A new inquiry by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the author and sponsor of Assembly Bill 8 will allow the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) to tailor their response to the specific circumstances of a depredation incident,providing a wider variety of management tools and greater protection for livestock, people and mountain lions.
Since AB 8 was first introduced in December 2016, Mr. Bloom has continued to work closely with the expert leadership at the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) to develop potential amendments to the legislation.
The evening before the bill was first to be heard in committee, April 24, 2017, in an exciting and positive turn of events, CDFW committed to addressing growing concerns about the human contributions to wildlife conflict. CDFW has pledged to spend the next 60 to 90 days to explore the breadth and depth of their current authority to more effectively resolve such conflicts. Read Director Bonham's Letter.
This commitment by the Department places those of us who value California mountain lions right where we would have been had we passed this legislation: commencing a public process to explore the nature and characteristics of a variety of conflicts, assess the need for change, and determine the variety of tools that are available to CDFW to most effectively address specific situations. Read Assemblymember Bloom's letter to MLF.
We applaud CDFW Director Charlton Bonham for taking the time to carefully consider options as California's human population continues to expand into wildlife habitat, and herald Assemblymember Bloom for giving substantive voice to the worries of many Californians over the growing loss of wildlife habitat, genetic isolation of animal populations, and losses to depredation and road kills, rodenticides, and other threats to our native species.
Given CDFW's commitment, Assemblymember Bloom opted to pull AB 8 from today's scheduled hearing in the Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee, and will hold the bill in abeyance until the inquiry by the Department is completed. Because we are in the first year of a two-year session, AB 8 may be revisited should CDFW find that their current latitude is not sufficient for conservation of the mountain lions protected in their trust under existing statute.
To those of you who so graciously took the time to express your support, thank you! Your overwhelming response continues to be valuable and persuasive. We will be turning to you again to assess your specific needs and concerns as we move forward. Your voice will be needed!
We hope that the CDFW inquiry will allow CDFW to:
Better assess the underlying causes of specific depredations.
Provide suggestions for avoiding future conflicts, and
Offer alternative deterrent actions short of lethal control.
And importantly, this bill would give CDFW the latitude to consider the interests of the mountain lion population in question prior to issuing a permit to kill a lion.
California residents, you can help!
You can send a letter to decision makers during the CDFW inquiry using the form below urging their support for mountain lion conservation.
Be sure to write your own message. It doesn't have to be long - just a few sentences in support of solutions to depredation conflicts that do not require killing mountain lions. Some talking points to give you ideas are provided below the letter form.
Letters from California residents will be sent forward via U.S. mail to decision makers as the process proceeds, and may be sent to legislators if the bill is revived. Letters sent from outside of California will be held and sent to the Governor when the time is right.
CDFW should have the ability to better understand and assess the underlying causes of specific depredations and to suggest non-lethal tools to avoid future conflicts as an alternative to a depredation permit.
CDFW should consider the value of the mountain lion population in question prior to issuing a depredation permit.
Thousands of mountain lions have been killed through depredation permits in California: 100 lions in 2016 alone and many times the wrong lion is killed.
Poor animal husbandry practices used for protecting livestock in lion territories is a common underlying cause of depredation and can increase the frequency of further conflict.
Necropsy reports from lions killed in 2016 verified that only 40% of the lions showed evidence of having preyed on domestic animals. This means the odds of killing the wrong lion on a depredation permit could be greater than 50%.
Mountain lions are one of the last remaining native large carnivores on our landscapes and they help keep a healthy balance of wildlife populations like deer and coyotes. Ecosystems depend on apex predators like the mountain lion.
Habitat fragmentation and wildlife corridor disruption are making it more and more difficult for mountain lions to find territory that does not come into contact with humans and their livestock. It's up to us to use responsible livestock management techniques that keep both lions and livestock safe.
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However you choose to contribute, you help to give mountain lions a voice. Thank you!
About the Mountain Lion Foundation
The Mountain Lion Foundation, founded in 1986, is a national nonprofit organization protecting mountain lions and their habitat.
We believe that mountain lions are in peril.
Our nation is on the verge of destroying this apex species upon which whole ecosystems depend. Hunting mountain lions is morally unjustified, and killing lions to prevent conflicts is ineffective and dangerous.
There is a critical need to know more about the biology, behavior, and ecology of mountain lions, and governments should base decisions upon truthful science, valid data, and the highest common good. Conserving critical lion habitat is essential.