Animal advocates are calling for an investigation after a mountain lion was shot and killed by authorities in Santa Monica, Calif., this week.
The mountain lion was first spotted before 6 a.m. walking along Arizona Avenue and was then discovered by a janitor who saw him in an office building’s courtyard, according to the LA Times.
Santa Monica police officers and state Department of Fish and Game wardens were notified and cordoned off the area before they attempted to subdue him by taking repeated shots with a tranquilizer gun, which only hit him once, in addition to using nonlethal bullets and a fire hose, all while a news chopper circled overhead.
“Basically, they agitated and frightened a cornered cat before they killed her,” Bernstein said. “Hosing a mountain lion down and then shooting (it) with pepper balls only served to make her more frenzied. Deadly force should be used only as a last resort. The citizens and wildlife of California deserve better,” said Madeline Bernstein, president of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los Angeles.
Some residents are defending the decision to kill the mountain lion, with the stance that authorities had the best interest of public safety in mind, while others are saddened and angered by the incident and are calling for an investigation into the decision and want to see wildlife policies changed.
“What was the rush?” asked Bill Dyer, a regional director for In Defense of Animals. “They should have taken their time. This land belongs to the animals, too. This is not just our land.”
No one knows exactly what the mountain lion was doing in the area in the first place, but authorities suspect the three-year-old was roaming to find his own territory, before accidentally finding himself in a city. The National Park Service believes there are 10 mountain lions in the Santa Monica area, who they’ve been monitoring, but the one who killed wasn’t among those who were known.
“These young guys are looking for a home of their own,” said Jeff Sikich, a biologist with the National Park Service. “At this age, they are testing their boundaries and establishing their home range away from other males.”
As other reports are noting, from 1890 and 2007 there have only been 16 mountain lion attacks involving people in the state, according to the Department of Fish and Game. Only six of the attacks were fatal and two of those fatalities were due to rabies.
Were authorities too hasty to kill the mountain lion? Should they have angered him less and given the tranquilizer more time to kick in? Should law enforcement agencies provide more training for dealing with situations involving domestic animals and wildlife?
Photo credit: Thinkstock