Mountain Lion Foundation is in Nevada all this week, and so it might seem like a coincidence that a mountain lion was killed in Las Vegas just as we were checking in for a series of public meetings that will affect mountain lions in Nevada. But it happens all too often.
Monday, January 25, 2016 Nye County law enforcement received a report of a mountain lion in Pahrump, Nevada (just west of Las Vegas). Animal Control responded to a report of a mountain lion in the area and found the mountain lion in a thicket near some homes.
The Nye County Sheriff's Office then set up a perimeter to ensure the safety of residents, and called on the Nevada Department of Wildlife. Read the press release here.
Nevada Fish and Wildlife officers made the decision to shoot and kill the young lion. Although the Sheriff's office indicated that the location did not allow NDOW to tranquilize, it is difficult to understand why experienced wildlife officers could not have hazed the lion back into the wild, or tranquilized and relocated the lion once they had established the public safety perimeter.
From the size of the lion apparent in the photo, it is clear that the lion posed little public safety danger, and was little more than a kitten.
The maps and photos seem to show access to open space. Obviously they had clear shot at the lion.
When wildlife officers make decisions that deprive the public of their wildlife heritage, it is crucial that they also provide clear descriptions of the situation.
The Nye County Sheriff should be applauded (see below, what you can do) for posting a Press Release on their Facebook page, making information available to the public, and for responding to public questions. It took courage to do so, especially given that local law enforcement were not responsible for the decision to kill the lion.
At the time of this reporting, could find no other information on the incident, from NDOW or the press.
In California, the Mountain Lion Foundation passed a law to protect lions from being killed just because bullets are cheaper than tranquilizers. Now, unless a California lion is actually behaving aggressively and people are in imminent danger, the lion cannot be killed. Utah is successfully relocating lions, even in highly populated areas, as are many other states.
The Nye County Sheriff's Office noted that this time of year it is common for mountain lions, coyotes and bobcats to migrate into the Pahrump Valley in search of food due to winter conditions in the mountains. We hope that all of the agencies in the area will come up with better plans to respond to these "common occurrences".
But we need to encourage agencies to act more effectively and to provide greater information to people who live nearby.
The Mountain Lion Foundation is working closely with the Nevada Wildlife Alliance to change state policies regarding hunting, trapping, "predator management" and, yes, what to do when a lion mistakenly wanders into town.
We are sending a letter to thank the Nye County Sheriff for contacting NDOW, for making such valuable information available to the public and for responding to public questions and outrage.
MLF Staff attended a presentation in Reno on Tuesday to learn more about the specific scientific research that details how mountain lions are surviving in Nevada and how species conservation can be improved in the state.
Our Associate Director will attend public meetings on January 28, 29, and 30th in Las Vegas to urge NDOW, the Nevada Board of Wildlife Commissioners and other policy-makers to better protect Nevada's mountain lions.