|Mountain lion killed May 22, 2012|
June 25, 2012. Santa Monica mountain lion task force meeting. This task force was formed after the May 22, 2012 shooting of a mountain lion in Santa Monica. The purpose of the task force is to access what went right, what went wrong, what could be done differently in the future. There were about 23 people in the meeting. Here are the people I remember. Feel free to help me out with names.
- Head of Santa Monica Animal Control Mike Graham.
- California Department of Fish & Game Captain Daniel Sforza
- California Department of Fish & Game warden
- State Park Ranger – Has tranquilized mountain lions before, very knowledgeable and experienced.
- Chief of Police Jacqueline A. Seabrooks – she ran the meeting
- Santa Monica Police Officers
- Fish & Game liaison
- Madelaine Bernstein, SPCALA, prosecutor, attorney, works with Fish & Game
- Ali Crumpacker from HSUS Fund for Animals in Ramona
- Dr. Kenneth Jones of Kenneth Jones Animal Hospital, veterinarian, wildlife expert
- Dr. Jennifer Conrad of the Paw Project, veterinarian, big cat expert
- Dr. ? Volunteer veterinarian with Santa Monica Animal Control
- City Controller
- Professor from local University, wildlife expert
- Kevin McGown SM City
- Mary Cummins, wildlife rehabilitator
- Jack Carone, Communications Director, In Defense of Animals
First they gave us a video report of what happened based on 911 calls, communications, witnesses… They will be posting the report on the City’s YouTube channel and websites. This is a brief summary.
Mountain lion was 43 kg (96 lbs) 2-3 year old male. The first reports came in around 5:45 a.m. The lion was shot at 9:15 a.m. The first report didn’t sound real. Caller stated it was merely a “big cat.” Caller didn’t speak English very well. They played the 911 calls to us. Second call came in minutes later which confirmed there was a puma. Police were sent out to investigate.
By 7:30 a.m. Fish & Game, Santa Monica Animal Control, Santa Monica Fire Department were there along with Santa Monica Police. Police contacted Santa Monica airport to tell the tower to tell media helicopters to go higher because the sound could frighten the lion. Sirens were turned off on emergency vehicles.
There was an inner and outer perimeter set up to protect the first responders and public. People were ordered to stay indoors. There were still 30 members of public on each corner. They blocked off the entire block of Fourth Street.
Fish & Game darted the animal around 8:15. Lion didn’t react immediately to the dart. Then it jumped over a planter and was going toward the front of the court yard toward the glass doors. Water was supposedly sprayed over the glass doors to let the lion know it was a solid surface. It continued to approach. They shot pepper bullets in the area of the lion but supposedly did not shoot the lion. The lion continued to approach the front doors. They shot it before it approached the front door. Lion then went to the back of the enclosure and died from the bullet wounds. Necropsy report shows void intestines.
We then went around the room introducing ourselves and stating what we hoped to accomplish through this meeting. We all hoped to be able to work together to keep wildlife from having to be killed in the future.
Fish & Game warden stated paraphrased “There are 300 wardens for all of California. We use rifles to shoot darts which contain telazol.”
The Park Ranger was very informative. Unfortunately I forgot his name. He said there are 22 mountain lions in the local area, two are near Santa Monica. They have come all the way down to the edge of the City before but generally go back up. This was a young male mountain lion trying to find new territory. After he got in the City he couldn’t see the mountains and find his way back. He is descended from lions in Ventura. His genetics would have greatly helped the Santa Monica lions who have been inbreeding for years.
94% of a lion’s diet is deer mixed with some coyote, badger and raccoons. They have been using the equestrian tunnel at the 118 fwy and Rocky Peak exit to come to the Santa Monica mountain range.We need more wildlife tunnels and passages to allow wildlife to travel. Unfortunately there are not enough funds.
The Fish & Game liaison person gave a DVD to to the City. It tells First Responders what to do when they encounter different species of wildlife. The basic wardens use the rifle dart guns with telazol. Some wardens such as Warden Marty Wall have advanced training and superior dart guns and drugs.
Dr. Jennifer Conrad stated that the rifle dart guns shoot the dart very fast and hard. Park Ranger confirmed. She uses CO2 blow darts which don’t hit the animal as hard. Then the veterinarians, wardens and Park Ranger talked about the best way to dart wildlife. The Park Ranger seems to have better equipment and know more about darting that the Fish & Game wardens. The Park Ranger has been helping with the mountain lion study. They dart and collar mountain lions. He seems quite experienced. The warden stated that tranquilizing wildlife is not the main duty of wardens. They give the basic training then give basic dart gun and drugs to the wardens.
We then went around the room again to state what we hoped to take away from the meeting and accomplish. The City talked about a telephone tree to get all related parties in the loop.They talked about maybe writing a MOU so they can legally use experts such as Dr. Conrad. Fish & Game talked about maybe making a MOU to use local experts. I noted that I already have a MOU with Fish & Game. Dr. Jones and Dr. Conrad are already on my permit. They have the same powers that I have to rescue and rehab native wildlife. I told them I’d send them my MOU to see what we are allowed to do legally. Hopefully there will be some follow up. The City of Santa Monica instructed us to tell the public what happened in the meeting. I am doing that with this note.
Mary Cummins of Animal Advocates is a wildlife rehabilitator licensed by the California Department of Fish and Game and the USDA. Mary Cummins is also a licensed real estate appraiser in Los Angeles, California.
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