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HMB residents outraged over cougar shootings

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Posted: Thursday, December 6, 2012 6:02 pm | Updated: 6:43 pm, Thu Dec 6, 2012.

Several Half Moon Bay families who witnessed two young mountain lions wandering through their neighborhood are appalled that the animals were later shot and killed by state Fish and Game officials.

Nearby residents have joined a groundswell of critics who believe state wardens acted hastily and should have sought alternatives before using lethal force on the lions.

“These cubs weren’t a threat really, they were more scared of us than we were of them,” said Moss Beach resident Brandon Barsuglia, 20. “It was unnecessary to be so trigger happy.”

Barsuglia was one of the first people to spot the two cougars late in the day on Friday near the end of Correas Street in Half Moon Bay. The two lions, estimated to be no more than 10 months old, were evidently separated from their mother and had wandered to the neighborhood from the open space east of Arroyo Leon.

Hanging out that day at a friend’s home, Barsuglia says one of the lions hopped into the backyard while the other stayed on the street.

By that point, bystanders had already alerted authorities. When San Mateo County Sheriff’s deputies arrived, they were prepared to take measures to prevent a public threat.

But witnesses say no danger ever materialized. At one point, Barsuglia, his friend and a Sheriff’s deputy cornered one of the young lions against a fence and watched its behavior. He estimated they were standing about three feet from the cougar for more than an hour.

“The lion was cool as could be, and it was moving real cautiously,” he said.

About six neighbors and deputies followed the other mountain lion out on Correas.

Sheriff’s deputies were advised by Fish and Game officials to give the mountain lions a clear path back into the wilderness. Residents along Correas say state wardens declined that day to come out to the incident.

The lions apparently hid from the rain for the night underneath a porch at the end of San Benito Street. On Saturday, the lions stayed in the neighborhood. The Sheriff’s Office was called out again, and this time two Fish and Game wardens also responded.

Around 6 p.m., residents asked to stay in their homes heard the sound of shots being fired, but they were under the impression that the cougars were tranquilized and being relocated. Three days later, they learned the animals were actually killed.

In the aftermath of the shooting, the Fish and Game handling of the situation has faced growing scrutiny from media organizations and conservationists. On Tuesday evening, Half Moon Bay Councilman John Muller emphasized during a public meeting that the city had nothing to do with the decision to put down the lions. By Thursday evening, the state agency appointed a new press spokesperson for the third time to handle inquiries about the cougar shooting.

Fish and Game officials explained that several factors went into the call to put down the cougars, but their main priority was protecting public safety. The animals demonstrated they were habituated to being in contact with humans, indicating they could return and present a threat, particularly to young children, said Fish and Game spokesman Mark Michilizzi.

“This situation was thought out carefully,” he said. “A cat at that age is capable of killing game, that’s the age they’re learning to hunt. They’re a lot stronger than what you think.”

Fish and Game officials last estimated the cougars were 10 months old and weighed between 25 to 30 pounds.

Fish and Game officials say their wardens considered using tranquilizer guns, but the animals could have gone berserk for the period before the sedative took effect. Even if the animals were subdued without harm, Michilizzi said they lacked an appropriate place to release the animals. There are many wild animal rehabilitation facilities throughout the state, he explained, but none are permitted to house mountain lions. Some zoos in the state have been known to house mountain lions, but those animals in captivity would have trouble being released back into the wild.

A predator at the top of the food chain, mountain lions generally seek to avoid contact with humans, and actual attacks are rare. The last fatal mauling in California occurred in 2004 in Orange County.

Welcome to the discussion.

28 comments:

  • Seldom- posted at 8:41 pm on Thu, Dec 13, 2012.

    Seldom- Posts: 3

    That's wonderfully tolerant.

     
  • John Charles Ullom posted at 7:07 pm on Thu, Dec 13, 2012.

    John Charles Ullom Posts: 1051

    OK but I am pretty sure my dog could not care less about what you have to say. He is an animal.

