FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 7, 2012
Contact: Richard Lewis, Sergeant
On May 22, 2012, at approximately 5:45 a.m. officers from the Santa Monica Police Department responded to reports of a mountain lion roaming in the Downtown Santa Monica area. A short time later, the animal was discovered inside a courtyard located at 1227 2nd Street. Officers closed the surrounding streets and sidewalks.
The California Department of Fish and Game, which is tasked with handling wildlife incidents, was contacted and responded to the scene. In addition, Santa Monica Animal Control Officers, Santa Monica Fire Department personnel and a National Park Service Mountain Lion biologist assisted in the resolution of this incident which lasted for approximately 3 ½ hours. The agencies 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 approximately 3 year old, 95 pound male mountain lion to facilitate its capture and release into the Santa Monica Mountains.
The Department of Fish and Game attempted to use a tranquilizer dart to sedate the mountain lion. The lion immediately became aggressive and looked for an avenue of escape. It charged and shattered one of the glass doors at the courtyard’s entryway. The lion leaped effortlessly over large planters within the courtyard as it searched for an avenue of escape. Firefighters sprayed water at the glass doors of the courtyard’s entryway in an attempt to render them opaque to deter the lion from trying to run through or jump over the approximately eight foot tall doors. The mountain lion was not hit with water from the fire hoses. Pepper balls (Oleoresin Capsicum), the size of paintballs, were fired into the ground in an attempt to prevent the mountain lion from approaching the front of the courtyard and attempting to escape. The goal was to keep the lion contained until the tranquilizer could take effect. The lion continued its attempts to escape. 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.
The remains of the mountain lion were transported by California Department of Fish and Game Officials to the California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory System in San Bernardino, where a necropsy was conducted. The preliminary findings indicate the cause of death was the result of its being shot.
Due to the fact that there are no reported instances in recent history (30 plus years) regarding a mountain lion within the city limits, the Santa Monica Police Department is formulating a unique approach to address the concerns associated with this unusual occurrence. 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 to 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. The meeting is scheduled to take place during the latter part of June 2012.