Bill authorizing mountain lion plates advanced

Nebraska drivers could show their support for mountain lions with special license plates under a bill advanced by lawmakers Jan. 28.

Under LB474, introduced by Omaha Sen. Ernie Chambers, the mountain lion protection plate would be available in alphanumeric or personalized versions with designs supportive of Nebraska’s mountain lion population. The alphanumeric plate would display up to five characters and not use a county designation.

The fee for the alphanumeric plates would be $5, credited to a newly created Nebraska Game and Parks Commission educational fund. Personalized plates would cost $40, with $10 credited to the Department of Motor Vehicles cash fund and $30 credited to the commission’s educational fund.

The commission would be required to use the educational fund to teach youth about wildlife conservation practices.

Besides creating a fund and an educational program, Chambers said, the bill is designed to direct attention to Nebraska’s dwindling mountain lion population. Because of the excessive number of female mountain lions killed this hunting season, he said, survival of the species is in jeopardy.

“There is a tremendous amount of support for conserving the small population of mountain lions we have in this state,” he said.

A Transportation and Telecommunications Committee amendment, adopted 36-0, changed the proposed mountain lion protection plate to mountain lion conservation plates.

North Platte Sen. Mike Groene supported the bill, saying that conservation efforts are the reason the state’s mountain lion population continues to exist.

“The reason we have mountain lions in this state is because of the conservation efforts by Game and Parks,” Groene said. “They were nearly extinct and they came back to the state because of the efforts of [Game and Parks].”

The bill advanced to select file on a 38-0 vote.

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