Mountain lions have been a specially protected mammal in California since the passage of Proposition 117 in 1990. Under this law (California Fish & Game Code, Section 4800), even deceased lions or any part of a mountain lion may not be possessed unless the owner can demonstrate that the mountain lion, or part or product thereof, has been in the person's possession since June 6, 1990.
As a result, any lion that was killed for public safety, hit by a car, or even died of natural causes was tossed in the incinerator. What a waste. Museums, colleges, and nature centers wanted the opportunity to work with these specimens to teach students and the public about mountain lions.
In 2011, the Mountain Lion Foundation worked with Senator Fuller and Assembly Member Huffman to pass legislation (Senate Bill 769) to allow educational facilities to obtain permits to acquire and display deceased mountain lions. Though no longer able to fulfill their important role on the landscape, dead lions can help us to better understand and protect the species.
Today, the law does not prohibit the possession of a mountain lion carcass or any part or product of a mountain lion carcass, if all of the following requirements are met:
(a) Permit Requirements.
Pursuant to Section 4800 of the Fish and Game Code, no person may sell or possess any mountain lion, part or product thereof, unless he is in possession of a valid, nontransferable permit issued by the department. A permit shall be issued by the department only to:
(b) Information Required to Obtain a Permit.
The application for a permit issued pursuant to subdivision (a) above shall be in the form of a letter to the department's Wildlife and Fisheries Division located at 1416 Ninth Street, Sacramento, CA 95814 and the applicant shall submit the following information:
(c) Unique Identification.
Any person in possession of a permit to possess a mountain lion carcass, part or product thereof pursuant to this section shall uniquely identify such mountain lion carcass or part or product thereof. Unique identification methods include, but are not limited to, permanent marking, tattooing, microchipping, detailed photographs, descriptive measurements, or another suitable method approved in advance by the department.
(d) Change of Address or Name.
The permittee shall notify the department in writing of any change of address or name related to the permit within thirty days of the change.
Any permittee no longer desiring to possess a mountain lion carcass or part or product thereof shall transfer such carcass or part or product thereof to the department.
Permit application letters should be submitted to:
California Department of Fish and Wildlife
Wildlife & Fisheries Division
Attn: Mountain Lion Program
1416 Ninth Street
Sacramento, CA 95814.