|LIONS IN THE NEWS
Officials Take Slow, Natural Approach
On June 1st a mountain lion that wandered too close to the town of Morrison was given a second chance, thanks to Colorado Division of Wildlife's humane and scientific approach to managing wildlife conflicts.
Read the Article Another South Dakota Lion Spotted in Michigan?
According to Michigan DNR cougar biologist Adam Bump, "This is the first confirmation in 2012, and the first verified photo of a cougar taken in person and not by a remote camera." So far only dispersing young males have made the trek to Michigan, but with proper protection laws, maybe someday we'll see females and the start of a breeding population in the Midwest.
Mountain Lions CAN be Safely Captured and Released!
A Washington mountain lion was captured, unharmed, and released back to the wild the following day. Upon release, the fish and wildlife officers shot beanbags at the fleeing lion and set off exploding firecrackers. The goal was to make the young lion have a healthy fear of humans.
|Guide: Becoming a Lion Activist
Are you new to mountain lion activism? You want to change your local environment to improve it for cougars... but you don't know how to start. You may feel like you are all alone... but it takes just one person to change the attitudes and lifestyles of hundreds of others. You started your search... and connected with MLF. That's a BIG start!
For more information, please read our:
First Responder BriefMountain Lions: How to Live with the Big CatsMLF San Diego Volunteer Field Rep Robin Parks will talk about basic cougar biology and general safety tips, and address the myths and misinformation that surround cougars. He'll also discuss various "shoot/don't shoot" considerations and evidence that shows killing a wayward cougar simply because it has wandered into human territory is rarely necessary and is often the wrong decision.
Please join us and encourage your local law enforcement officers and first responders to attend as well.
Whittier Narrows Nature Center (Los Angeles, CA)South El Monte, CA 91733
1000 North Durfee Avenue
Wednesday, June 20th
7:00 a.m. and repeated at
Please RSVP: Colleen MacKay,
Whittier Narrows Nature Center
Ensure a better tomorrow for America's lion by taking action today!
Current Action Alerts:
Wyoming Game & Fish is planning to kill even more lions in the Black Hills.
This federal bill would allow sport hunting on almost all of our U.S. public lands.
Help track down those responsible for the mutilation of a California lion and put an end to black market trading of wildlife parts.
Part 1: Barking Up the Right Tree! Washington's Karelian Bear Dog Program
Guest Commentary by Bob McCoy,
MLF Volunteer Field Representative, Sammamish, WA
Where cities meet wildlands, crossing the boundary can often make the difference between life and death for a mountain lion. We all know that mountain lions are often shot and killed to insure public safety when they wander across this unmarked boundary following prey such as deer or raccoons, in search of water, or when challenged out of their territory by a parent or competing lion. Bill Hebner, a Captain in the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife (WDFW) envisioned and implemented an alternative that allows authorities to relocate some cougars back to the wild: Karelian Bear Dogs.
The communities of Sammamish and Issaquah lie along what wildlife biologists call the wildland-urban interface - often abbreviated as WUI - as does much of Washington State. The WUI is a line that loosely defines where nature and wildlife meets urban or suburban development. Occasionally, wildlife wanders across the line, gets lost, and attracts attention.
We have all seen articles stating, "Authorities kill wild animal for public safety." Most of us (statistics are with me on this) ask, "Why didn't they relocate the animal? Why did they kill it?"
Captain Bill Hebner of the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife has pondered that same question over the many years he has served in wildlife enforcement. Bill's current jurisdiction of North Puget Sound consists of King, Snohomish, Skagit, Whatcom, Island, and San Juan counties. Before taking charge of fish and wildlife enforcement in this area, Bill helped to establish WDFW's Statewide Special Investigation Unit in the mid '80s and also worked to solve interstate and international wildlife crimes.
In 2011, Captain Hebner received Washington State's Governor's Award for Leadership in Management:
Reconditioning is essentially reinforcing a wild animal's natural fear of humans enough that the animal can recognize the boundaries of human habitation and stay clear of those dangers.
How does one 'recondition' a bear or cougar?
