I made a presentation yesterday to the San Benito County Fish and Game Advisory Board and a packed audience of angry ranchers, trappers, and county officials. The special meeting - held in response to MLF's chastising letter to the San Benito Board of Supervisors (available for viewing at mountainlion.org) - allowed county residents a chance to voice their opinions about the supposed threat they face from mountain lions.
Despite what I or representatives from the California Department of Fish and Game said to the contrary, most of the local speakers continued throughout the meeting to blame mountain lions for their problems. Citing bumps in the night, lack of deer to hunt, and less calves birthed than expected, several stated categorically that this had to be a result of too many lions, and that unless someone did something about it, "somebody's blond-haired little girl was going to be dragged off into the woods and eaten."
When confronted with the fact that San Benito County has one of lowest records of human/mountain lion conflicts among any of California's 58 counties, I was proudly informed that this was "a result of the 3 S's - SHOOT, SHOVEL, and SHUT UP."
That was their smug explanation for why over the past 36 - years only 15 depredation permits have been issued against lions in San Benito County; the last one occurring in 2001; and why only one lion, (in 1990, the year Proposition 117 passed) has been killed under the depredation permit process.
Sadly, the meeting ended with no opinions changed, and amongst declarations that this gathering was the "genesis of a movement to repeal Proposition 117."