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(Neb.)-Omaha Senator Introduces Bill To Repeal Mountain Lion Hunting

By: Roxie Graham-Marski Posted at: 01/21/2014 12:18 PM

(PINE RIDGE)-As the Nebraska legislature convenes for their 2014 session, one bill in particular that appears to impact the Pine Ridge area of Northwest Nebraska seems to have some people in a dither. Senator Ernie Chambers has introduced LB671, a bill that calls for the repeal of LB928, which was introduced by Senator LeRoy Louden and passed in 2012. LB671 would not only repeal the 2012 legislation that authorizes the Game and Parks Commission to hold a mountain lion hunting season, it would also repeal an existing law that allows the immediate killing of a mountain lion that is threatening livestock or people. It would also strip the Game and Parks Commission from having any authority over a mountain lion hunting season.
The Dawes County commissioners decided at a recent meeting that they needed to visit with Senator Chambers about the situation face-to-face, to share with him the viewpoint of many people in the Pine Ridge area, so Commissioner Stacy Swinney headed to Lincoln last week to visit with the Senator. Swinney met with Chambers twice while he was in Lincoln and talked at length with him as to how and why Chambers feels the way he does about mountain lions and the protections he is trying to afford them. Chambers told Swinney that he thinks treeing and killing mountain lions is cruel and inhumane and that Game and Parks should not be collecting a high price on licenses that were auctioned off during the state’s first mountain lion season. Swinney explained to Chambers that mountain lions can pose a real threat to people and livestock and that people need to be able to protect themselves when in danger. Swinney said Chambers didn’t share any suggestions as to how to deal with mountain lion predation in the area other than to say that they shouldn’t be killed.
Swinney says Chambers admitted that he can be a hard man to deal with and his position is not easily swayed, but he did say that he is working closely with Senator Al Davis on LB494 to try and ensure that this bill makes its way through legislation. LB494 seeks to change the number of districts and members of the Game and Parks Commission to include a district and a commissioner for Northwest Nebraska.
Swinney extended an invitation to Chambers to visit the Pine Ridge area to meet with locals, gain a different perspective, and familiarize himself with the community’s needs and concerns. Chambers said perhaps he will one day, but not while legislation is in session. Swinney left his phone number with Chambers and encouraged him to call with any questions or if he wanted to discuss the mountain lion situation further. Swinney says he is cautiously optimistic regarding his encounter with Chambers, because Chambers did say he wished he had spoken to Swinney before introducing the bill. “The ball is back in his court now,” said Swinney. “I think we’re better off than we were, because we’ve opened up communication with him. If he contacts us, he might really be interested in the issue, but if he doesn’t, then he’s only interested in politics and not the real facts.”
While in Lincoln, Swinney also went to the Game and Parks commissioner meeting on Friday to provide representation from Northwest Nebraska. He said the commissioners seemed to appreciate the effort of Dawes County to have a presence at the meeting, and they also expressed appreciation for the county’s support.
Swinney says it’s important for those in the Panhandle region who have something to say regarding LB671 to contact Senator Chambers and the area’s local senators with their questions and concerns.
Senator Ernie Chambers
District 11 (Serving a segment of Omaha)
Room #1114
P.O. Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509
Senator Chambers has chosen not to have an e-mail address.
Senator Al Davis
District 43 (Serving 12 counties including Dawes and Sheridan Counties and a corner of Box Butte County)
Room #1117
P.O. Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509
Senator Ken Schilz
District 47 (Serving 10 counties including Sioux County and the majority of Box Butte County)
Room #1022
P.O. Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509
Senator John Harms
District 48 (Serving Scottsbluff County)
Room #2011
P.O. Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509
(Questions? Comments? E-mail news@chadrad.com.)
(Copyright 2014 KCSR/Chadrad Communications, Inc. May not be reproduced in any form without permission.)


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