A very unique mountain lion died in Arizona recently. This fact by itself isn't unique; on average at least 321 lions are killed by humans each year in that state. What is unique is the fact that despite catching this lion in the act of killing a house cat - somebody's pet - the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AGFD) decided to release the offending cougar back into the wild rather than euthanize it as would have been standard procedure.
This singular act of restraint came back to benefit AGFD and the scientific community a hundred fold.
Prior to the lion's release in 2006, she was fitted with a collar. The GPS tracking unit allowed biologists to follow the lion's movement and provided them with information which helped shape AGFD's policies towards lions residing near the urban interface; including the decision not to use an urban location as a sole reason to kill a lion.
Over the 3-years she was tracked, this lion lived about 90-percent of the time in the urbanized area of West Prescott, Arizona. During this time she never killed another pet, and proved to the world that lions can live in urban areas without becoming aggressive towards humans.
Despite living for 11-years (a long time for a wild mountain lion) this unique ambassador of America's wildlife eventually became a victim of one of the many hazards facing any animal living near a city. She was struck by a car late at night and had to be euthanized because of the extent of her injuries.
Let us thank her for what she provided us in information about her kind, and hope that because of her example other lions might be allowed to co-exist near humans while still living free.
Go to MLF's Newsroom to find out more about this and other lions.