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Thursday, 6 December 2012

A Question of Public Safety


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A mountain lion cub seen by a half Moon Bay, California resident in his neighbor's yard. This cub and a second one, possibly its sibling, were shot and killed by California Department of Fish and Game wardens that night: photo by Mark Andermahr, 1 December 2012
 


Wandering into a Half Moon Bay neighborhood, two young mountain lions took shelter beneath a porch.

They may have roamed there from a nearby state park. They may have had a run-in with another lion that cast them out of his territory. They may have had a disease that gave them what officials later described as a glazed stare and an uncharacteristic indifference to the humans trying to shoo them away.

If any of those questions are answered, it won't be until results of a necropsy are analyzed in about three weeks. The lions, which weighed 25 to 30 pounds, were fatally shot by a game warden trying to avert a possible threat to public safety, state Department of Fish and Game officials said Tuesday.

"It was absolutely a last resort," said Janice Mackey, a department spokeswoman.

Tim Dunbar, director of the Sacramento-based Mountain Lion Foundation, said the action was unwarranted.

"It's very hard to understand why Fish and Game thought these guys were a threat," he said.

Burleigh Murray Ranch State Park has a thriving mountain lion population and it's not uncommon for local residents to see big cats in their neighborhood.  But unlike others, the two that were killed Saturday stuck around the area for many hours, triggering a resident's call Friday evening to the San Mateo County sheriff's office.

The resident was told to stay indoors, giving the cats ample opportunity to leave.
      
On Saturday morning they were still there, moving occasionally from the porch to bushes next door. Fish and Game wardens arrived in the afternoon, concerned about the animals' odd behavior.
 
"Usually you give them a way out and they're gone in the morning," Mackey said. "They had a very abnormal look and didn't display a fear of humans, like most cats."

The Mountain Lion Foundation's Dunbar said the cats may have been awaiting the return of their mother. Judging from their weight, he said they were still kittens under nearly constant maternal supervision, rather than more independent 9-month-old juveniles, as Fish and Game has estimated. 

"They wouldn't even be thinking about leaving their mother prior to 12 months," he said.

Officers considered an attempt at tranquilizing them but rejected it.

Mackey said the drugs seldom take effect instantly, and the spooked lions could have fled deeper into the neighborhood.

"They could have run a mile or two," she said. "They could have hidden under someone else's house and nobody would even know where they were."

-- Los Angeles Times, 4 December 2012





Mountain Lion (Puma concolor) cubs: photo by Ami 211 (Anne-Marie Kalus), 27 May 2012

 

Mountain Lion
(Puma concolor) cub with mother: photo by Ami 211 (Anne-Marie Kalus), 27 May 2012


 

Mountain Lion (Puma concolor) mother and cub: photo by Ami 211 (Anne-Marie Kalus), 27 May 2012


 

Mountain Lion (Puma concolor) mother with cub: photo by Ami 211 (Anne-Marie Kalus), 27 May 2012




Mountain Lion
(Puma concolor) mother and cub: photo by Ami 211 (Anne-Marie Kalus), 27 May 2012

 


Mountain Lion
(Puma concolor) mother and cub: photo by Ami 211 (Anne-Marie Kalus), 27 May 2012

 


Mountain Lion
(Puma concolor) cubs playing: photo by Ami 211 (Anne-Marie Kalus), 27 May 2012

15 comments:

vanderleun said...

Sad, but cougars will attack and kill people .... and with some regularity.

It's all oooh why kill the big kitty until some mountain biker's body or injured or killed kid shows up.

Check it out.

http://www.cougarinfo.org/attacks3.htm

http://www.cougarinfo.org/attacks4.htm

"Cute" and "Adorable" and even "Nobel" does not yet trump dangerous.

TC said...

Vanderleun,

I would beg to differ as to the dangers posed by wild animals like these straying into the neat and tidy spaces made and controlled by humans. In these hills there are deer, and they too are regarded as a menace by some. The deer are sometimes followed down out of the hills by mountain lions. Any excuse to shoot and kill will do.

These latest victims were threatening nobody, unless one could be said to feel threatened by the fright and confusion wild creatures experience when they hazard the dangers of "civilization".

Humans scare me a lot more, with their worries and their fears and their murderous weapons -- especially guns and cars.

Memorial for Majesty.

(By the way, excuse my English-speaking ways, but surely your "Nobel" is an unintended slip?)

Nin Andrews said...

Oh, that's so sad. You would think they could have caught them and set them free again. I was always terrified of them as a kid, but wanted so badly to see one. And I never did--see one, that is. My mom used to say we sound like thunder to them--we are so loud and clumsy. And yes, mountain bikers are targeted by dogs and mountain lions bc the posture you are in on the bike is a posture that = aggression to animals.

