Mountain Lions not a threat

 In an editorial cartoon April 3, a mountain lion (a.k.a. puma) was depicted as a ferocious feline chasing two Nebraska men.

The cartoon was a caricature and stereotype of mountain lions and misrepresents their role in nature. The cartoon portrayed the mountain lion as an aggressor that was trying to intimidate and terrify or kill the men. It was overly simplistic.

It is extremely ironic that the real facts regarding mountain lions in Nebraska tells us that they were completely annihilated by European settlers by the 1890s through violence; similar to the fate of wolves and buffalo that once roamed wide swaths of the Great Plains. Mountain lions were trapped, poisoned and shot to death with a vengeance. Once this is recognized, you can then conclude who the real aggressors are in this scenario.

In the 1990s mountain lions were again spotted in Nebraska. Mountain lions have existed in the Americas for more than 8 million years, and while they became extinct in North America during an ice age, they made a comeback as their genetic cousins migrated north from South America starting about 10,000 years ago.

Mountain lions are a part of our Great Plains heritage and have a long, rich history here. And it is a scientific fact that predators, including mountain lions, are essential for biodiversity and ecological balance.

There is no record of mountain lions killing Nebraskans in more than 20 years since their return in the 1990s (from 100 years of exile).

You are much, much more likely statistically to be killed with a gun, weapon or vehicle than by the mighty puma.

Henry David Thoreau wrote in his famous essay “Walking” that “In wildness is the preservation of the world.”

Mountain lions are part of that wildness.

Linda Dugan

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