The killing of two mountain lion kittens in Half Moon Bay, California, has sparked legislation to change how the California Department of Fish and Wildlife handles mountain lion public safety situations. Senate Bill 132, introduced by Senator Jerry Hill, authorizes less-than-lethal force to be used in potential public safety situations, allows qualified individuals and organizations to partner with the Department, and requires an annual report to the legislature.
Early in the morning commute a male mountain lion was struck and killed by a car on Highway 101 near the town of Buellton, California. This is a common form of death for lions in Southern California. What makes this instance unique is that a motorist stopped, sawed off the animal's paws and genitals for possible sale on the black market, then tossed the carcass into a nearby gully in an effort to hide the evidence.
Claiming that an attempt to capture two house cat-sized mountain lion kittens would be too dangerous, on December 1st the California Department of Fish & Game chose to shoot them instead. MLF, the public, and wildlife rescue groups throughout California called out the Department, saying their actions were unjustified and unacceptable treatment of a state protected mammal. As a result, Department policies and procedures are being revised. MLF is also working with Senator Jerry Hill on SB 132 to make nonlethal options mandatory.
South Dakota's Game, Fish & Parks Commission approved a hunting season for the 2012-2013 that would kill between 70 and 100 lions in the Black Hills alone. Despite MLF's best efforts to prevent the killing with sound science and support from the majority of South Dakotans, and the devastating slaughter kicked off the day after Christmas. Because lion hunting is unlimited in the rest of the state (outside the Black Hills region), a total of 110 to 140 mountain lions are likely to be killed in 2013, not counting orphaned kittens. The population may already be lower than that.
Although, HR 4089, the so-called "Sportsmen's Heritage Act of 2012," passed the U. S. House of Representatives in 2012, it died a quiet death in the Senate as the legislative session came to a close. HR 4089 was a highly controversial bill that combined several hunting proposals into one package claiming hunting is a beneficial activity which can occur on Federal public lands (including wilderness areas and wildlife refuges) without "adverse effects on other uses or users." We are glad to see this bill die.
Just one week after assuming the presidency of the California Department of Fish and Game Commission, Dan Richards' photo appeared in an outdoors hunting blog, holding up a freshly killed mountain lion trophy. Mountain lions are a specially protected mammal in California. Not so in Idaho, where Richards accepted a free lion hunt from a trophy hunting ranch. The gift was determined by California to be a breach of ethics. Richards was removed from the presidency by his fellow commissioners and he was not reappointed after his term expired in January 2013.
Unfortunately, California Fish and Game Commissioner Jim Kellogg was reconfirmed for another six-year term by the Senate Rules Committee on January 9, 2013 by a vote of 4:1. This unfortunate re-appointment was likely a "done deal" from the get-go. It seemed apparent that none of the senators had read any of the many letters of opposition from more than twenty environmental/animal organizations.
On Friday, July 13th, California Assembly Bill 1784 — authorizing scientific research on mountain lions in California — was signed by Governor Jerry Brown, making the bill a law. AB 1784, introduced by Assembly Member Bill Monning, is the culmination of work that occurred over more than a year by the Mountain Lion Foundation and other concerned parties to restore lion research after the California Department of Fish and Game suddenly decided at the beginning of 2011 that there was no legal statute allowing them to authorize research on mountain lions.
Although they dropped the term "unlimited," the Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD) has drastically increased quotas and finalized plans that will effectively eradicate lions in their portion of the Black Hills to enrich a few greedy ranchers. Within the two already over-harvested hunting zones (HA 1 and HA 30), combined with the newly created Hunt Area 32, WGFD has authorized the death of approximately half the lions in the region so that local ranchers can carry on lucrative mountain lion hunts long after the Black Hills lion harvest quota has been reached on public lands.
On Friday, May 18, 2012 mountain lion advocates cheered as Missouri Senate Bill 738 officially died in committee. Mountain lions can now rest a little easier in the show me state. SB 738 would have declared open season on lions, allowing anyone to kill a lion at any time, for any reason, and in effect encouraged the extermination of this rare animal.