This summer, California’s young dispersing cougars had it rough. In July, officials shot a juvenile lion that was hiding up a tree after it wandered into the town of San Luis Obispo. A month later in August, police officers took a shotgun to female lion near the UC Berkeley campus. California Department of Fish & Game (CDFG) wardens killed a few more lions along the way in other parts of the state, including an eight-month-old kitten they somehow deemed a public safety threat. While Gilroy police officers did have some luck in scaring away a couple young lions with humane pepperballs, it was still becoming more and more depressingly apparent that CDFG would never consider policies to tranquilize and relocate mountain lions. But perhaps we spoke too soon?
Last week, in a refreshing change of events, CDFG Warden Kevin Brennan tranquilized a lion in a Devore (San Bernardino County) neighborhood that was spotted lounging in a tree, and reportedly released the cat back into the foothills. In the past, responding officers who sedated mountain lions typically ended up euthanizing the animals offsite. Brennan could have easily chosen this option or used the age-old ridiculous excuse “there was a school nearby” to justify shooting the lion in the tree, but instead he took the humane alternative and gave the animal a second chance… and a free ride back into its habitat.
Twenty years ago California citizens took a stand and made it illegal to kill mountain lions for fun (via Proposition 117). It appears now, finally, the message might be getting through to CDFG that the public doesn’t want lions killed for no reason either. The species’ Specially Protected Mammal status in California should also cover young lions that are simply searching for wild habitat.
Please take a moment to contact CDFG to say thank you, and encourage them to use these non-lethal management techniques from now on…Mtn. Lion Foundation
Mountain lion captured in Devore, California
12:32 PM PDT on Thursday, September 16, 2010
Game wardens have tranquilized a mountain lion in Devore and are taking the animal deeper into the San Bernardino Mountains after it caused a stir this morning by prowling outside a house near a school bus stop.
“He’s in the back of my pickup truck … sleeping it off,” said Kevin Brennan, of the California Department of Fish & Game. “We’ll just be returning him up the hill.”
The big cat was first noticed about 6:30 a.m. in a tree outside a house along Marion Lane in Devore, a foothill community beside Interstate 15 between northwestern San Bernardino and the Cajon Pass. The resident summoned deputies who called state Fish & Game wardens.
At 10:20 a.m., the gregarious critter was dosed with tranquilizer darts.
“It took a couple of shots,” said Brennan. “He didn’t go down on the first dart.”
The young male — estimated to be less than 2-½ years old — caused no major trouble. He merely was being a mountain lion, but was too close to town and children, Brennan said.