Mountain lion shooting in Santa Monica causes concern

10-month-old cougar cubs open ‘Christmas gifts’ filled with play toys and pine cones at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo, Calif., on Dec. 19, 2007.


Justin Sullivan

Santa Monica, Calif., residents are voicing concern that police officers shot and killed a 75-pound mountain lion that ended up in the city’s downtown rather than taking time to capture it and return it to the wild, the Los Angeles Times reported.

"Everybody is so devastated about this," Santa Monica resident Synnove Naess, who takes art classes in the neighborhood where the cougar was spotted, told the LA Times. "I'm just so sad. This could happen again. Are they going to shoot animals every time this happens?"

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Police officers and California Department of Fish and Game wardens had responded to a call from a janitor who saw the giant cat near Santa Monica’s Third Street Promenade early this morning, Reuters reported. The mountain lion wandered into the courtyard of a building near the beach.

"A variety of means were used to try to keep the animal back inside the courtyard area," Santa Monica police spokesman Lieutenant Robert Almada told reporters, according to Reuters. "We deployed less-lethal pepper ball, we deployed fire hoses, and the animal continued to charge in (an) attempt to flee out of the courtyard. Regrettably, the animal was euthanized in order to protect public safety."

"Basically, they agitated and frightened a cornered cat before they killed her," Madeline Bernstein, president of Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los Angeles, complained to Reuters.

“What was the rush?” Bill Dyer, a regional director for animal protection group In Defense of Animals, commented to the LA Times. “They should have taken their time. This land belongs to the animals, too. This is not just our land.”

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