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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.