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Mountain Lion Shot, Killed in Santa Monica

Department of Fish and Game wardens and Santa Monica police officers try to tranquilize animal first. Community expresses anger that mountain lion was killed.

A trip to the beach ended badly for a mountain lion that wandered into Santa Monica Tuesday morning.

Fearing the 75-pound animal would bolt from a courtyard near the where it was contained for most of the morning, authorities shot and killed the lion. Police and Fish and Game wardens used tranquilizers first, but said attempts to keep it from escaping, including using fire department hoses and pepper balls, were unsuccessful.

"The animal continued to charge in [an] attempt to flee out of the courtyard," said Santa Monica Police Sgt. Robert Almada. "Regrettably, the animal was euthanized in order to protect public safety.''

The mountain lion's body is being taken to the California Wildlife Center in Calabasas, where it will be examined, according to Executive Director Cindy Reyes.

It was still unclear exactly how the animal wound up just two blocks from the beach.

Fish and Game Patrol Capt. Daniel Sforz speculated that it could have trekked over night from the Santa Monica mountains across green belts, such as golf courses and parks.

"It's very unusual," he said of a mountain lion travelling into a city.

The Santa Monica Police Department first received a call at 5:45 a.m. about a large cat walking down Arizona Avenue, followed by another call at about 6 a.m. from a maintenance man who cleaning the property at 1227 Second St.

“When I pulled out the trash bag, I saw the cat come to where I was,” the janitor, Rogelio Rodriguez, told the Los Angeles Times. Rodriguez told the paper that he then ran to call police.

When officers arrived, they found the animal, a 2-year-old male, enclosed inside the courtyard by 6-foot tall glass doors. They summoned the Santa Monica Fire Department, Santa Monica Animal control and the California Department of Fish and Game.

At about 9:15 a.m. at least four loud shots rang out through downtown. Almada said a variety of means were used to try to keep the animal back inside the courtyard area.

"We started darting it, but it wasn't taking effect immediately, so we shot it," said Sforz.

Venice resident Bill Dyer, the Southern California Director of In Defense of Animals, questioned why authorities didn't use additional means to keep the mountain lion alive.

"What's the rush? Why couldn't they have waited?" he asked.

Sforz said authorities' first priority is public safety.

"Generally speaking mountain lions are not dangerous," he said, but there was the possibility that it could have lept over the glass doors and onto the street. Judging by his teeth, the mountain lion would have hunted full-grown deer, he added.

"We did our best," Sforz said. "Our main concern is public safety."

Santa Monica Police Sgt. Robert Almada said he has responded to calls about coyotes before, but never a mountain lion.

Second Street was closed between Wilshire Boulevard and Arizona Avenue until about noon.

