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Thursday, September 21, 2006

the mountain lion

I am extremely upset about the Santa Fe County Sheriff's Department killing the mountain lion in Santa Fe. For one thing, the story about why this happened seems inconsistent.

According to the new mex, the lion looked it was going to leave, so the deputy shot it. According to The Department of Game and Fish, which sent me this press release yesterday, it was shot because the lion "would not leave its kill in the yard and showed no fear of humans..." Read below:



SANTA FE – A Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Department officer shot and killed a young mountain lion about midnight Tuesday in the back yard of a residence south of Santa Fe.

The lion, a 5-foot-long, 40-pound male with a 20-inch tail, had just killed a feral housecat when a resident of Oak Street reported seeing it in his back yard about two miles east of the Lone Butte General Store. A sheriff’s deputy shot the lion after it would not leave its kill in the yard and showed no fear of humans, posing a public safety hazard.
Department of Game and Fish Northwest Area Assistant Chief Robert Livingston was enroute to the site when the lion was killed. He said the young lion was about 18 to 20 months old, the age when mother lions usually send their young out on their own. It’s possible it was the same lion – or a littermate – of the lion sighted recently in Santa Fe, he said, but there is no way to be certain of that.
Mountain lion sightings are unusual but not uncommon in or around communities near mountains or foothills. Here are some simple steps to follow if you live in lion country or encounter a mountain lion:

Now, I don't freaking know, but is the fact that a baby mountain lion (it was less than 2 years old and weighed 40 pounds) shows no fear of humans make it a danger? Ot could that be because it's growing up in wilderness so vastly encroached upon by people that it's used to people? And what gives the sheriff's department the right to make that call? It looked like it was going to leave? Even though it wasn't leaving? It makes me sick, really, to think of this baby lion, which had probably just left its mother, being shot. Has anyone ever heard of a freaking tranquilizer gun? Fish and Game should have gotten there more quickly, and if local police are responsible for things like mountain lions they should be trained in it and carry tranquilizer guns. I realize no one wanted the lion to eat a child, but was there any indication it was going to?
There are more than 90 comments on this story on the new mex site, so I guess it's hitting a nerve. The dead lion on the cover of the new mex was very upsetting. I would have had a hard time publishing that photo.