Mountain lion found dead near Denton latest in string of sightings – Lincoln Journal Star

Mountain lion found dead near Denton latest in string of sightings – Lincoln Journal Star

Mountain lion found dead near Denton latest in string of sightings – Lincoln Journal Star

Mike Jacobsen found a dead mountain lion in his Denton-area field on Dec. 19.
Mike Jacobsen was checking his fences near Denton after last month’s windstorm when his kids pulled up on their four-wheelers.
“They said, ‘Dad, dad. There’s something dead down there; a bobcat or a mountain lion.’”
Jacobsen followed them, and found the dead cat sprawled at the edge of the field, where it meets the tree line.
“It was massive; its paws were pretty big.”
He called the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, and an officer came out that night to pick up the animal.
Jacobsen heard later from a conservation officer that the lion was an approximately 3-year-old female, that it had been shot through the lungs and, based on the condition of its fur, had been dead before the Dec. 15 storms, he said.
Duane Arp, the commission’s law enforcement assistant administrator, would only confirm the cat was a 3- to 4-year-old female. The cause and timing of its death is still under investigation, he said.
The animal is the second confirmed mountain lion in the Lincoln area in less than a month; in early December, a game camera captured images of one near U.S. 34 and the MoPac Trail.
And it capped several months of highly publicized reports of the animals wandering far from the state’s resident populations in the Niobrara River Valley, Wildcat Hills and Pine Ridge regions.
Last month, a lion was struck by a car northeast of Arlington, which is near Fremont. It was still alive when Washington County Sheriff’s Deputy Jesse Carey responded, but he was told by Game and Parks to put it down.
“He was a big boy,” Carey said. “It took two of us to lift him up into the tailgate of the truck.”
Also in December, the commission confirmed mountain lion tracks left in the snow in Norfolk, near Northeast Community College. And in September, a vehicle driven by a high school student struck and killed a lion on Nebraska 14 near Fullerton.
But Sam Wilson, the commission’s furbearer and carnivore manager, isn’t convinced the number of at-large lions is on the rise. His office fields multiple reports annually that don’t make the news, unlike the recent roadkills and urban sightings.
“Those are confirmations that get people’s attention,” he said. “But it looks to me that it’s fairly similar to how it has been in past years.”
Typically, mountain lions found in areas of the state other than their known populations are young males that dispersed from their group to seek females, Wilson said.
Those matchups are rare — forcing the males to keep wandering, sometimes leaving the state — because females don’t disperse nearly as often as males.
But it happened last year in northeast Nebraska, along the Missouri River.
Over the summer, a landowner shared trail camera images of a female mountain lion with three kittens, Wilson said. And a commission staffer later transferred an abandoned male kitten found in the area to the Riverside Discovery Center in Scottsbluff.
Wilson and others are researching those animals, to see if they are — or will become — the state’s fourth known lion population.
And the carcass Jacobsen found Dec. 19 was female. His family raises bison in that field, off Southwest 112th Street, but it’s far from the road. Which meant someone either shot the mountain lion on his land, or from his neighbor’s.
“Obviously, someone was traveling around people’s property hunting where they weren’t supposed to be.”
He’d heard reports of lions in the Denton area, but hadn’t seen one until his kids came calling that day.
“I wish I wouldn’t have had to see it dead. I kind of like those things.”
Reach the writer at 402-473-7254 or psalter@journalstar.com.
On Twitter @LJSPeterSalter

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General assignment reporter
Peter Salter is a general assignment reporter who has worked at the Lincoln Journal Star since 1998.
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Mike Jacobsen found a dead mountain lion in his Denton-area field on Dec. 19.
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