When mountain lions cross paths with presidents …
By Mike Drago/Editor
2:37 PM on Tue., May. 10, 2011
Sometimes, game wardens or police officers must kill a mountain lion. Occasionally, the President of the United States drops into the Lone Star State for a rare visit.
When both happen on the same day, in the same place, conspiracy theorists and press release writers (and bloggers) get to work linking unlinked events.
So, according to a press release just in from Texas Parks and Wildlife, a 125-pound female mountain lion was shot to death in El Paso today, “only hours before President Obama’s scheduled arrival at this border city.”
The release says authorities twice tried to tranquilize the animal, but it led them on a “wild chase through central El Paso.” The apparently harrowing chain of events ended with officers from the El Paso police and the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission shooting the animal. Read the full TP&W release after the jump.
For the record, Gov. Rick Perry was nowhere to be seen.
Subject: TPWD Media Advisory: Mountain lion shot prior to Obama El Paso visit
Media Contacts: Mike Cox, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
May 10, 2011
Mountain Lion Tranquilized, Shot in Downtown El Paso
EL PASO – Only hours before President Obama’s scheduled arrival at this border city, a mountain lion that authorities first had tried to tranquilize led law enforcement officers, a Texas Parks and Wildlife Department game warden captain and city animal control officers on a wild chase through central El Paso that ended with the animal being shot and killed.
The mountain lion, a female estimated to weigh 125 pounds, was first seen on railroad tracks near downtown around 8:30 a.m. by Union Pacific employees. They contacted El Paso’s animal control unit, which began looking for the cat. A short time later, a passerby saw the animal enter the parking garage of a state office building at 401 E. Franklin, where TPWD game wardens have their offices along with several other government agencies.
Once the animal had been cornered in the garage, a Texas Department of Health veterinarian shot it with a tranquilizer dart. But before the drug could take full effect, it jumped from the second floor of the garage back onto the street, heading north out of downtown with multiple agencies in hot pursuit, including game warden Capt. Robert Newman, city animal control and others.
Passing through a school yard, the big cat ran about a half-mile north to H&H Car Wash at 701 E. Yandell Dr., where Newman and other officers evacuated several customers and lowered the business’s vehicle security gate to trap the mountain lion inside. The animal eventually lay down, but it did not lose consciousness so the veterinarian shot it with a second tranquilizer dart.
Despite that injection, the mountain lion took off and hit the fence, finding a space it was able to crawl through. Since it appeared about to escape again, two officers — one from El Paso Police Department and one from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission – shot and killed the animal shortly before 10:30 a.m. The carcass will go to city animal control facilities, and there will eventually be a necropsy analysis done.
The captain said the incident ended about two and a half hours before President Obama was scheduled to arrive in the West Texas city.
Capt. Newman noted that the Rio Grande is only about a mile from the incident area, and that the Franklin Mountains are also nearby. He said there are occasional reports of mountain lions within the city limits, and that three or four years ago a TPWD game warden shot and killed a mountain lion in a west side neighborhood that backed up to the mountain range.
TPWD has mountain lion response procedures in place to cover various scenarios, and staff trained and prepared to respond in situations like the one that occurred today.
General information about mountain lions in Texas, including what people can do if they encounter a mountain lion, is on the TPWD website.