BY DAVID HENDEE
WORLD-HERALD STAFF WRITER
Published Tuesday November 25, 2008
A mountain lion killed by a deer hunter in northwest Nebraska was a rare specimen. It was female.
A 16-year-old boy shot and killed the 97-pound female cat when it appeared on a game trail and — showing no fear — approached within 15 steps of the hunter Saturday, according to the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.
The boy, who wasn't identified, was in a group of hunters on U.S. Forest Service land south of Chadron.
The adult cougar is only the fourth confirmed female in Nebraska during the last century, said Sam Wilson, the Game and Parks mountain lion expert in Lincoln.
"If you don't have female mountain lions in Nebraska, you don't have a population in Nebraska," Wilson said Monday. "This one is significant."
The rocky, forested Pine Ridge, where the big cat was shot, is ideal cougar habitat. Most of Nebraska's 56 confirmed cougar sightings since 1991 — some of them duplicates — were in northwest Nebraska between Chadron and Harrison. The region is immediately south of a growing population of mountain lions in South Dakota's Black Hills.
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