California Department Fish and Game wardens did everything possible to try and save a juvenile mountain lion that wandered into a populated Santa Monica neighborhood, but when all else failed, local police shot and killed the cougar.
The lion, a protected species in the state but in no way endangered, had made it to the corner of Second Street and Wilshire Boulevard when the DFG and the Santa Monica Police Department caught up with it. They tried to capture it and then release it into open space. But after the DFG darted it and the Santa Monica police used a pepper ball and a fire hose to keep it contained, the lion began running toward traffic and pedestrians.
“Our hope is always to be able to return wild animals back to their natural habitat,” said DFG Assistant Chief Paul Hamdorf. “However, public safety is our number one priority. We appreciate the cooperation and assistance that the Santa Monica Police provided, and support the decisions that were made in the field.”
The DFG release states that it “is unknown how or why the lion made its way to such a busy urban area.”
Here’s my theory: It’s spring and cub lions are being born. This juvenile lion likely had been on its own for a few months and had been wandering through other lion’s territory and getting its butt kicked by older lions. It was hungry and likely saw the neighborhood pets around that area as a very easy, tasty target.
Young Female Mountain Lion Shot to Death
Police were forced to kill a mountain lion that wandered into the beachfront city of Santa Monica, Calif., this morning after efforts to tranquilize it failed, according to news reports.
The big cat — an 80-pound, 3-year-old male — was killed about 9:15 a.m. PT (12:15 p.m. ET) after it tried to jump a fenced-in courtyard of an office building on 2nd Street after being shot with a tranquilizer dart, NBC Los Angeles reports. Authorities cited concerns for public safety if the mountain lion, also called a cougar, had escaped.
Santa Monica police were joined by state Fish & Game wardens, city animal control officers and firefighters. Besides the tranquilizer, water hoses and pepper-ball rounds did not subdue the cat, according to a police news release.
A startled janitor spotted it about 5:45 a.m. PT. Initial reportsindicated it was believed to be a juvenile female.
“With the Santa Monica Mountains nearby, we see all kinds of critters,” said police Lt. Calisse Lindsey. “Raccoons, deer — it’s amazing what I’ve seen in last few years. It happens, but never a mountain lion in a building.”