Dick Lague May 22, 2012 at 09:06 PM
what does hunting in Idaho have to do with it!!! We have about 5 of these lions around in the SM mountains.....what a shame to kill even one.
Cynthia Molnar May 22, 2012 at 10:40 PM
Why did they have to Kill it!!!! Makes me so sick at our dominance over innocent animals!!
Cynthia Molnar May 22, 2012 at 10:43 PM
Why did they have to Kill the poor animal!!! This is just not right at all!!! Just makes me sick we are not able to handle something like this!! Such a hugh shame!!!
fries May 22, 2012 at 10:46 PM
That's not the first cougar to prowl the Third Street Promenade.
Jasmine May 22, 2012 at 11:24 PM
Next time, KEEP THE HELICOPTERS AWAY! I live in the neighborhood. The horrific NOISE and VIBRATION from the four helicopters hovering above likely caused mountain lion to panic, increase its adrenalin and make it less susceptible to tranquilizer. (Even my human neighbors were hysterical and panicking due to the helicopters overhead.) Department of Fish & Game and Santa Monica Police Department please work together to develop a standard local approach to address roaming mountain lions that will avoid such pandemonium in the future. Considering the location, seems like Mountain Lion was probably seeking food and attracted by SugarFish's awesome sashimi.
SantaMonicaNative May 23, 2012 at 12:23 AM
It is very sad that the mountain lion was killed. It seemed to me since it was inside a glassed in area, no one was in any imminent danger. I am not sure why, they couldn't get a more appropriate dose of aesthetic and save the animal. There are toms of local Vets in the area. Probably came up from the canyon. Sad to see such a beautiful animal killed because the officers involved came unprepared.
Jenna Chandler (Editor) May 23, 2012 at 12:56 AM
Jasmine, the SugarFish theory is the best I've heard so far!
Sandy Fronk May 23, 2012 at 04:49 AM
try reading the post from td again, then google Dan Richards, Dept of Fish and Game, and hunting mountain lions in Idaho - you will understand - thanks Schwarzenegger for appointing him.
Jill Kobritz May 23, 2012 at 07:04 AM
Everyone is so quick to judge the animal control officers. What we have said/written if the lion had mauled a child. They had to use their best judgement in a hurry. Maybe other people with more training/experience would have done something else but they were the ones who had to decide. And it was not a domesticated animal. The loss of the Mountain Lion is a great loss. But thank God no humans were injured.
Marta Evry May 23, 2012 at 11:08 AM
One word for why that mountain lion was shot: Lawsuit. Public Safety or no, I guarantee you their marching orders were to avoid City liability above anything else.
Brilliant Comrade May 23, 2012 at 02:41 PM
Too bad your bad cat, who at 75 pounds weighed less than an anorexic runway model, had to be put down. In our country our whole population weighs less than that, (except for the soldiers), but we try not to harm them, (unless they disagree with the regime).
Kevin Nelson May 23, 2012 at 02:42 PM
You idiots crying about "the children" annoy me. First of all, I don't have kids so if one of your got mauled, i'm gonna assume he wa doing something stupid, and you werent supervising him. And I stil wouldn't care. There are about a thousand ways your poor little johnnie could get hurt before a cougar attacks him, and most of those are due to him being dumb, and you not paying attention. Fish and game overreacted. No leadership there.
I Need Java May 23, 2012 at 02:49 PM
Why does everyone think this animal was not an imminent danger - I get it that it was in an enclosed area but cats can jump very high, there is no evidence that the cat didn't jump in to the enclosed area so who's to say he couldn't jump out just as easily, and they tried to sedate it for a few hours before making the final decision to kill it. Sounds to me like they did the best they could and should be commended for protecting the public, not criticized for doing their job. Kudos to those who tried to contain and capture. It doesn't work like a Hollywood movie in the real world.
Brilliant Comrade May 23, 2012 at 02:58 PM
You are very hard-line. We could use you in the DPRK!
Kevin Nelson May 23, 2012 at 03:02 PM
Everyone thinks it because it's true. If this is the best they can do, then a serious evaluation of their methods, training and funding is needed. What did they think spraying it with a firehose would accomplish, other than getting it wet and agitated? Dont they have a chart that says if an animal weighs X pounds, give him this much tranquilizer?
I Need Java May 23, 2012 at 03:08 PM
Kevin, were you there ? And did you read the part about hitting it repeatedly with tranquilizers and they weren't taking affect. Did you think they had time to weigh the animal? The fire hose spraying sounded like it was done to keep it in the courtyard while they could still attempt to tranq the cat. I'm for saving every animal we can, but sometimes they just can't - and I understand that part too.
Kevin Nelson May 23, 2012 at 03:24 PM
I understand we live in a wussified city where schools go on lockdown at the sight of a bobcat. Maybe if we tranqilized and tranferred to remote areas most of these lawyers that would love to sue someone if this animal happened to bite someone, we'd be better off. I'm willing to let nature run its course, and if that means a couple dopey kids, Prius drivers or soccer moms get bit, well, that's a chance i'm willing to take.
