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Mountain Lion Killing: Animal Rights Group Calls For Probe

A 2005 image of a mountain lion from the California DFG (CaliforniaDFG via Flickr)
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When a young mountain lion was spotted inside a Downtown Santa Monica building Tuesday, authorities say they made every effort to subdue the wild animal, but ultimately made the decision to fatally shoot the young male. Now, animal rights activists are questioning the actions of those authorities, and are calling for an investigation into the shooting.

First spotted early in the morning by a janitor inside a commercial building in the 1200 block of Second Street, near the Santa Monica Promenade, officials say they soon had cause to worry about its proximity to businesses and people.

Non-lethal methods to subdue the mountain lion, estimated to be about three years old and weigh between 75 and 100 pounds, were not successful.

"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,'' Santa Monica police Lt. Robert Almada said, according to City News Service. Almada adds: "Regrettably, the animal was euthanized in order to protect public safety.''

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"Our hope is always to be able to return wild animals back to their natural habitat," Department of Fish and Game Assistant Chief Paul Hamdorf said in a statement. "However, public safety is our number one priority. We appreciate the cooperation and assistance that the Santa Monica Police provided, and support the decisions that were made in the field."

But the reaction to the fatal shooting of the animal was not unanimously in agreement with the officials.

Madeline Bernstein, president of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los Angeles, said her organization was "dismayed" with the killing of the mountain lion, and she says they're calling for a closer look at just what went down at the scene, and why they opted to kill the animal.

"Basically, they agitated and frightened a cornered cat before they killed her,'' Bernstein said. "Hosing a mountain lion down and then shooting (it) with pepper balls only served to make (it) more frenzied. Deadly force should be used only as a last resort. The citizens and wildlife of California deserve better.''

A necropsy is planned, per the Santa Monica Daily Press:

The body of the animal will be transported to the California Wildlife Center in Calabasas, Calif., where officials there will try to determine if there was any medical reason that the mountain lion went so far out of its normal territory, said Cindy Reyes, executive director of the center.

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