Photo of rescued mountain lion cub.
  Photo Courtesy of Kurt Thomas Hunt
 
TEXT: Rescue and Rehab.

Mountain Lion Rescue and Rehab in California



LEGAL BACKGROUND



On September 6, 2013, California Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 132 into law. This groundbreaking legislation (effective January 1, 2014), protects lions that accidentally wander into human-populated areas. Law Enforcement and Wildlife Officers can only kill a lion if it is posing an imminent threat to human life: exhibiting aggressive behavior towards a person that is not due to the presence of first responders. All other situations must be handled with non-lethal force (capturing, pursuing, anesthetizing, temporarily possessing, temporarily injuring, marking, attaching to or surgically implanting monitoring or recognition devices, providing veterinary care, transporting, hazing, rehabilitating, releasing, or taking no action).

The new law (F&G Code 4801.5) also allows CDFW to partner with qualified individuals, educational institutions, government agencies, or nongovernmental organizations to implement nonlethal procedures on a mountain lion.

Photo of two rescued lion cubs.
Sibling injured, orphaned mountain lion cubs found near San Jose, California, were flown to a new home in Arizona courtesy of a a LightHawk volunteer pilot.

IMPLEMENTATION



Partner organizations will likely be subject to the same requirements currently in place for wildlife rehabilitators in California (Section 679) — an MOU permit which includes wildlife holding limits, documentation of experience, veterinarian sponsorship, record keeping, liability, annual training, and regular facility inspection and maintenance.

Individuals assisting in the field with mountain lion captures may have to meet additional training and certification processes. Facilities willing to open their doors to temporarily house injured and orphaned lions while awaiting transfer to a CDFW-approved rehabilitation facility must meet the housing requirements set forth by the International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council in the Minimum Standards for Wildlife Rehabilitation.


GUIDELINES & RESOURCES



  • Possession and Rehab Law - Barclays Official California Code of Regulations

    Title 14: Natural Resources
     Division 1: Fish and Game Commission & Department
      Subdivision 3: General Regulations
       Chapter 3: Miscellaneous
        Section 679: Possession of Wildlife and Wildlife Rehabilitation

    This portion of California state law outlines the requirements for wildlife rehabilitation facilities.

  • Minimum Standards for Wildlife Rehabilitation

    Published by the International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council and the National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association, and edited by Dr. Erica Miller, the 4th edition of this manual outlines basic minimum standards for housing wildlife. The requirements for mountain lion enclosures have been included here. Contact the Council for the complete publication.

  • CDFW Rehabilitation Website

    To become a permitted wildlife rehabilitator in California or for more information about facilities and requirements, please visit the California Department of Fish and Wildlife's rehab webpage. Additional forms, relevant legal sections, and annual reports are also available on their website.

  • California Mountain Lion Laws

    California Fish and Game Code Sections 4800-4810 are the mountain lion-specific portions of state law. Section 4801.5 deals specifically with partner organizations assisting CDFW with implementing nonlethal procedures on mountain lions in California. If interested in wildlife rescue and rehab, we highly recommend you take the time to become familiar with the law.

  • Nonlethal Measures Explained

    California state law allows nonlethal force to be used on mountain lions to resolve potential public safety incidents. Learn more about what it actually meant by: capturing, pursuing, anesthetizing, temporarily possessing, temporarily injuring, marking, attaching to or surgically implanting monitoring or recognition devices, providing veterinary care, transporting, hazing, rehabilitating, releasing, or taking no action.