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Mountain lion shot, killed in backyard

Original post made on Mar 29, 2011

Authorities shot and killed a mountain lion that they cornered in a backyard after it wandered into a Redwood City neighborhood Tuesday morning (March 29).

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, March 29, 2011, 11:46 AM

Comments (38)

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Posted by Gail Slocum
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Mar 29, 2011 at 12:26 pm

Hopefully the authorities will get a tranquilizer gun and trap the lion that is now being contained within this one yard.

In Palo Alto a few years back, the Palo Alto police quickly killed a mountain lion, and there was a huge outcry as this is not viewed as the "best practice."

This is especially important as mountain lion populations are dwindling and they are a necessary part of the ecosystem.


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Posted by Curious PV Resident
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Mar 29, 2011 at 12:28 pm

Can we see photos?


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Posted by CMG
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Mar 29, 2011 at 12:36 pm

The cat was killed.

I don't understand either why they could not tranquilize it.

Also a similar story in Berkeley last year where they killed the animal.


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Posted by Sybille
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Mar 29, 2011 at 12:40 pm

Poor cat. WE are in its habitat and NOT the other way round. I totally agree with CMG.


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Posted by menlo
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 29, 2011 at 12:51 pm

How lazy if the only solution reached was to kill the cat. I am sure there is a better way.


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Posted by survival
a resident of another community
on Mar 29, 2011 at 12:52 pm

This is OUR habitat. The cats live in the hills and sparcely populated areas, not in the city. Why is always "the mean old humans infringing on the territory of wild animals"? We are also entitled to survive. A trapped cat like that could panic and run, and a tranquilizer will not stop it fast enough. It could injure or kill a small animal or child, even attack an adult if it feels trapped. This mountain lion was searching for food outside of it's normal habitat, and I'm glad it was killed before somebody or something close to me became it's lunch. Humans are allowed to protect ourselves, too!


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Posted by Right thing to do
a resident of Atherton: other
on Mar 29, 2011 at 1:09 pm

Cat populations are not dwindling. These cats are territorial and can't be relocated. It will hopefully NOT take a human fatality to make people understand what a predator is. Come to our neighborhood to hear gun fire on Sat nights. Outcry for moutain lions but ignore over crowding and poor county code enforcement.


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 29, 2011 at 2:12 pm

The mountain lion population is decidely NOT dwindling. Their population is growing because the hunting of them has been banned. With no natural predators their population grows. One of the reason for increasing sightings of the cats is that population growth. Usually adolescent cats that the established cats force out of their territory.

They had to shoot the cat because they could not get a clean shot with the tranquilizer and did not want a frightened angry mountain lion running loose if their tranquilizer shot missed.


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Posted by peter carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 29, 2011 at 2:24 pm

peter carpenter is a registered user.

A well researched book on this subject is A Brast in the Garden:

Web Link

"The theme of the artificiality of the wilderness around Boulder runs throughout The Beast in the Garden, as does the idea that by romanticizing this artificial wilderness and its supposed 'naturalness,' Boulder's citizens were shirking their responsibility to manage it properly and were refusing to understand their role in creating the conditions that had led to the return of cougars."

Harper's
March 2005

"Weaving together deep research, meticulous reporting, vivid characterization, disciplined prose, informative political and historical asides, lucid science, incisive wit, and narrative pacing as smooth and suspenseful as a stalking mountain lion, Baron has created a wily page-turner...."

Boston Globe
March 29, 2004


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Posted by Common Sense
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Mar 29, 2011 at 2:48 pm

The journalist got the story wrong. This happens every year, and once again, the police were unprepared!


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Posted by survival
a resident of another community
on Mar 29, 2011 at 3:04 pm

Sounds to me like they were very prepared. Kill the wild animal before it kills one of your relatives or pets. The police did a great job protecting the public. Thank you!


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Posted by pvrez
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Mar 29, 2011 at 3:54 pm

just wait until the hogs move in, that's going to be interesting to say the least. look at this map of pig takes from the department of fish and game.

