lose even one cow, they will go bankrupt. All businesses in this country operate with a certain amount of overhead and loss. however these owners of these ranches act as if they’re are entitled to operate in perfect circumstances that suits only them. If they had their way they would destroy every wolf presently alive.

        • Cheri Christensen says:

          Not only that – but there are wildlife federations that pay the rancher if his cow is taken by a lion.. He grazes his cows on land that the federal govt. owns – pays almost nothing – and then wants to kill the apex predators that kill the deer that eat “his” grass that feeds his cows. Crazy!

  13. Karla Flay says:

    I appreciate and follow your campaigns to stop trophy hunting and to.protrct wildlife…In Greece, where I live, birds and wildlife have been decimated by shooting and hunting

  14. Nadia Royker says:

    This is a total travesty! 💔💔💔🤬🤬🤬😢😢😢
    No respect for God’s creation. These animals have as much right to being here, to live their lives as God intended them to. Not to be hunted as a sport. This is nothing but pure evil. This species should be on the endangered list as their numbers are rapidly dwindling. Yet another species that will be extinct very shortly. The greed and cruelty of the human populace knows no bounds and has no respect for the sanctity of the Earth and all it’s living creatures.

  15. Kristin Haley says:

    Trophy hunting of ANY animal should not be allowed. I know animal populations need control but it should be left to nature

  16. Kelly says:

    Trophy Hunting Is WRONG….PERIOD…. It Should Be Outlawed Especially on An Endangered species….

  17. Christine says:

    please stop all this killing
    let them RUN FREE

  18. Natalie Zolnay says:

    I’m Furious! Leave our animals in the wild alone!! Nobody has the right to kill any animal and that includes wild animals. Let them be free like they have for centuries.

  19. Natalie Zolnay says:

    This news makes me furious! Stop finding reasons to kill the animals surviving and living in the wild. Enough is enough! These animals have lived free for centuries. Nobody has the right to decide they can be killed for Sport nor for any other reason. Leave the Countries Animals in the wild alone and allow them to live free from harm.

  20. Jacky Thomasson says:

    Why are people
    So stupid? Why do they insist on killing anything that moves. The mountain lion is just one of the many animals that are being trophy hunted and it needs to end. It sounds like they just want to destroy every living thing on the planet!!

  21. Gwen Mehring says:

    This is sickening and very sad. To allow trophy hunting so the proud hunter can say he killed one of the last of them ?

  22. D. Ephrat says:


  23. Susan Gubernatis says:

    This maKes me ashamed to BELONG to the human race. We have lost our soul. I just want to weep!!

  24. Patrick McGowan says:

    Shameful – 40 Lions only, and they won’t protect them. Moronic!

  25. Bruce says:

    I would bet dollars to donuts that these deplorables are all tRump supporters. I wish they could be stopped from carrying out their evil plan. Since there isn’t, I hope that many of them are removed by the very lions they’re hunting, and the rest to “accidents”. F ’em.

  26. Carmen says:

    This needs to stop humans are so ungrateful and greedy and Moses and trophy hunters need to prove something to others..

  27. Anke says:

    is there a petition against trophy hunting that I can sign?
    please allert me! and mail it to me (-;

  28. Marian Prato says:

    I live in Southern California and there has been many sightings of mountain lions who have come down into various neighborhoods along with coyotes who are looking for food. Due to all the fires, floods and housing built these wild animals are literally running out of food in their own habitat. Unfortunately they have attacked and carried off dogs, goats and other animals from their own backyards as so many homes have been built against the foothills. The killing of neighborhood dogs and other animals was told on the news recently along with a close up video of a particular mountain lion they tracked down near one of the neighborhoods. The video showed an extremely emaciated and very weak looking mountain lion. It was obvious that he was starving and I honestly felt sorry for him. I don’t blame these poor animals because everything about their habitat has been taken away.. I feel sorry too that some of the homeowners lost their beloved pets. Nevertheless the deputies ended up shooting this lion with a dart which temporarily incapacitated him and brought it to another part of the region where he might have a chance to live. These roaming mountain lions are usually tagged with numbers to keep track of them. And even though this lion killed neighborhood dogs Etc the sheriffs do not kill mountain lions here. They only reposition them and I am really thankful for that.

