Petition urges Fish and Game to change mountain lion policies in wake of Half Moon Bay deaths

AP File PhotoWild lives: An animal rescue group wants the state to change its policies regarding mountain lions.

The fatal shooting of two young mountain lions in Half Moon Bay earlier this month has prompted a Monterey-based wildlife rescue group to petition the state Department of Fish and Game about its policies toward such animals.

On Dec. 1, game wardens shot the mountain lions that had taken refuge under the porch of a home in the 800 block of Correas Street earlier that week. The cubs were about 10 months old and each weighed about 30 pounds.

The decision to kill the animals was made in the name of public safety, Fish and Game officials said.

But according to Rebecca Dmytryk of the animal aid group Wildlife Emergency Services, the big cats “would have been excellent candidates for rehabilitation.”

She said shooting or tranquilizing the cougars would have been the last thing wildlife rescuers would resort to, especially since Dmytryk said she believes the cubs were hungry and desperate, leading to their strange behavior around humans.

The animals appeared to be habituated to humans and did not try to hide or run away, Fish and Game officials said.

Dmytryk has put together a petition asking the department to change its policies on how to deal with mountain lions found in public spaces. Once it reaches 1,000 signatures, it will be delivered to Fish and Game Director Charlton Bonham.

Dmytryk said she hopes to form a collaborative effort with wildlife rescue organizations and Fish and Game to discuss constructing a rehabilitation facility for the state to use for mountain lions, instead of killing or capturing the big cats.

Fish and Game said in the days after the lethal action that the mountain lions were deemed a safety threat after several days of monitoring the cubs and giving them a chance to return to the wild.

Other options such as tranquilizing the cats were not plausible given the proximity of the animals to a populated neighborhood. That course of action ran the risk of having two possibly agitated young mountain lions on the loose near humans, Fish and Game officials said.

The Wildlife Emergency Services cougar petition can be found at www.wildrescue.org.

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