    I agree with your assessment of equestrians but they kicked me off the single track on Mt Tam.They don't have much use for me either. Screw 'em.

     
  • Snoopy posted at 4:35 pm on Thu, Dec 13, 2012.

    Snoopy Posts: 19

    @Ullom. "horses are stupid animals that are best ignored"

    "There are no stupid horses, there are only stupid horse owners." -- Snoopy

    Tell that to your stupid dog on your next chow down.

     
  • John Charles Ullom posted at 3:56 pm on Thu, Dec 13, 2012.

    John Charles Ullom Posts: 1051

    ...known person to sight aliens at Roswell.

    I forgot about that.

    The world is depending on you.


    Good luck with that.

     
  • Snoopy posted at 2:44 pm on Thu, Dec 13, 2012.

    Snoopy Posts: 19

    @Ullom. You are the master of the universe, the deer whisperer, and the last known person to sight aliens at Roswell. Congratulations. The world is depending on you.

     
  • John Charles Ullom posted at 12:43 pm on Thu, Dec 13, 2012.

    John Charles Ullom Posts: 1051

    You apparently know nothing about the actual deer population around Half Moon Bay.

    Not much. That is true. I know that the lions find them tasty, about one per week ends up as a hood ornament around here, and that my dog hates 'em something fierce. I don't get the dog. He likes my cats, could care less about cows, has no problems with Lamas, and knows that horses are stupid animals that are best ignored. But he hates deer. I just don't get the dog but then I don't get most people.

    Maybe they are saving their money to buy beer. Maybe their culture just likes hunting wild animals and butchering them together with their friends for barbecue.

    It has been my experience the venison is too dry to barbecue. Stew or sausage is about the only way I like mine.

    The cubs are not going to venture into other adult mountain lion territory.

    Which is why the idea of quick catch and release into the wild would result in a rather inhumane death for those cubs. Life in a cage was the only other option.

    Secondly, nobody said poachers were taking game to feed their families.

    Not true. I said it. Secondly, in some parts of America, that is true. Including California.

    This conjecture is as viable as the one you seem to have, driving all over the bay area from the comfort of your car everyday.

    Well in fact, on most days, I ride a bike into town, take the 294 to Hillsdale, and then take a train to the Lawrence Station in Sunnyvale. I suppose that give me even less credibility than deer population experts such as you enjoy.

     
  • Snoopy posted at 11:04 am on Thu, Dec 13, 2012.

    Snoopy Posts: 19

    @Ullom. First of all sir, your statements on poaching are irrelevant. You apparently know nothing about the actual deer population around Half Moon Bay. Beyond the soil farm there was a very large deer population. It is substantially diminished. The cubs are not going to venture into other adult mountain lion territory.

    Secondly, nobody said poachers were taking game to feed their families. Maybe they just like deer meat. Maybe they are saving their money to buy beer. Maybe their culture just likes hunting wild animals and butchering them together with their friends for barbecue. This conjecture is as viable as the one you seem to have, driving all over the bay area from the comfort of your car everyday.

     
  • Snoopy posted at 10:55 am on Thu, Dec 13, 2012.

    Snoopy Posts: 19

    It's far more likely that a Half Moon Bay resident would have been injured or killed by a ricochet or stray bullet from the Department of Fish and Game own shooter, than by an attack from ANY mountain lion, irrespective of these teeny cubs wandering around.

     
  • John Gruver posted at 11:29 am on Wed, Dec 12, 2012.

    John Gruver Posts: 122

    Petition signed. Please be sure to sign it also!

     
  • John Charles Ullom posted at 2:49 pm on Tue, Dec 11, 2012.

    John Charles Ullom Posts: 1051

    I also highly doubt (around here anyway) that people are poaching to feed their families.

    Then why are people poaching around here? I doubt that anybody is but if so, it is minor.

    But, I did find this: -- http://www.fs.fed.us/psw/publications/Popular/mtnlions.html

    Which does augment your argument. I would not have thought that deer populations have plummeted but in fact they have. From what I can tell though, urban sprawl, not poachers, are responsible.