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|Idaho Tells Familiar Tale to Justify Lion Killed by Boise Police
by Tim Dunbar, Executive Director
According to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG), Boise is in the middle of lion country. Tucked up next to the Idaho National Forest, and with a riparian greenbelt running through town, its no wonder this community - fondly referred to by locals as the "City of Trees" - will get the occasional mountain lion showing up where it shouldn't.
Such was the case of a young female lion first spotted on Friday, May 18th, in an east Boise foothills neighborhood with a recently killed deer - a natural prey source for lions.
That sighting sparked an intense hunt for the lion by IDFG personnel who staked out the cashed deer carcass in the hope that the lion would return and could be harassed out of town with rubber bullets. However, the lion failed to comply with IDFG's plans and wasn't seen again for several days until being spotted Monday morning in Boise's downtown area and again later that day by Boise State University staffers who reported a lion eating from a dumpster near the student union building.
Police were dispatched to the scene and under IDFG's authority shot and killed the young lion early Tuesday morning as it crossed a nature trail in the Boise River Greenbelt near Bronco Stadium.
IDFG spokesman, Matt O'Connell, justified the lethal action by claiming that "the Boise PD was actually acting on our behalf. We had given them the OK that if they felt it necessary they should go ahead and kill the cat." He explained further that "the cat had crossed the line from normal cat behavior." because it was scavenging food, and opined that "using a tranquilizer was not an option."
Matt O'Connell, a conservation officer with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, stands above the mountain lion killed by Boise Police in May 2012.
Apparently, like most law enforcement agencies, Boise police officers do not carry the equipment necessary to tranquilize an animal, and despite the fact that the lioness hadn't demonstrated any evidence of threatening humans, someone decided that the police officers could not wait for a trained IDFG officer with the proper equipment to arrive.
The Department's explanation of this latest "public safety" killing is almost the same as that delivered last September when another young, transient lion was shot by an Ada County sheriff's deputy.
In both cases, excuses were made by IDFG representatives about the trouble of relocating lions, how tranquilizers don't always work as expected, and how interaction with humans "habituates" the creatures. All reasonable sounding arguments, but not necessarily true.
See Mountain Lions CAN be Safely Captured and Released! for an example of how one agency is successfully and humanely handling wildlife incidents. And check out WDFW Hard-Releases a Relocated Cougar to see their program in action.
Lion research conducted in numerous western states show that mountain lions have long interacted with humans along urban interfaces, and to a greater extent than previously assumed. One such lion used neighborhoods in the outskirts of Tucson, Arizona as part of her territory without causing trouble or killing any pets after her first encounter with humans six years earlier when she was trapped in a chicken coop and fitted with a radio collar. And counter to what many claim, it is a fairly common practice for lions to scavenge the leftovers of another animal's kill.
As for relocation, lion researcher Toni Ruth conducted a study in New Mexico to ascertain the validity of the standard belief that you can not relocate mountain lions. The study's findings showed that young lions - transients - who have not yet established a permanent home, can easily be moved to a new location without any apparent complications.
Unfortunately older lions were more likely to return to their established home territories - but they are not necessarily the ones that get into trouble in the first place. This new understanding is being successfully field tested by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife with their ground-breaking efforts to capture and relocate lions that've become lost and find themselves in developed areas.
Click here to learn more about Toni Ruth's research.
However, the true problem isn't the rationalization IDFG and other state game agencies offer to excuse a killing, it's the fact that it's a rare local law enforcement agency that is equipped or trained to handle wildlife calls or emergencies.
These young, frightened animals can't wave a white flag or raise their arms and surrender when surrounded by excited and inexperienced police officers.
If a lion can't out-wait its persecutors, it will focus on anything that looks like a way out and run as fast as it can to reach it. Unfortunately, to first responders trying to "contain" the scene, this terrified break for freedom has the same appearance as a dangerous, wild animal charging for an attack.
In incident after incident the story remains the same, no one involved with a public safety shooting of a lion is happy with the results. It doesn't matter whether they are police officers or state game agency personnel. In almost every case, all voice a sincere regret for the lethal outcome and wish things could have turned out differently. Maybe it's time for society to help those individuals putting their lives on the line by insisting that they receive the tools and training needed to create non-lethal outcomes in tense and dangerous wildlife situations.