I Need Java May 23, 2012 at 03:32 PM
Does that go for your Grandma too, Kevin, if she decides to ever leave the house and perhaps can't out run the mountain lion? Feel free to open your doors and remove your walls from your shelter, and let nature run its course. Survival of the fittest, Kev.
Melissa Carbone May 23, 2012 at 03:51 PM
Save the Hollywood Movie "BS" and recognize that if we had skilled and strategic people working for our tax dollars BOTH public safety and the mountain lions safety could have been achieved. I refuse to believe that it was an "either or." With a little thought and strategy and less "trigger happy" workers trying to play GI Joe on our dime, saving both is also an option (Imagine that.)...and that would of been a hero.
Jay Russell May 23, 2012 at 03:51 PM
Okay, seriously everyone? Your comments are depressingly juvenile. Did any of you actually read the article? They did their best to try to save it, they used tranqs, they tried to contain it, but when it started to bolt, they had to do what they had to do to protect the people who live in the area. It was NOT a baby, it was a 3 year old, full grown male. If any of you had ever actually seen one up close, you'd be thankful they put human safety first. Though they don't usually attack people, a cornered or threatened mountain lion is capable of doing a LOT of damage. If they hadn't killed it (a truly unfortunate occurance, I readily admit) and it had gotten out and mauled or killed someone, then what would you say? What if YOU were in charge of that decision and someone died? Don't be so quick to judge. I swear, you all sound like grade-schoolers!
Kevin Nelson May 23, 2012 at 04:15 PM
That would be a good trick since she died 7 years ago, Open carry is the answer. At least we would have a way to fend off mountain lions and the more common and dangerous predators known to prowl the streets.
Melissa May 23, 2012 at 04:29 PM
Completely uncalled for. No one was in immediate danger and what was the hurry. AND (dippy red), I do have little children and am an animal lover. If I would have been in the area with my small children and felt in danger I would have gone somewhere else for the time being. It is about respecting all creatures. Not enough time was given. If the tranquilizers weren't working obviously they weren't the correct dosage. Tranquilizers are used on much larger animals. I think this is just Fish & Game not knowing how to do their job.
Micheal May 23, 2012 at 05:19 PM
What tranquilizer shot they went from rubber bullets to real bullets,there was no attempt tp tranq it
Micheal May 23, 2012 at 05:32 PM
Wonders how all you flat landers would handle dealing w/ wildlife like we do in the desert.
Cynthia Molnar May 23, 2012 at 07:02 PM
Why does Fish & Game not know how to tranquilize a wild animal??? Isn't this their job??!!
Marinaguy44 May 24, 2012 at 01:34 AM
""We started darting it, but it wasn't taking effect immediately, so we shot it," said Sforz." [Fish and Game Patrol Capt. Daniel Sforz] WELL COULDN'T YOU WAIT A BIT FOR THE DART TO TAKE EFFECT?!!! THE CAT WAS IN AN ENCLOSED SPACE WITH NO MEANS OF ESCAPE. SFORZ SHOULD BE REPRIMANDED--OR FIRED--FOR THIS UNNECESSARY TAKING OF THE CAT'S LIFE. IF SFORZ IS REPRESENTATIVE (AND HE IS A CAPTAIN!), IT SHOWS CALIFORNIA'S FISH AND GAME'S GROSS INCOMPETENCE.
Brilliant Comrade May 24, 2012 at 04:22 AM
In my country we don't need PETA. We already ate all of the animals.
Richard Sproul May 24, 2012 at 10:09 PM
dippy red , since you don't respect the beautiful Lion and Nature, I suggest you move back to NorCal !! Or east Iowa !
Jane St. Clair May 25, 2012 at 05:47 PM
Disagree, Daniel Sforz. You did NOT do your best. You should have this in hand, as we are a city that borders mountains. This needed to be a protocol you didn't even have in place. How lame is that: NOT to have this contingency, given where Santa Monica is located. I've watched over the years how this city has set the precedent for the country in a number of "earth friendly" and forward-thinking ways: the blue bus, the bag tax, KCRW's amazing community building efforts, etc. Fish and Game is not up to this standard and there needs to be serious questions asked in high places: WHY NOT? It costs a fortune to live in this city and state, given the economic climate and our taxes need to be paying the salaries of people who are as sharp, forward thinking and pro-active as possible. There are many competent candidates out there, I'm sure, who could've have handled this differently. Ridiculous!
Emily Hay May 26, 2012 at 12:00 AM
The Santa Monica Police Dept. has a well-documented culture of aggression and abusive tactics, known for beating and tasering homeless and mentally ill persons. Apparently they also have a great disdain of wildlife and feel that it is appropriate to corner, frighten, abuse and murder animals. They could have easily waited, remained calm, cooperated with Fish & Game Dept. to sedate and relocate this animal. Their irrational actions in this instance are further evidence of a trigger happy out-of-control police department.

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