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Mountain Lion Killed in Berkeley

Mountain Lion Killed in Berkeley

On August 31st at about 2:15 am someone called the Berkeley Police to report that a mountain lion was wandering in a residential and commercial area  It was first reported to be in the parking lot of an abandoned pharmacy. The animal then moved when police arrived, winding up in the back yard of someone’s home. Two shots were fired at the animal, but did not kill it. The mountain lion moved into a different yard, where it was shot and killed with a rifle.

An official statement from the Berkeley Police Department said,

“Despite the sensitive nature of this event, we feel confident about the actions taken by the BPD Officers considering the totality of the events, when considering the densely populated area in which the animal was in, the homeless that sleep in the area, the overnight employees who clean businesses and the like, the adjacent schools and the northern Shattuck corridor. BPD believed that this Mountain Lion posed a significant public safety threat. (Source: Berkeleyside.com)

The Berkeley Police statement is correct. It is a densely populated area, except the animal was first noticed at 2:15 am on a Tuesday in a vacant parking lot, next to an empty building. Neither the parking lot nor the building has been used by people for months. No children were in any schools at 2:15 am. Also there are no documented cases of a mountain lion ever attacking a homeless person in the area. Additionally, any early morning cleaning person would have been indoors, and all the shops in the area are too small to have early morning indoor cleaning staff. In other words, the vast majority of people who live in the area were indoors sleeping when the animal was spotted, and it wasn’t near anyone anyway.

The official statement relies on a questionable premise; that a very lost mountain lion was a mortal danger to the public, rather than considering that the wild animal was in danger of being killed by cars or the police. The same flawed notion was used by Oakland Police several months ago to shoot and kill a lost deer that was only about one year old. It was said to be a threat to public safety.

Another article about the mountain lion shooting stated that game wardens don’t carry tranquilizers and that they are said to be unreliable in emergency situations. However, a lost and confused mountain lion in a vacant lot in an area where there are no people on the streets because they are sleeping would actually be a good candidate for tranquilizer guns, if the police carried them (which they do not.)  A rifle was used to kill the animal, and in those conditions it could have easily missed. Rifle bullets can travel very long distances, and a stray rifle bullet could harm or kill a human. Yet the police in this case say they were trying to protect the public.

It took three shots from conventional guns to kill the mountain lion, so why not try a tranquilizer shot or two, so there would be chance the animal could be relocated. The number of mountain lion attacks in California is very small, and they all occur when people are recreating in nature areas that are also mountain lion territory. In other words, mountain lions don’t venture into human dominated areas to hunt humans.

According to Tom Chester’s website, there were no deaths from mountain lion attacks in California from 1910 to 1993.  The ones that did occur after that took place in mountain lion territory, usually involving solo hikers or bike riders. One that was reported as an attack actually has been possibly overturned and could have been a heart attack, followed by a mountain lion eating the corpse. “The speculation that fits the facts best is that Mark had a heart attack while riding his bike, fell off his bike, causing the chain to fall off the sprockets. The cougar then simply scavenged him while he was dead on the ground.”  (Source: tchester.org, Year 2004)

It appears what is happening in these situations when wild animals are killed as an automatic procedure is that the first responders are the police, now always equipped with tranquilizer guns and without knowledge of animal behavior or conservation. The Wildlife and Game people should be first on the scene to assess each wild animal situation to give the animals a chance at surviving their encounters with urban settings.

 

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Barry Lammers

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289 comments

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11:29PM PST on Jan 24, 2012

Sad news, thank you.

8:51PM PDT on Oct 31, 2011

Thats What you get for giving a questionably educated person with limited problem solving abilities that represents the public . They should be cited and fined and forced to go to attend public service to the animal population. If you think the Police are here to protect us== think again . People there is a whole new agenda and were not part of it, be aware be safe ===Peace

3:30AM PDT on Sep 4, 2011

CLEARLY AN INEXCUSABLE, UNFORGIVABLE AND UNNECESSARY KILLING OF A BEAUTIFUL CREATURE WITHOUT LOGICAL THOUGHT OR CARE. ANGELA UK

8:43AM PDT on Sep 2, 2011

As I stated in another post: Cops should not be allowed to carry guns. They are mentally unstable to begin with, and are not competent to handle a firearm.

9:54AM PDT on Jun 4, 2011

The death of this beautiful animal was uncalled for. And they way it was killed also says that the police officers are double unqualifed. Aren't humans supposed to be intelligent? In this case it was absolutely the opposite.

1:29PM PDT on Apr 19, 2011

No valid reason for the lion's death.

1:44AM PST on Nov 25, 2010

This is the most ridiculous excuse I ever heard, just imagine in China every man who carries a gun will be considered dangerous, so do we have to kill the Americans?

1:17PM PST on Nov 18, 2010

All I have to say is..ever heard of a TRANQUILIZER!!! Ignorant schmucks.

1:58AM PDT on Oct 18, 2010

THE ANIMAL WASN'T HURTING ANYONE AT THE TIME. HE COULD HAVE BEEN TRAQUILIZED & relocated to another area. Wildlife people certainly would have helped.THE POLICE NEED TO WAKE UP & GET WITH THE 21ST CENTURY.TRAQUILIZER GUNS SHOULD BE IN EVERY POLICE CAR!!!

3:45PM PDT on Oct 4, 2010

Good God, I thought ALL police forces were equipped with tranquillizer guns. Yes, by all means, provide them. We humans have moved into mountain lion habitat and that is why they are here. It was their home before it was ours. They could have saved and relocated this lion--but maybe the poor cat had nowhere to go.

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