Santa Monica Mountain Lion Shooting Leads to Policy Changes
At the end of May, a three-year-old mountain lion who wandered into a courtyard in Santa Monica, Calif. was shot and killed by authorities, sparking outrage from animal advocates who called for an investigation into the way the situation was handled.
Critics, including In Defense of Animals (IDA) and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los Angeles (spcaLA) believe the situation was rushed and mishandled and that deadly force should only be used as a last resort. At the time, authorities used pepper balls, a fire hose and a tranquilizer gun, while a news chopper circled overhead adding to the chaos.
After holding a meeting last week with representatives from the Department of Fish and Game, the National Park Service, the spcaLA, City Hall and veterinarians to discuss possible solutions, the Santa Monica Police Department announced that it will be changing its policies and protocols when it comes to dealing with wild animals.
The police department plans on implementing a system to notify wildlife experts and provide training to first responders, in addition to obtaining equipment that will aid in wildlife capture.
“I think that the exchange of ideas was good and I hope that the suggestions and offers of help and assistance are all actually followed up,” said Jack Carone, Communications director of IDA.
Authorities also want to work on ideas that will help keep wild animals out of urban areas and discussed the possibility of creating a crossing near the Ventura Highway, according to the Santa Monica Daily Press.
While no one can say for certain what the mountain lion was doing that courtyard, officials believe he was in search of new territory. Unfortunately, freeways, such as the Ventura Highway, and other development are blocking their paths and leaving them with fewer and fewer options for establishing themselves without becoming restricted to certain areas or running into people.
A DNA test lead biologists to believe the mountain lion who was shot was the offspring of a cat known as Puma-12, the only mountain lion known to have successfully crossed the Ventura Highway.
While some concerns were raised about current regulations getting in the way of helping wildlife, such as the rule that Department of Fish and Game officials are the only ones allowed to tranquilize an animal, as opposed to a volunteer veterinarian, long-term solutions are being addressed that will keep both wild animals and residents safe.
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