     
  • Seldom- posted at 12:25 pm on Tue, Dec 11, 2012.

    Seldom- Posts: 3

    John-
    Unfortunately, just because you see deer doesn't mean that there are plenty of deer. You can't pass that factor off so lightly. Just because there's some near the roads and houses doesn't mean there are up in the hills as well.
    I also highly doubt (around here anyway) that people are poaching to feed their families. That's a bogus reason, to try to pass the fault off to something else like the economy.

     
  • John Charles Ullom posted at 11:21 am on Tue, Dec 11, 2012.

    John Charles Ullom Posts: 1051

    I saw a herd of deer in Pescadero the other day. I see deer every day that drive. I see them all along 280. I see them up and down 92.

    There are plenty of deer. When I take the 294, I see them in front yards. I see them in back yards when I ride the train.

    Those cubs lost their mother. The lack of deer, (there are plenty of deer), is not why those cubs were hungry.

    Finally, the reason that people poach deer is that those people are hungry and have families to feed. Times are hard Red. People come first. But there are plenty of deer.

     
  • Snoopy posted at 5:45 pm on Mon, Dec 10, 2012.

    Snoopy Posts: 19

    The Department of Fish and Game needs to find out who is poaching the deer that the cougars usually eat. There is no reason for these cubs to venture from the wooded hills except to find food.

    They cannot find food. Why is that? Maybe because certain people are poaching the deer in the area? The Department of Fish and Game better start doing their job.

    It's shameful that we saw almost no deer in the fields this year. Why is that? Look for deer poachers, Warden. Do a better job. Start arresting deer poachers and stop shooting cougar cubs. That's the right answer. As it is, the Wardens must be clueless about why there are no deer in the fields this year. Gee. I wonder why.

     
  • Danismaximus posted at 1:58 pm on Mon, Dec 10, 2012.

    Danismaximus Posts: 15

    Patrick, the only problem with your post is that you are using Fish & Game's website and statistics. This is what the Mountain Lion Foundation has to say about California's mountain lion population.

    http://mountainlion.org/us/ca/-ca-portal.asp

     
  • PC in HMB posted at 11:59 am on Sun, Dec 9, 2012.

    PC in HMB Posts: 2

    I went hiking on Montara Mountain last weekend, and came across several ML tracks on the main hiking paths, which lead into some very inhospitable terrain.


    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OGfxD5hcInw

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MUPqkc8Jjk4

    http://www.dfg.ca.gov/news/issues/lion/lion_faq.html

     
  • Tyler Durden posted at 11:32 am on Sun, Dec 9, 2012.

    Tyler Durden Posts: 412

    The wardens are basically wannebe cops with a cowboy mentality, They get to carry guns and then are always on the lookout for some excuse to use them.

     
  • Kathy Love Betts posted at 10:05 am on Sun, Dec 9, 2012.

    Kathy Love Betts Posts: 4

    I just signed the petition "Governor Jerry Brown: Fish and Game must develop and follow a formal plan for mountain lions" and wanted to see if you could help by adding your name...Below the the web address...cut and paste to your brower..


    https://www.change.org/petitions/governor-jerry-brown-fish-and-game-must-develop-and-follow-a-formal-plan-for-mountain-lions

     
  • John Gruver posted at 10:56 am on Sat, Dec 8, 2012.

    John Gruver Posts: 122

    People need to press the state agency, the old-guy governor, and the San Mateo County Sheriff's office. BS on all of them!

     
  • John Gruver posted at 10:54 am on Sat, Dec 8, 2012.

    John Gruver Posts: 122

    TOTAL B.S. CA F&G CANNOT DO ANYTHING BUT KILL ANIMALS!

     
  • linda posted at 11:09 pm on Fri, Dec 7, 2012.

    linda Posts: 15

    From the pictures, the little cubs appear too small to be a real threat to humans.

    It is so sad that they were killed. They could have been trapped and sent to a wildlife center.