    • Patty James says:

      Dear Marion, the scenario you described has occurred in many areas due to expansion of housing into our previously unsettled areas. It makes me so relieved and happy to know that the State of California deals with this problem in the manner described. That method would work everywhere. It is up to us, each individually, to standup against the slaughter of these animals. Thank you for sharing.

  29. Linda hegyi says:

    This is disgusting. I can’t believe these killers are proud of themselves. I believe they are extremely sick and brutal people and don’t understand how they enjoy the torture and suffering of these beautiful creatures.

  30. Nebraska hunter says:

    Not sure where you get your numbers. There are over 60 adults in just the small area of the northern pan handle with lions coming in from the black hills. They also allow the harvest of a total of 6 animals with only 2 being female. If 2 females are taken they shut it down. Of the 6 allowed to be taken this yr 2 tags have been filled which will probably be it. Stop the fear mongering as these are all in state hunters that arent trophy hunters but people that want both the harvest of meat and to also help maintain a balance so there is less conflict between man and animal.

  31. Max Sax says:

    This is really unfortunate. We can’t police the world but we can actually control what’s around us. Let’s choose to preserve our fine animals and not use them for target practice. Where’s the petition?

  32. angie says:

    If I ever am in a house and I see a trophy head of an animal on the wall, I’m going to ruin it so that you can’t display it anymore.

    People who do that are barbarians and they disgust me. These are endangered creatures, not an opportunity for you to pretend you’re some tough guy.

  33. Pierre Perrett says:

    I wonder, why these stories mention only the offending states but fail to name the people (public servants)who permit these obscene activities? I feel that HSUS should name and shame state employees/politicians who pass these regulations. This would shine a light on the actual enablers of the trophy hunters within the community (taxpayers). And while we’re at it, those who apply for trophy hunting permits can also be named (using FOI act) so the general population can choose to either boycott their businesses or shun them socially.

  34. Michael Kitcho says:

    A lot of bad information in this article. There is over 60 in the pine ridge they have no natural predators they must be controlled

  35. Carol W says:

    Trophy Hunters are SICK and SADISTIC COWARDS. They will use the cruelest, most unfair methods to kill wildlife, including baiting, hounding, trapping, and running captive hunts. Innocent animals are sometimes forced to suffer broken limbs or other painful injuries, dehydration, starvation and exposure for hours or days until they are killed or die a very painful death on their own. WHY is it our GOVERNMENT won’t ban the UNNECESSARY KILLING of INNOCENT ANIMALS ? If anyone wants to sigh petitions against Trophy Hunters is great

  36. Sandra Bell says:

    There is no excuse for trophy hunting. What is the thrill of seeing something beautiful and thinking, “I’m going to kill that”? There is something mentally off with people who get a charge out of senseless murder. How insecure and impotent does one have to be to stalk wildlife in their habitat and shoot bullets into them? How many more species do we have to lose? It’s deplorable and unforgivable.

  37. Peggy C. says:

    Trophy hunting of Cougars is not sustainable management. It can actually lead to more conflicts with humans and livestock because of the social structure of these animals. It’s easy to see how the females are vital to the population because they are the ones who raise dependent cubs. But in addition to that, the large, older resident males are necessary for maintaining social stability in the population. Once a dominant male is killed (the kind of animal trophy hunters are aiming for) that territory space is left vacant and is filled by less experienced males, which unlike the older males tend to be the ones responsible for livestock kills and aggressive encounters with people. Cougars are territorial and will regulate their own population density. It is better to leave them alone. There are better ways to coexist with cougars than killing them for a “trophy”.

Share a Comment

The HSUS encourages open discussion, and we invite you to share your opinion on our issues. By participating on this page, you are agreeing to our commenting policy.
Please enter your name and email address below before commenting. Your email address will not be published.