View Full Version : Mountain lion shot by LEOs in NE town

November 22, 2000, 11:36 PM
On monday a 120 # female mountain lion was shot and killed by law enforcement officers in the small Nebraska town of St. Paul (pop. around 2k). St. Paul is located in south central NE, about 20 miles north of Grand Island, in between the North and Middle Loup rivers. Over the past several months there had been several unsubstantiated reports of a lion in the area, including one of a horse being attacked.
According to stories that I have read in the papers, the cat passed within a couple of blocks of the elementary school, and near the high school about the time school was being dismissed. Reports were made by parents picking up their children. Some high school kids saw it and tracked it for a ways before the LEOs showed up and chased them off. They then followed the cat to an area at the edge of town where there were some junked vehicles parked in a bunch of cedar trees. The cat tried to take refuge under a flatbed truck and was shot by the officers with a shotgun and a "hunting" rifle. There has been some criticism of the shooting , saying they should have used a tranquilizer gun, but they are not standard issue in small town patrol cars (gee, neither are "hunting" rifles and deer season is over).
The dead cat was taken to UNL for a necropsy to determine its health status at the time of death. Officials have been quoted as saying that the cat must have been "mentally or physically impaired" (one of the witnesses in town has the cat clearing an 8' tall wooden fence - don't sound to impaired to me, in the pictures it looked to be in pretty good condition, as for mentally impaired, the only problem I see is that it didn't have too much fear of humans, probably been living pretty close to em for a while.) Other statements included that they didn't know how the cat could have gotten to this part of the state. Maybe they should ask the Tourism Dept. what that big blue line on the map (Platte River) that comes down out of Wyoming is. It could also have worked its way down from the Pine Ridge or Wildcat Hills (the other cats were killed out there in the northwest part of the state) by following the Niobrara, Snake, Dismal, and Loup Rivers.
For some reason the Game and Parks Commission doesn't seem to have any trouble accepting the fact that elk and even moose wander into the state occasionaly, even warning hunters not to shoot them, but is extremely reluctant to even admit the possibility that there are mountain lions living in the state. This is only the seventh "officially confirmed" sighting of a mountin lion in NE in the past 100 years, kind of strange though, in that four of the "officially confirmed" sightings have ended up with a dead cat (3 by LEOs), all within the last few years. There are about 350 sightings reported a year, but almost none are "officially confirmed". There have been quite a few sightings of mountain lions and tracks as well as missing calves in the area that I hunt turkeys and deer near the Niobrara River in north central NE. My dad and I spotted one about 80 yds away while turkey hunting a year and a half ago. They are a protected species in NE, so some ranchers are talkin "shoot, shovel, and shut-up", (actually it would be legal to shoot one if it were attacking your livestock) but it sounds like the LEOs will handle the shooting for you, and then maybe the sighting will be "confirmed".
for more on the story do a serch of the Omaha World-Herald at http://www.omaha.com

November 23, 2000, 02:30 AM
I would just go hunting. Shoot it, strap it to your truck, and head home. If anybody stops you you got it on an out-of-state hunt, afterall, there are no big cats in NE:D

November 23, 2000, 03:29 AM
I think the re-introduction of predators [the four legged ones]in the lower 48 will do a lot to help CCW and 2nd amendment :D:D:D

November 23, 2000, 03:42 AM
I waffle on this issue. It would be nice to see a major predator reoccupy part of its former range. We got lots of predators in Alaska and we value them as important game species and as an important part of the ecosystem. On the other hand having a big cat wander through town (and by coincidence past a school, big, fat, hairy deal) and maybe attack livestock isn't a good deal. Sounds like a local issue to me whether or not they want predators. We get school kids trapped and run around trees by moose every year. Only one kid out in the bush was actually attacked by a predator (a wolf habituated to humans handouts), ever. Much bigger chance of being hit lightening or dragged off by a pervert than a mountain lion. Comments?

Al Thompson
November 23, 2000, 07:13 AM
Two thoughts -

I would not want one around town if it had lost that much fear of humans. Not sure why it ceased the usual stealth mode and I have to agree with the cops on this call. I would hate to have a child snagged by a cat.

I have had wise and schooled wildlife biologists carefully explain to me that there are *no* big cats in the SE. Lots of facts and explanations. Problem is - I've seen two. I know exactly what a bobcat looks like and these were not bobcats. :)


November 23, 2000, 09:30 AM
A couple of years ago, a young mother in British Columbia was killed by a mountain lion while protecting her children from attack. These are clearly not animals to be fooled with.