Web Link


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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Mar 29, 2011 at 5:07 pm

Unfortunately, there are a lot of problems w/tranquilizing big cats. If they're darted correctly & the tranq works, the cat still has to be tracked because it'll usually run off before the medication takes effect. Mountain lions also have a precipitous drop in body temp when tranq'd. But if all of this works smoothly & the cat is caught, the next problem is where to take it. For us it's out of sight, out of mind, but for the cat, it's generally a problem to be put on new turf. Wed don't know what turf is claimed & which isn't & the male mountain lions are often killed by the older males who've established their territory. But since we don't know this part, we just want the cat tranq'd & released far away, not knowing there is often a very unhappy ending for the animal. No easy answers, unfortunately.

For those of us who want the animal kept alive, we have to remember that the cops are charged w/public safety, not nature conservancy. All logic and public safety decisions aside, it's very, very sad; their population has grown as has ours & we've encroached on their territory, so due to that & their increasing populations, they're coming down to more populated areas.


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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Mar 29, 2011 at 7:35 pm

Nicely said, Hmmmm.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 29, 2011 at 8:04 pm

The root of the problem is, as Baron documents so well in his book Beast in the Backyard, that mountain lions no longer fear humans. Since they are protected in California there is no reason for them not to push into human territories and that is exactly what they are doing.
Baron has some important recommendations on how to reinstill that fear.
Every time they come close to human territory then need to be driven off painfully. The alternative is to kill them which has no potential for learning.


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Posted by Right thing to do
a resident of Atherton: other
on Mar 30, 2011 at 8:51 am

People love to feed deer. Mountain lions live on them and any meat. People are meat, and children are easiest prey. Control the predators food supply will control their numbers. POST and other land trusts should consider allowing responsible licensed ethical hunters to thin the deer population within DFG guideliens that ravage crops on the cost boardering large uncontrolled properties. Less deer, less lions.


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Posted by CMG
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Mar 30, 2011 at 9:25 am

"Scott Delucchi, a spokesman for the Peninsula Humane Society, said police initially contacted the PHS to see if it had tranquilizing equipment. He said the PHS told police that the agency doesn't typically deal with mountain lion incidents."

Currently there's at least one cougar sighting from PV to RWC a week; no exaggeration. I think it's time to get a game plan so another one these cats doesn't have to be shot. The PD should be carrying tranquilizers and get training on using them.


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Posted by WdsdRes
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Mar 30, 2011 at 12:59 pm

Kudos to "Hmmmm" - excellent fact-based commentary;


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Posted by SameOldThemes
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 30, 2011 at 1:51 pm

Reading this message board is a rehash of the same old themes in other conversations on related topics. It boils down to some people who would be perfectly happy in a sanitized world where the only animals are the ones we eat or pet and others who are wary of the many ways in which humans deleteriously impact their environment and disrupt the various checks and balances that have been in place for many eons before their arrival.

Whatever. I know that the world I love and the world that fills me with amazement extends well beyond what a human can create. It is the height of cowardice and possible rank stupidity to suggest that it was "either the mountain lion or one of us".

For those of us who feel that other lives can be as precious as human life, enjoy the following link:

Web Link


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Posted by survival
a resident of another community
on Mar 30, 2011 at 2:08 pm

Actually, SameOldThemes, this was a case of "either the mountain lion or one of us". In the wild, the mountain lion almost always wins. This time, it did not. Which of your friends were you willing to sacrifice for the sake of this wayward mountain lion? Self preservation is not cowardice, and [portion deleted].
.


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Posted by Out of State
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Mar 30, 2011 at 2:20 pm

[Post deleted.]


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Posted by The real story
a resident of Woodside: other
on Mar 30, 2011 at 3:30 pm

The news media needs to obtain a copy of the CAD incident and the dispatch tapes via a public records request. There were four agencies involved, Redwood City PD, San Mateo Co Sheriff office, Peninsula Humane Society (PHS), and the Dept.of Fish & Game.
The mountain lion had been cornered in a yard after 3hrs of "negotiations" between the PHS & DGF. PHS did indeed have a tranquilizer rifle available & on scene, however DFG would not authorize PHS to use it. Therefore, it was ultimately DFG's decision to kill the small female mountain lion.
There is County protocol in dealing with these situations, however DFG would not comply with the protocol.
I do hope that next time, PHS will respond & take the necessary action to prevent the killing of these animals by utilizing the tranquilizer weapon & re-locating these animals.


