Target: California Department of Fish and Game, Santa Monica Police Department
Goal: Formulate a strategy for capturing mountain lions that respects public safety and animal welfare.
Recently, Santa Monica police officers and wardens from the Department of Fish and Game attempted to capture a mountain lion that had wandered into town. After shooting it with tranquilizers, rubber bullets and a fire hose, the crew fatally shot the mountain lion to death. Though public safety should always be a concern for both organizations, they could have handled the situation with a bit more care. Both need to come up with a comprehensive plan for dealing with incidents like these that respects both animal and human safety.
The National Park Service has been monitoring 10 mountain lions in the area but the one that was recently killed was one that they were unaware of. Experts believe that the animal was probably trying to find its own territory when it began wandering down Arizona Avenue and was reported by citizens in the area. Biologists with the Park Service note that young mountain lions are especially curious, exploring their boundaries and finding new areas. Authorities say that they were acting in the best interests of the public but some groups, including the local chapter of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the group In Defense of Animals, believe that the mountain lion should have been handled with more patience and care. They say that the animal obviously would have become distressed after being shot with tranquilizers and a fire hose.
Rapid development has increasingly forced these animals out of their natural habitat and animal advocates point out that the land belongs to both humans and mountain lions. In the past 100 years, there have been 16 mountain lion attacks. Only six of them were fatal, two of which were due to rabies. The Department of Fish and Game should work with local police units by training them on how to react calmly and with due diligence in these situations. Public safety is of course important, but protecting animal life is also in the best interest of everyone.
Mr. Charlton H. Bonham, Director of the California Department of Fish and Game,
There is no denying that the recent appearance of a mountain lion in Santa Monica was a delicate and tense situation. We understand that that local police forces and your department must ultimately act to protect public safety. But some animal advocacy groups believe that the situation was mishandled and we agree. The mountain lion was shot with tranquilizers, rubber bullets and a fire hose before finally being fatally shot. Is it that surprising that a mountain lion would act erratic or distressed after being being shot at and harassed? The National Park Service points out that young mountain lions are bound to wander off and explore new territories. Despite expansive development over the last century, there have only been 16 mountain lion attacks, six of them fatal.
Public safety is important, but seeing an animal killed is not in anyone’s best interests. We ask that you come up with a comprehensive plan for dealing with future incidents like this one. Perhaps you can work closer with the National Park Service to more closely monitor mountain lions in the area, as they were unaware of the one that appeared recently. We ask that you provide local police units with the training they need to handle these situations calmly and effectively. Please come up with a plan that respects both animal and human welfare.
[Your Name Here]