Just over a year-and-a-half ago a tragedy occurred in Half Moon Bay, a small rural community along the California coast. On December 1, 2012, two frightened, starving mountain lion kittens, cowering in a residential backyard, were shot and killed by California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) wardens. Their deaths were the direct result of lack of equipment, training, and policies which, at that time, required their lives.
But something special grew out of that tragedy. Instead of the deaths becoming just another statistic, public outrage prompted the introduction and passage of legislation (Senate Bill 132
) that changed how mountain lions that wander into developed areas in California are to be treated. The new law restricts use of lethal force in public contact situations to only those lions that display unprovoked aggressive behavior.
Even before SB 132 took affect on January 1, 2014, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife embraced the spirit of the law. They drastically changed their departmental policies for handling mountain lions, improved training, purchased new equipment and started using non-lethal methods to give lost lions a second chance.
Recently, the new law was once more put to the test by a young mountain lion that somehow ended up in downtown Sacramento
. Because of the exemplary behavior of responding Sacramento police officers and representatives of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife that lion now has a chance to grow up and become a valuable contributor to California's environment.