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Posted by SameOldThemes
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 30, 2011 at 3:43 pm

survival,

You speak with a level of certitude that is not justified by the facts available at hand. I don't have friends who cower in the face of risk. Life is full of risk. Maybe we should remove all cars from the road. I know, let's shut down all reactors in the world because someone built a reactor in an area that sees 8.0 magnitude earthquakes every 15 years or so.

And spare me your limp wristed attempts at insults.

Pathetic.


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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Mar 30, 2011 at 5:00 pm

I really wish that, as a community, there could be agreement reached on how to proceed in suburban scenarios w/mountain lions. It would be marvelous if shooting them wasn't the only option, if tranqs worked faster & more effectively, thus reducing the cat taking off before the meds took effect. I did a lot of homework when the PA lion was killed, I spoke w/a number of efforts & that's how I learned how many variables were at play when tranqs are used. If we could make it a priority, as a community, to have various SOPs incl non-lethal ones, the deaths might not be necessary to ensure public safety. I don't want to live in a sanitized world but I also understand what's at stake w/public safety.

If what another poster said what happened happened that way, I am not surprised DFG was so aggressive in their handling of the cat; I am also aware of PHS ACOs having training with & access to tranq equipment.

Thanks for the kudos from those who gave them. I am very sorry to say that the info I have re this type of scenario was attained w/a heavy heart some years ago. Given the passage of time, I would hope that we could request some further research for better ways of handling these increasing incidents.


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Posted by To the real story
a resident of another community
on Mar 30, 2011 at 5:03 pm

You referred to a protocol which DFG wouldn't follow. Can you let us know what that protocol is? Thank you in advance.

It would be great if media would pursue the info the real story refers to. Is this sort of like the poisoned squirrels of Menlo Park?


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Posted by SameOldThemes
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 30, 2011 at 5:27 pm

To the real story,

You made an interesting reference to the poisoning of squirrels. Indulge me for a moment if you will.

That was a another classic example of the philosophy I outlined. Within minutes of that story posting, a series of comments emerged indicating that it was good riddance. That squirrels were just pests. etc., etc.

This story, the squirrel story, and other similar instances lead me to the ask the question I indirectly referred to in my previous post: In the eyes of such posters, is there any role in this world for local animals that are perceived as threatening or considered useless to suburbanites?

We accept risks in other aspects of our life, because the alternative is not palatable. How is this or any number of similar wildlife scenarios different? Maybe the fearful folk can take a hand sanitizer bath, wrap themselves in Saran Wrap, lie between 2 mattresses, and drink through a long straw while the rest of us enjoy the world with all of its highs and lows.


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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Mar 30, 2011 at 6:05 pm

As others have noted, you can't always tranquilize a mountain lion.

First, you have to have a clear shot at their flanks to tranquilize them. Second, because they often flee after being "darted," you have to be able to track them for 5 to 10 minutes after they are tranquilized. In this case, the authorities determined that neither was possible.

A shame to be sure, but public safety comes first. If they had missed and the cat attacked someone, everyone would be asking why it wasn't shot when they had the chance. Shades of the Palo Alto shooting a few years ago.


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Posted by member
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 30, 2011 at 6:21 pm

What happens to the body of the killed mountain lion?


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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Mar 30, 2011 at 6:45 pm

The body goes to DFG for necroscopy; at least that's SOP. Not sure if they do the cut off head thing to test for rabies as well.


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 30, 2011 at 6:48 pm

The really sad thing about this is that California in its stupidity has created this problem. We outlawed hunting of mountain lions thirty years ago. Now that decision has come home to roost. Increased mountain lion population. These are not lions like african lions, they don't live in prides. They are loners and have territories which they need to maintain in order to feed themselves. When you increase the number of lions, you increase the needed territory. It has nothing to do with our impinging on their territory it has to do with their population growth which has them trying to intrude on our territory. In addition, we don't allow the taking of deer in this area, so we are over run with them. Guess what lions like to eat? They will follow the deer into our neighborhoods because the deer have nothing to fear there. Our poor wildlife management has created this situation and until we wise up and allow some taking of mountain lions we will continue to have this problem, in fact, it will only get worse.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 30, 2011 at 7:41 pm

Menlo Voter correctly states:"They will follow the deer into our neighborhoods because the deer have nothing to fear there."

