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

10/24/2011

Californians Value Their Lions

Last month, the only known male mountain lion left in Southern California's Santa Monica Mountains was killed and mutilated by a poacher. Residents were outraged that, according to Calabasas City Councilmember Mary Sue Maurer, "someone would intentionally kill one of our rare mountain lions. We are determined to do everything we can to bring the perpetrator to justice."

California is home to the nation's largest mountain lion population, and many communities take great pride in their local wildlife and do everything they can to prevent poaching. The town of Calabasas is no exception and has joined with CalTIP (Californians Turn In Poachers and Polluters), wildlife organizations, and caring individuals to increase the initial reward from $2,500 to $11,700.

In nearly every state that still has a viable mountain lion population, the cats are hunted for sport. Thousands of lions are slaughtered each year for hunters' "recreational enjoyment" or to try to reduce the lion population because the species is simply "unwanted" in that particular state. Fortunately, that is not the case in California. In fact, most Californians are shocked and in disbelief when they hear about the cruel persecution mountain lions are facing across our country. The Mountain Lion Foundation is constantly asked "How could those states do such terrible things to this magnificent animal?" And, "How is that legal?"

Perhaps the reason most Californians view their lions in such a different light is because anyone born and raised in the Golden State under the age of 40 has never experienced a lifestyle where the killing of mountain lions is legal. That barbaric pastime has been illegal in California since 1972 when Governor Ronald Regan emplaced the first moratorium on lion hunting. This noble act was made part of California law in 1990 when concerned citizens joined together to create MLF, and then place and pass Proposition 117 on a statewide ballot (now Fish & Game Code Reg 4800) to permanently ban the sport hunting of lions in the state.

What was once the leading state for lion slaughter (during the bounty period), California's society has now evolved an understanding that it is imperative to protect our remaining natural landscapes and the wildlife they sustain (after all, they are part of what makes California so unique and amazing). This month, the state's citizens have proven once again they are willing to take the hard steps necessary to ensure something "wild" will remain in California for generations to come.

Anyone with information about the lion poached in the Santa Monica Mountains (or any other illegal lion shooting in California) is urged to call the CalTIP hotline at 888-334-2258.

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