As for "mental and physical impairment" or using a tranquilizer gun, this is the tree huggers version of saying "be nice to it and it will be nice to you." Not hardly.
I live in the country and take a live and let live approach to predators. I don't actively hunt them but treat them very seriously and permanently when they threaten.

November 23, 2000, 04:32 PM
Only one kid out in the bush was actually attacked by a predator (a wolf habituated to humans handouts), ever.

I would not want one around town if it had lost that much fear of humans.

Well, field-dressed, I did read about that wolf attack, and that was the first time in North america that there was EVER a DOCUMENTED, CONFIRMED wolf attack on a human. But as far as predators, I fully consider bears predators, and there have been many bear attacks on kids. One that comes to mind is the attack by a grizzly on a kid, his dad, and grandpa on Resurrection trail this year.

And Gizmo, I wouldn't want a cougar in town PERIOD. I don't care if it is afraid of humans. A scared cornered cat could be more dangerous than one that has lost its normal fear.

I'd like to see the reintroduction of the cougar, the grey wolf, the grizzly bear, etc, but there are many areas were this just can't happen. Due to population, farming, and many other factors these animals could not live well in their old habitats that man has taken over. These are very Wild animals. There are wild animals like deer/coyotes/ and squirrels that will live anywhere regardless of their human neighbors, then their are WILD animals, and Grizzlies, wolves, and cougars count. They are shy and need alot of area to roam, undisturbed or molested by people on Bike trails, roads, farming, hunters, etc. Someplaces, Are still open enough to try this, but other places I wouldn't push it.

November 23, 2000, 08:18 PM
The article in todays paper said that it was a male. The first article I read had said male, then the Wed. paper said that it was a female not a male, and now it is back to male. The investigation at UNL showed no signs of anything being wrong with this cat, and no signs that it had been a captive or "pet" that had escaped. It is now also reported that it may have actually been living IN THE TOWN for the last week as some people are now claiming to have seen something, and a large number of tracks have been found. The first sighting of it on Monday (the day it was shot), was in a backyard where it may have been staying under a porch.
Also in todays paper was an article about a mountain lion threatening a brother and sister in or near Powell, Wyoming (northwest part of the state near Cody), anybody got any info on this?

Art Eatman
November 23, 2000, 10:02 PM
A few years back, up at Fort Davis, some kids on the way to high school saw a lion in a tree not far from the courthouse. So, they told the sheriff, who wandered out and disposed of Putty. Comments typical of the townies ran along the lines of, "I wondered what happened to my dog (cat)..." hey! Easy pickings!

I sorta though 120 pounds was a bit big for a female. 70-80 is more common in the southern habitat; maybe on up to 100 as you get farther north. Males will run 20 to 40 pounds heavier...

They sure are pretty to watch!


November 24, 2000, 01:50 PM
BadMedicine - According to ADF&G there have been 2 known fatal wolf attacks in Alaska's history. Both in the 1940's and both believed to be rabid. Six people have been reported attacked by wolves in Ontario, one fatally. The last attack happened in 1998. Five of those attacks occurred in a Provincial Park where wolves are habituated to people, similar to the situation at the logging camp. I certainly agree with you that bears are predators, but its tough to figure out which attacks on people are carried out because of percieved threats to the bear (most attacks) or an actual act of predation, which black bears seem to do more often than brownies.

I agree that any large predator in town should be dealt with immediately, and the cheapest and surest method is the bullet.

November 24, 2000, 02:47 PM
Funny thing about "unconfirmed reports" we've had 2 bear attacks this year and 3 people killed by lions in the past 5, with another 'probable" (missing kid). But since one of the victims died "days later" of his wounds the lion didn't "kill" him. More people encroaching in lion territory = more people getting in thier way.

I don't beleive in shooting predators. if there is a lion in your area, obviously the deer/elk herd is healthy.

I feel the same way about wolves and yotes... however i have been known to think about the taste of bear.


Art Eatman
November 24, 2000, 05:59 PM
Dr. Rob, mountain lion meat is some of the finest goody you'll ever throw a lip-lock on. Gay-raun-teed! BBQ a hindquarter over a slow fire...Hoo Boy!

:), Art