Taxidermy mountain lion exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History.
  Photo Courtesy of Andrea SimplySchmoopie
 
TEXT:  Educational Displays.

Mountain Lion Educational Displays in California



LEGAL BACKGROUND



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.

Photo of young girl and boy looking at taxidermy lion.
Mountain Lions exhibit created by MLF and Effie Yeaw Nature Center in Carmichael, CA.

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:

  1. The carcass or carcass part or product is prepared or being prepared for display, exhibition, or storage, for a bona fide scientific or educational purpose, at a nonprofit museum or government-owned facility generally open to the public or at an educational institution, including a public or private postsecondary institution.
  2. The mountain lion was taken in California consistent with the requirements of this chapter and any other applicable law.
  3. The department has authorized the possession of the carcass or carcass part or product for the purposes of this paragraph.


OBTAINING A MOUNTAIN LION POSSESSION PERMIT



California Code of Regulations, Title 14, Section 251.4


(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:

  1. any person who can demonstrate that the mountain lion, part or product thereof, was in his possession on or before June 6, 1990; or
  2. a nonprofit museum or government-owned facility generally open to the public, or an educational institution, for display, exhibition, or storage, for a bona fide scientific or educational purpose as determined by the department. Permits shall be made available to department employees for inspection upon request and may be revoked by the department for failure to comply with the terms of the permit, this section, or Section 4800 of the Fish and Game Code. Any person issued a permit or a tag from the department for a mountain lion, or part or product thereof, prior to January 1, 2014, shall not be required to obtain a new permit, provided he maintains and makes available his existing permit or tag upon request of a department employee.

(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:

  1. Full name of the person requesting a permit. If an entity is requesting a permit, the request shall be made on official letterhead with an original signature.
  2. Physical address where mountain lion carcass or part or product thereof shall be located.
  3. Description of mountain lion carcass or part or product thereof, subject to the permit.
  4. Description of how the mountain lion carcass, or part or product thereof shall be uniquely identified by the applicant pursuant to subdivision (c).
  5. Description of how the mountain lion carcass or part or product thereof shall be used and the anticipated length of time for use.

(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.

Photo of young girl looking at mountain lion skull.

(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.


(e) Disposition.

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.