CAL SHOOTS & KILL TWO LION KITTENS. LTR & EMAILS---PLEASE PROTEST!!!
- Director Charlton Bonham
CDFG Office of the Director
1416 Ninth Street, 12th Floor
Sacramento, CA 95814
On Saturday, December 1st, the California Department of Fish and Game shot and killed two mountain lion kittens in Half Moon Bay.
I'm very shocked by this incident! Your department's actions were unjustified, unacceptable for a state protected mammal.
There is no excuse for this lack of knowledge by the department about mountain lions.
1. Statements released by CDFG are not consistent with basic mountain lion biology and behavior.
The 25 to 30 pound cats were spotted on Friday and officers reportedly tried to shoo them towards Burleigh Murray Ranch State Park - located just half a mile east of town.
The park also connects to the San Francisco State Fish and Game Refuge to the north and Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve to the south.
When the siblings were seen again Saturday huddled in a backyard on the edge of town, CDFG wardens felt they had no choice but to kill them.
A spokeswoman for the department said tranquilizing even small lions is too risky and could put the public in danger if the animals try to flee.
ONE OF THE TWO KITTENS KILLED ON SATURDAY.
Additional criticism arose after the department also speculated the cats were nine-months-old and might have been pushed out of their territory by an older lion.
Both of these predictions do not match up with basic mountain lion biology, nor are they consistent with the estimated weight of the cats. A thirty pound lion is closer to half of the age guesstimated by the department and is far too young for a lion to have its own territory.
Mountain lion kittens are dependent on their mother until they reach approximately 18 months of age. During this first year and a half of life, a mother lion will frequently stash her kittens in a safe place while she is off hunting.
Young lions are unable to protect themselves or outrun a predator , and so survival relies on the ability to stay still, quiet, and camouflaged in the brush until mom returns.
CDFG reported the two kittens did not run away when wardens approached and appeared to have blank stares on their faces.
This natural instinct of trying to stay undetected was unfortunately interpreted as being accustomed to people and an immediate threat to public safety... which justified shooting the pair.
2. Non-lethal options to capture the mountain lions were available and should ALWAYS be considered first.
California wildlife rescue expert Jay Holcomb said that, although the wardens had to weigh the public safety issue carefully, trapping the animals would not have been difficult.
"Let's face it, these are cubs. They're easily capturable," said Holcomb, former head of the International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council and current director of International Bird Rescue.
"You can go to the store and buy some chicken and they'll be on it in a second. It's a no-brainer.
In addition to a simple baited cage, catch poles, net guns, and tranquilizers are also non-lethal options the Department should employ.
A spokesman for the Peninsula Humane Society & SPCA, which handles animal control in San Mateo County, said wardens put in a request Saturday for a pole syringe and tranquilizing drug but didn't follow through.
Non-lethal wildlife policies need to be implemented today!
Wildlife rescue groups and veterinarians throughout the state are ready and willing to assist CDFG with mountain lion calls.
I urge you to utilize these (free!) resources for the benefit of California's wildlife.
3. California is past due on revising its public safety wildlife guidelines and needs to draft a policy for dealing with injured and orphaned mountain lions, too.
The law authorizes CDFG to deal with dangerous animals but does not give them permission to kill kittens out of convenience.
The new policy should include:
- Non-lethal procedures for resolving public safety wildlife incidents.
- Changing the Department's internal position to allow the relocation of mountain lions, and the rehabilitation and eventual release of young or injured individuals.
- The creation of a database of wildlife professionals willing to help tranquilize, capture, temporarily hold, transport, collar, provide veterinary care, and/or release mountain lions at no cost to the department.
- Mandatory training for wardens in the use of non-lethal drugs and capture methods.
These methods are currently being used by wildlife agencies in other states. It's time for California to catch up!