Rugged mountains at sunrise.
 
Opinion
Text: The editorial voice of the Mountain Lion Foundation.

10/20/2011

Why won't the California Department of Fish and Game Protect Our Lions?

Due to what appears to be bad decisions made on the part of California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG) officials, an innocent mountain lion and two of her three young kittens have been killed, with the remaining kitten left to starve or eventually be killed by humans.

The saga of this little family tragedy started near the rural community of Susanville, California in mid-August after the mother lion killed a deer (which is a lion's natural prey-species) and began feeding upon it along with her three kittens. While this was a natural act, and the lions had not harmed or threatened any humans or their pets and livestock, CDFG authorities decided that action had to be taken because of a nearby day-care center located on the grounds of the local community college. Subsequently, CDFG was able to successfully trap and capture the mother lion and one of the kittens. It is at this point where CDFG's decision process comes into question, because rather than holding and eventually relocating the animals once all had been captured, someone decided to have them euthanized. This act was repeated a few weeks later when one of the two uncaptured, 5-month old, starving kittens trapped itself in a chicken coop. Rather than sending it to a zoo or a licensed wildlife rescue center, CDFG officials ordered it also killed.

As a general rule, the Mountain Lion Foundation does not second guess "public safety" calls by CDFG or local authorities. Life and death decisions where humans have a chance of being harmed or killed is no place for second guessing by people who are not on the scene. That said, once the potential danger has been removed--in this case safely trapped--the situation shifts from being a public danger concern to a proper disposal issue.

It is our contention that apparently CDFG officials did not look any further than the cost and inconvenience of having to deal with captured wild animals and decided that it was easier to just kill them and throw away the bodies. This is very strange behavior on the part of a state agency which is supposed to act on behalf of the public's trust and protect these creatures. Just the other week authorities in Boulder, Colorado handled a similar situation where a mountain lion was found sitting in a tree on the CU-Boulder college campus. Their state game personnel tranquilized the young lion and relocated it in the nearby foothills.

Why is it that lost mountain lions that innocently wander into human-developed areas seem to be treated better in states like Colorado where the creatures are aggressively hunted, than in California where the trophy-hunting of lions is banned and the creatures officially listed under state law as a "specially protected mammal"?

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Please Note:
As of today (October 20th) the last remaining kitten is still running free and trying to survive without much chance of succeeding. Your help is needed to prevent a repeat of what has already happened to two of its siblings. Please contact CDFG's new Director today and let him know that you do not agree with his Department's actions and that you want a non-lethal solution found to save the life of this baby lion when it is eventually caught. MLF knows for a fact that several zoos and wildlife rescue centers have offered to accept this young animal.

Mr. Charlton H. Bonham
Director California Department of Fish and Game
1416 Ninth Street, 12th Floor
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 653-7667
Director@dfg.ca.gov

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