Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Should the government be ENCOURAGING mountain lions to live in Los Angeles City Parks?

On March 25th, 2011, a 110 pound male mountain lion was captured in a trap in Griffith Park.  It was lured there by the carcass of a dead animal.  It was then tagged with a radio collar to track its movements.  But instead of being relocated to an area where it would not endanger the thousands of people - many of them young children - who use Griffith Park every day - it was released back into Griffith Park in the heart of Los Angeles.

Now the only reason to do this is if the goal is to make Griffith Park into a breeding ground for mountain lions, also known as pumas. And the only way a healthy population can permanently inhabit Griffith Park is if the Griffith Park breeding colony can permanently breed with other mountain lion populations.

That would require all of the Santa Monica Mountains between Griffith Park - including the Hollywood Hills, upper Beverly Hills, Bel Air, Brentwood and the Pacific Palisades - not to mention the San Fernando Valley hillside communities on the other side of Mulholland such as Sherman Oaks, Encino, Tarzana and Woodland Hills - to become part of a permanent mountain lion corridor; a corridor which would make all of those hillside communities potentially home to breeding colonies of mountain lions.

Now it was stated that the lion was not captured by any hiking trails - but that was only because the trap was not set next to a hiking trail.  And since a full grown male mountain lion has a very large range - it could easily reach any hiking trail in Griffith Park within a day - if not within hours.

So the question is - when those of us who voted to make the mountain lion a protected species (as I did) - did any of us expect that the government would use that law to help reintroduce mountain lions into the city parks and residential communities of urban Los Angeles?

Now I am not taking a stand on this at this moment.  I simply think there needs to be some kind of public debate about this policy.


Anonymous said...

Mountain Lions have been making forays into Griffith Park for short time periods the entire time the park has been in existence. They have huge territories and the size and deer population in Griffith is too small to sustain one, really, much less a family. This guy will kill a deer or two and make his way back out of the park - same as others have done for 115 years.

Brady Westwater said...

I don't necessarily disagree with any of your points (though if one or more hungry animals loses their fear of humans enough to go after pets in the brush near adjacent homes, that could change. But assuming that you right for the moment - why not remove the lion back to where it can sustain itself so we do not have a hungry predator roaming around a city park looking for food?

That would not upset the balance you feel will remain - and it will remove the possibility of a tragedy happening if the lion decides to attack a small child it happens to run across.

But I feel this is a larger question than this one lion in this one spot. The question is - is it right to encourage - as opposed to discourage - an animal with a record of attacking humans to live in or near densely populated areas where it can not naturally sustain itself?

In the long term - since this policy will at some point result in the loss of human lives, then following this policy might cause far stricter restrictions on where mountain lions will be able to live than if they were safely removed from highly populated areas.