TC said...

Nin, from what I've learned over the years, your mother was a remarkably canny person -- possessed of the sort of mother wisdom that binds rather than breaks, and makes it possible for us to remember that nothing that breathes is ever completely alone in the world.

And yes, the animals that were killed could have been trapped and captured quite easily; there are people who know how to do this.

Something tells me that Puma concolor hails from a realm in which there were no mountain bikes... but mountain bikes may well outlast them.

TC said...

From the San Mateo Times news story on the incident:

"California wildlife rescue expert Jay Holcomb said that, although the wardens had to weigh the public safety issue carefully, trapping the animals would not have been difficult.

"'Let's face it, these are cubs. They're easily capturable,' said Holcomb, former head of the International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council and current director of International Bird Rescue. 'You can go to the store and buy some chicken and they'll be on it in a second. It's a no-brainer.'"

vanderleun said...

Well yes it is a "sleep" of the tung. It is well and truly said that "If you want a cupple of komments state a fac, but if you want a tousand kammets missspell a wurd."

On the other issue, of which your view was made amply kleer with the odd dozen sweet cuddly cougar shots, it is also well and truly said that "Nothing is impossible for him that doth not have to do the work." or rather "No wild animal that cannot be safely and sweetly tranquilized and taken away while unconscious to those that don't have to actually handle them."

Now, if memory serves, you live (or once lived) somewhere around Bolinas. There should be ample opportunity for you to extend your love and care for ye olde cougars in the surrounding green dream. Perhaps a few chants from Snyder's Turtle Island will cool them out.

TC said...

The people who do animal rescues are not theorists or armchair experts. It's a hands-on job.

"Rescue" means saving, not killing.

The superior grace and intelligence of feline species is proven by the sad quality of human argument, particularly when there is the rapid declension to ad hominem levels of pseudo-discourse.

(Please disconnect me from your fantasy of who I am, thanks very much.)

Susan Kay Anderson said...

My life and all that it is
the life of grooming
no matter what
this is a comfort
take extra care.

It is sweet to lick her fur.
I find myself there. The family tree.
I love it most. She disappears
underneath it all. Hollow honey
shadow and specific species
lost in the cul-de-sac too
connected elbows breath teeth.

Wooden Boy said...

"They had a very abnormal look and didn't display a fear of humans..."

Fearlessness in the face of humankind doesn't make sense. There's plenty to be afraid of, whatever species you belong to.

There isn't a valid argument to make for the killing of these creatures and no amount of orthographic mayhem is going to swing it for me.

Susan Kay Anderson said...

I see someone enjoys
Zwetschgenkuchen
an indescribable
taste poetry close
poetry
or something near

not the lost kittens
nobody can save

despite the plums
cut into diamonds

follow the recipe
it won't turn out
the same I'm here

for your disappointment
for the ones
who have not tasted it
for the ones who have
at the
hungry place
at the edge

Hazen said...

A recent study —http://men.webmd.com/news/20060728/guns-up-testosterone-male-aggression —shows that when men handle firearms (A), their testosterone levels rise significantly; and (B), after handling the weapons, the men become more aggressive than the control group, and remain so for some time. Police officers, by extrapolation, fall naturally under the rubric of those who pack heat and who are thus prone to aggression. These ‘security forces’ daily brutalize people without cause, using pepper spray, mace, tasers, and billy clubs, and are quick to kill even when the situation doesn’t warrant deadly force. Game wardens and park rangers are also categorized as ‘security forces,’ all of them weaponized with the aforementioned devices for the control, suppression, or elimination of life-forms they judge to be extraneous. If human life can be treated with utter disregard, is it any wonder that animals, wild or domesticated, can be dispatched so quickly?

Sandra said...

we are not ready for the sudden...yes

TC said...

"These ‘security forces’ daily brutalize people without cause, using pepper spray, mace, tasers, and billy clubs, and are quick to kill even when the situation doesn’t warrant deadly force. Game wardens and park rangers are also categorized as ‘security forces,’ all of them weaponized with the aforementioned devices for the control, suppression, or elimination of life-forms they judge to be extraneous. If human life can be treated with utter disregard, is it any wonder that animals, wild or domesticated, can be dispatched so quickly?"

You can say that again.

But then again... are we not speaking here of the "normal" mindset of this great nation?

A people not good at very many things mind you, but quite adept at this.

Elmo St. Rose said...

google cougars in all the states in which
they are not supposed to be present
and you will see they have been
seen or found dead or killed in
most states...
"If a wild beast enters a human
habitation...it is a visitation"
To paraphrase Maimonides by memory.

Cougar on Long Island

Maimonides just left it at that

TC said...

Maimonides is just all right by me.