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|Mountain Lion Killed in Santa Monica was Shot to Death, Necropsy Concludes|
By Lookout Staff
June 8, 2012 -- The mountain lion killed in the courtyard of a building in Downtown Santa Monica May 22 died as the result of being shot, according to the preliminary findings of a necropsy released Thursday.
The necropsy conducted by California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory System in San Bernardino ruled out that the lion might have died as a result of wounds sustained when it charged and shattered one of the glass doors at the courtyard’s entryway.
Water hoses used to contain the animal were sprayed at the glass doors to render them opaque and pepper balls were fired into the ground to prevent the lion from escaping the courtyard, police said.
"The goal was to keep the lion contained until the tranquilizer could take effect," said Sgt. Richard Lewis. "Because of the threat to public safety caused by the lion’s continuous efforts to escape, the determination was made to use deadly force. The lion died at the scene."
It was the first time on more than 30 years that a lion was sighted in Santa Monica, police said.
The killing of the mountain lion, a three-year-old, male weighing 95 pounds, triggered a debate, with some justifying the action by police, while others argued that it was an unnecessary killing of an animal that should have been captured and returned to the wild.
Lewis said that police, along with Santa Monica Animal Control, California Department of Fish & Game and the Santa Monica Fire Department, all of which responded to the scene, "established a unified command and worked together to formulate a plan to ensure public safety.
"It was determined that the best resolution was to sedate… the mountain lion to facilitate its capture and release into the Santa Monica Mountains," Lewis said.
"The Department of Fish and Game attempted to use a tranquilizer dart to sedate the mountain lion," Lewis said. "The lion immediately became aggressive and looked for an avenue of escape."
The Police Department is "formulating a unique approach to address the concerns associated with this unusual occurrence," Lewis said.
"To explore viable alternatives in an effort to prepare for any future incident, members of the Police Department will be meeting with various community partners" later this month, he said.
The partners include the California Department of Fish and Game, Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), In Defense of Animals, the Pacific Institute for Restoration Ecology CSU Channel Islands and local veterinarians who specialize in large animals, Lewis said.
The presence of the mountain lion in the beachside city's downtown brought attention to the encroachment of development on the area's natural habitat, where some ten mountain lions are thought to live in the wild.
Santa Monica's in close proximity to the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, the country’s largest (153,000 acres) urban national park.
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