After meeting with animal welfare advocates over the killing of a mountain lion last month, the Santa Monica Police Department said it would consider changing procedures for handling wildlife incidents.
After Santa Monica police drew criticism for killing a mountain lion, the department announces that it will work to avoid such an outcome in future incidents.
In a statement released last week, the department said it was committed to training first responders and to developing a list of local consulting experts. It said it would also seek appropriate equipment and tools and support ongoing efforts to reduce the likelihood that wildlife would enter densely populated urban areas. But the department added that state law limits what police officers, scientists or veterinarians can do to control the animals.
“The only thing law enforcement can do with a mountain lion is kill it,” said police Sgt. Richard Lewis. Under the law, which prohibits the hunting of mountain lions, the state Department of Fish and Game is responsible for tranquilizing mountain lions, also known as pumas. Lewis said the law would have to be changed to allow local veterinarians, animal control officers or others “closer to home” to tranquilize the animals. He added that such a change would be unlikely.
The suggestions for altering protocol for wildlife incidents grew out of a June 25 meeting the Police Department held with animal rights activists, veterinarians, national and state park representatives, and officials from the Department of Fish and Game.
“The group’s participants readily acknowledged that, although public safety must be the primary consideration under such circumstances, the safe capture of wildlife is a valued response,” Lewis wrote. He added that participants agreed successful captures were elusive “when wild animals are encountered in urban settings.”
That was the case May 22, when a 3-year-old male mountain lion meandered into the heart of Santa Monica and came face to face with the janitor of an office complex. The man alerted authorities.
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