The California Department of Fish and Wildllfe has sent out a news release touting the “success” of DFW Director Charlton Bonham’s new policy to be kindler and gentler to mountain lions threatening people, pets and livestock. What would you expect?
They say that they have seen “a significant reduction” in mountain lions killed as a result of the policy,” but go on to say “without a risk to public safety.” How can that be? If there are mountain lions killing stock or pets, or in close association with humans, how can not eliminating them be “without risk?” The new policy does what the animal-rights organizations have been wanting — using non-lethal options — and Bonham listened and acted.
“I’m pleased that we have struck the balance and are witnessing fewer mountain lions killed without sacrificing any wildlife officer’s authority to make the correct public safety call for each situation,” said Bonham. But that’s not what those wildlife officers are saying behind the scene. The ones we spoke with have said unequivocally that “their hands are tied” by the new policy, and they are concerned about lions that have lost their fear of man still living and killing in inhabited areas.
“Sometimes you can find a mountain lion or bear in an unusual location otherwise behaving normally,” said CDFW Law Enforcement Chief Mike Carion. “It isn’t always a threat to public safety. Every situation is unique. We are pleased that this policy allows us to evaluate each situation carefully and to choose a solution which allows a co-existence between humans and wildlife while allowing discretion to act when there is a public safety issue.”
Meanwhile, while the in-field officers are “evaluating each decision,” and communicating with those who ultimately make the decision, the lions and bears are long gone, or temporarily scared away, leaving the threat unsecured and still in existence.
Combine this new policy with it now being illegal to hunt bears with dogs, and with the ever-increasing population of predators in this state continuing to grow and kill — and there will be far more encounters of the dangerous kind in the future, thanks to Mr. Bonham’s bowing, once again, to the animal-rights extremists.
Bill Karr is Northern California editor of Western Outdoor News.