    My husband and I encountered a full-size mountain lion on a local trail. When it saw us, all it did was slink off over a small hill and disappear.

     
  • EG posted at 4:10 pm on Fri, Dec 7, 2012.

    EG Posts: 1

    This is extremely sad.

     
  • Kathy Love Betts posted at 3:27 pm on Fri, Dec 7, 2012.

    Kathy Love Betts Posts: 4

    I am leaving flowers at the corner of San Benito and Miramontes Street, Half Moon Bay, in remembrance of the 2 mountain lion cubs shot and killed by Fish & Game last Saturday ...Please show our City officals we care and do not want this to ever happen again...Please join me.

     
  • John Charles Ullom posted at 1:55 pm on Fri, Dec 7, 2012.

    John Charles Ullom Posts: 1051

    I asked a very committed advocate for wild animals, Julia J. Di Sieno, a question.

    Is anybody catching, raising, and releasing Mountain Lion Cubs?

    Here is her response, verbatim.

    This is the million $ question. DFG claims it CANNOT be done. Yes, there are 2 facilities in Calif. that takes in orphaned cubs. Usually the outcome is placing them into a sanctuary setting. This is far more humane than shooting first!

    Thank you,


    Julia J. Di Sieno
    Animal Rescue Team, Inc.
    Executive Director, co-founder
    805 896-1859

    That is a good story you linked to, QT. Did you notice that even though the coyotes were attacking and stalking dogs on leashes, the guy in Animal Control was criticized for doing what he thought was the best thing? Sort of ironic in the context of this situation, no?

    Do you suppose somebody might have called him a goon? There were no goons involved QT. Just people who had to make a call.

     
  • Quiptographer posted at 10:32 am on Fri, Dec 7, 2012.

    Quiptographer Posts: 3

    I nominate the "hero" who shot the cubs for the GOON OF THE YEAR AWARD.

    Past winners include the goon who summarily shot the pet deer at the tracking station.

    What did these two timid cubs do besides try to find shelter from the horrible rainstorms going on? You'd hide under a house too.


    On the other hand, here's a case in which Fish and Game had coyotes killed in Golden Gate Park, but only after they'd repeatedly attacked and stalked dogs on leashes (meaning a human was right there in the fray). . http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/GOLDEN-GATE-PARK-Killing-of-2-coyotes-defended-2581258.php

     
  • NACHOS posted at 8:34 am on Fri, Dec 7, 2012.

    NACHOS Posts: 29

    I understand this as a last ditch attempt. However, first off.... no other agencies specializing in this sort of thing were contacted... they saw them on Friday, and shot then saturday evening... that is more than enough time to call those who have the proper traps or at least have them at the ready. Catching a deer is actually far FAR more dangerous than 2 cubs trying to hide... Yes, I agree there is a safety concern, but what really bothers me is the lame excuse ' that it would never work' and the lack of communication with outside sources.

     
  • Zack B posted at 7:01 am on Fri, Dec 7, 2012.

    Zack B Posts: 157

    It is sad to have had these wild creatures destroyed. But those who expressed outrage at the shootings of the cougar would be just as vocal had one of their family members been mauled to death, complaining about the lack of safety in our community.

     
  • Moss Beach Mom posted at 10:39 pm on Thu, Dec 6, 2012.

    Moss Beach Mom Posts: 40

    "...the animals could have gone berserk before period before the sedative took effect."
    It that their excuse for killing cubs that could have been saved? 'Sounds pretty lame to me. I am still outraged by what F & G did. They made a bad decision and just don't want to admit it. Shame on them.

     
  • BigPumpkin posted at 8:36 pm on Thu, Dec 6, 2012.

    BigPumpkin Posts: 145

    So, state fish and game will not grant permits to rescue groups to house and rehabilitate Mountain Lions, but then murders mountain lions because there is no where to house or rehabilitate them?

    Is that double think? What an asinine thing to say.

    Fire all five members of the state fish and game commission immediately.

     

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