Gov. Dave Heineman vetoed Sen. Ernie Chambers’ bill Friday to eliminate Nebraska’s short hunting season on mountain lions.Heineman said the hunting season is an important tool in wildlife management.
The bill now goes back to the Legislature. It would take 30 votes to override the veto. The bill initially passed on a vote of 28-13.
Heineman also said the bill to eliminate the season could be unconstitutional, because Nebraskans adopted a constitutional amendment in 2012, stating that “hunting, fishing, and harvesting of wildlife shall be a preferred means of managing and controlling wildlife.”
Heineman sent the following letter to the Legislature:
I am returning LB 671 without my signature and with my objections.
LB 671 would repeal authorization for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission to issue permits for hunting mountain lions.
In 2012, I signed LB 928 to grant the Commission the authority to permit the hunting of mountain lions. The majority of you supported the enactment of that law.
Nebraskans expect responsible wildlife management. LB 671 eliminates an important tool used to accomplish it.
The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission should retain the ability to determine those management actions which are necessary to protect both the health and safety of our citizens and the wildlife in our state.
Removing the agency's authority to manage mountain lions through hunting at this time is poor public policy.
I am concerned that LB 671 is potentially unconstitutional as it prohibits wildlife management of mountain lions through hunting.
The majority of Nebraskans expressed, through the 2012 adoption of Article XV, Section 25 of the Nebraska Constitution that “hunting, fishing, and harvesting of wildlife shall be a preferred means of managing and controlling wildlife.”
This provision of our Constitution is so new there is no clearly established law that tests its reach. However, LB 671 could be challenged as infringing upon Article XV, Section 25 because it precludes hunting which is now established as “preferred means” of wildlife management.
Even if LB 671 is not unconstitutional, it fails to respect the will of Nebraska's citizens on this issue.