Recent reports of mountain lion sightings in the Omaha area and Washington County, Nebraska, have stirred up a mixture of intrigue, concern, and questions among local residents.
Mountain lions, also known as cougars or pumas, have a long history in Nebraska. While they were once extirpated from the state, they have been making a gradual comeback over the past few decades. The recolonization of the Pine Ridge, Niobrara River Valley, and Wildcat Hills areas has been closely monitored by wildlife officials. Omaha’s location on the far eastern portion of the state makes these sightings especially notable.
Washington County Incident, 2021
On December 24, 2021, a mountain lion was hit by a vehicle along County Road 15 in Washington County. The driver, Blaine Olson, was surprised to discover the animal, as he initially thought he had hit a raccoon or opossum. Washington County deputies responded to the incident, ultimately putting the injured mountain lion down. “It appeared healthy and strong, but I never expected to see a mountain lion in the wild,” Olson told local media.
Recent Concerns in Blair
A Facebook thread in a Blair, Nebraska community group highlights the ongoing debate and concerns among residents. Kimberly Ann’s question about a reported sighting in SW Washington County led to a spirited discussion about the prevalence and risks of mountain lions.
Kenny Nelson, a top contributor to the conversation, noted that mountain lions are “common enough the average farmer doesn’t even report them.” He also shared personal experiences with mountain lions preying on his calves.
Rachael Domann weighed in, stating that mountain lions have been around for much longer than some realize, emphasizing that “they are all around us (yes even in Washington County)!!!!”
Living with Wildlife
The Omaha sighting in July 2023, captured on a home security video, and the consequent search for the mountain lion underscore the complex relationship between humans and wildlife in urban and rural settings alike. Nebraska’s Mountain Lion Response Plan calls for the removal of a mountain lion within city limits, but the implementation of this plan must be handled with care and consideration for both human safety and animal welfare.
Local authorities and the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission continue to work to educate the public, emphasizing proper reporting and safety measures.
Mountain Lions in Blair, Nebraska: What to Do if You See One
Blair, Nebraska, like many communities in the region, is no stranger to wildlife. Recent discussions and reported sightings have raised concerns about mountain lions in the area. Encountering a mountain lion can be both fascinating and alarming, so it is crucial to know how to respond to ensure the safety of both humans and the animal.
1. Keep a Safe Distance
If you spot a mountain lion, the first and most vital step is to maintain a safe distance. Mountain lions are typically shy and will likely retreat if given the space and opportunity. Make sure not to corner or provoke the animal, as this can lead to unpredictable behavior.
2. Protect Yourself and Others
Stand tall and make yourself appear larger by raising your arms or opening your jacket if wearing one. Speak in a calm and firm voice, and back away slowly. Never turn and run, as this can trigger the animal’s predatory instinct. If you are with children, pick them up without bending down or turning your back on the mountain lion.
3. Do Not Feed or Attempt to Interact
Remember that mountain lions are wild animals. Offering food or attempting to interact can be dangerous and is often illegal. Feeding wild animals can disrupt their natural behavior and diet, leading to unforeseen consequences.
4. Report the Sighting
Contact local law enforcement or the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission to report the sighting. Providing details of the encounter helps authorities to monitor mountain lion activity and respond appropriately.
5. Educate Yourself and Your Community
Knowledge is empowering. Understanding mountain lion behavior and sharing this information with neighbors can foster a more harmonious coexistence. The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission offers resources and education on living with mountain lions.
Encountering a mountain lion in Blair or any community is a rare and significant event. By acting responsibly and following these guidelines, residents can contribute to a balanced relationship with these majestic creatures, reflecting a broader respect for the wildlife that shares our environment.
What do you think? Are you worried about mountain lions in the Blair area?