The experience in Boulder Colorado where the residents encouraged mountain lions to 'share' their space with humans resulted in the mountain lions losing their fear of humans. The mountain lions became comfortable around humans and started eating their dog food and then their dogs. Finally a mountain lion attacked and killed an adult human.
The solution was a vigorous program of reinstilling fear of humans into the mountain lion population. This involved attacking them with painful but non lethal substances whenever the mountain lions encountered humans. The mountain lions learned to avoid humans and human spaces. Killing a mountain lion produces no such learning as they are solitary animals and hence there are no other mountain lions to witness and learn from such a killing.

Baron's Beast in the Garden describes how the Boulder community learned to deal with this problem without having to kill the mountain lions. But it took a human death to convince the humans that they had to stop playing pussy cat with wild animals.


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Posted by Gail Slocum
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Mar 30, 2011 at 9:19 pm

Pete's comments are instructive - what we want to do is something more effective in the long run.

Reading "The Real Story's" report of DFG's unwillingness to ever try the tranquilizer, I feel we are still not adequately prepared for the long run approach.

If they could get a shot to kill the lion in between these two fences, I don't get why they couldn't try shooting it there with a tranquilizer and if that failed, have two or more rifles trained on it as back up. Public safety would still have been ensured, it seems to me.

We need to learn from this how to co-exist in better balance with nature while still having back-up plans to protect ourselves and our kids.


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 30, 2011 at 10:22 pm

Gail:

they could only get a head shot. The dart will not work in the head, it needs meat to do it's work. They could not get a shot at the flanks; that's why the decision was made to shoot it rather than dart it.


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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Mar 30, 2011 at 11:11 pm

Even if they got a good shot at the flank, how would they contain the lion until the meds kicked in? That's another public safety issue. This is dealt with every time law enforcement kills a mountain lion. Truly, there are currently no easy solutions to maintain public safety AND keep the lion alive. For us civilians, the issue is dropped when the furor dies down. We don't deal w/this ongoingly, nor do we present potentially effective solutions to the public safety and animal welfare communities. Many people will wait in line for the latest cell phone, OS or iPad, but not brainstorm on an issue like this. It's pretty sad, actually.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 31, 2011 at 6:02 am

Fortunately, the brainstorming on this issue has already been done. The key is reinstilling fear of humans in the mountain lions and, in the case of California, be willing to control the currently unrestricted population growth of mountain lions. Lots of very good work on both issues have been done elsewhere but unfortunately when it comes to this issue people just don't seem to want to learn from other communities. Until we learn from other communities more mountain lions will come into our urban human spaces and most of them will be killed.


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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Mar 31, 2011 at 7:22 am

Ms. Slocum -

Nice thought, but do you have any idea how difficult it is to shoot a mountain lion that has bolted and is now in full run?

This wasn't a staged Hollywood movie. If the shooter just wings the mountain lion, what do you think will happen?

There was no SAFE way to tranquilize this animal and assure the safety of the public. These professionals did the best they could under the circumstances and erred on the side of public safety.


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Posted by Sybille
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Mar 31, 2011 at 3:29 pm

Kudos to Hmmm indeed.

Could they have caught the mountain lion in a net so it would get have gotten entangled and then tranquilized it?


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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Apr 1, 2011 at 1:45 am

How would they drop the net, Miss Sybille- do you have any ideas? I've pondered the same thing myself.

When a lion's in a tree, dropping a net -that's mighty hard to do - a chopper would make noise.

If the lion's on the ground, I wonder if it's perfectly positioned & w/the right type of net that could be dropped & somehow very swiftly tightened, then the lion accurately darted, it could be kept alive & possible "rehomed." I have heard that it was in a tree as well as on the ground when it was shot, so I'm not sure what the real deal was.

But getting a net on it would be hard also if it was on the ground - literally, getting the drop on it - to be safe & close enough to somehow get a net on it? I don't know- they're smart, alert, fast & have keen senses.

What do people think - would a net work w/different backyard scenarios?

Yes, it was either kill more mountain lions some years ago to keep the population down, or kill them now. Or we get rid of a good number of deer. Or people. Yeah, right, like that'll happen. No easy answers. Maybe Peter's right & they need to scare them - & that's a while way to get trained that I'm sure the government agencies don't want to pay for.


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