Mountain lion shot in Valentine after multiple sightings and disruption of a golf tournament

By: - September 22, 2023 5:37 pm

A six-month-old male mountain lion at the Omaha zoo. (Courtesy of NEBRASKAland Magazine/Nebraska Game and Parks Commission)

LINCOLN — A 103-pound mountain lion was shot and killed Thursday on the northern edge of Valentine, only a couple of days after the cat had disrupted a local golf tournament.

The cat, identified as a “subadult” male, had been spotted on a trail camera crossing the eighth-hole green on Tuesday morning while an invitation was underway for middle school girls at the Frederick Peak Golf Course.

“I was like, ‘Oh, crap, that could be a problem,’ ” said Jacob Fuehrer, superintendent of the unique, 10-hole course.

Radio station KVSH reported at least two other sightings of a lion in Valentine this week.

Golf tournament cancelled

Officials with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission worked with the Valentine Police department to dispatch the mountain lion, which was within city limits, on Thursday.

Sam Wilson, the commission’s program manager of carnivores, said the lion was removed in accordance with the agency’s Mountain Lion Response Plan. It calls for mountain lions that are within city limits to be removed for the safety of residents.

Wilson said lions aren’t shot with tranquilizer guns and relocated because public safety is the top priority, and tranquilizers can take several minutes to take effect, allowing an animal to escape.

Zoos, he said, won’t typically take in a wild mountain lion because they don’t do well in captivity.

No additional Omaha sightings

Fuehrer said Tuesday’s golf tournament had to be cancelled midway through the 18-hole event. None of the contestants, he said, actually saw the lion.

It was sad, Fuehrer said, to learn that the animal had to be shot, “but I understand that they have to do it.”

Wilson added there have been no additional sightings of mountain lions in the Omaha area following a spate of reports in late July and early August. 

That lion, he said, likely moved on.


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Paul Hammel
Paul Hammel

Senior Reporter Paul Hammel has covered the Nebraska state government and the state for decades. Previously with the Omaha World-Herald, Lincoln Journal Star and Omaha Sun, he is a member of the Omaha Press Club's Hall of Fame. He grows hops, brews homemade beer, plays bass guitar and basically loves traveling and writing about the state. A native of Ralston, Nebraska, he is vice president of the John G. Neihardt Foundation.