On Friday, July 13th, California Assembly Bill 1784 - authorizing scientific research on mountain lions in California - was signed by Governor Jerry Brown, making the bill a law. AB 1784, introduced by Assembly Member Bill Monning, is the culmination of work that occurred over more than a year by the Mountain Lion Foundation and other concerned parties to restore lion research after the California Department of Fish and Game suddenly decided at the beginning of 2011 that there was no legal statute allowing them to authorize research on mountain lions.
These crucial research projects are helping us better understand the health of the species and to identify and protect the critical habitat and wildlife corridors upon which lions depend.
While MLF wanted to see these projects continue, the protection of lions is our top priority and we are well aware that not all studies titled "research" are in the best interest of the mountain lions. For example, researchers in other states are conducting studies to see what happens to deer when most of the lions in a particular area are suddenly killed off. Sport hunting is also considered to be a form of scientific research in many western states. It was difficult to write an amendment that would evaluate all projects, prohibit those that might harm a lion, and to still allow those necessary projects that truly help to protect California's lions.
Just as Proposition 117 was a landmark initiative in 1990 to protect mountain lions from sport hunters, AB 1784 is a groundbreaking step in authorizing humane scientific research. Among other things, it explicitly requires that projects be designed to support the survival of the species, not to intentionally kill any lions, keep detailed records, and also make reported information available to the public. During many of the discussions over drafted language, MLF was frequently criticized for putting in parameters that were "stricter than regulations on endangered species!"
But MLF did not back down. We think America's lion deserves the highest level of protection... can you blame us?
Today, not only are we pleased AB 1784 has passed, but we are proud to learn it is now being considered by other animal protection organizations as a model for wildlife research legislation. Thank you to everyone who contacted Governor Brown, shared the alert, and helped pass AB 1784!