Last Friday, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) demonstrated to the rest of the country that non-aggressive mountain lions are NOT a threat to the public's safety, and do not have to be killed just because they have come into contact with humans.
In this particular incident, the lion was not found within its own habitat, as was the situation only a day later in the Bend, Oregon killing; this lion was hiding in the front yard bushes of a Southern California home.
Calling it a "no harm, no foul" situation, CDFW wardens tranquilized the out-of-place animal and released the 80-pound female lion back into the wild.
Unlike Oregon, California's state wildlife agency apparently saw no problem with the unpredictable nature of tranquilizer drugs, nor did they automatically assume that a partially drugged, but still mobile animal might attack and injure an innocent bystander.
The Mountain Lion Foundation acknowledges that each mountain lion encounter is unique, and how they are handled rests on the shoulders of on-scene responders. But not every human/lion encounter has to come to a lethal conclusion. As long as the lion does not display aggressive behavior, fear of what the lion might do is not a valid reason to kill the animal.
It's time to stop making excuses for pulling the trigger. All state wildlife agencies need to accept and embrace a no harm, no foul philosophy and ensure that local first responders are trained and equipped to handle these rare but intense encounters with one of our country's most precious wildlife resources: the American lion.