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Mountain lion found on freeway had its paws cut off

April 25, 2012 | 11:01 am

Mountain lions are a protected species in California

This post has been corrected. See the note at the bottom for details.

A dead mountain lion found Tuesday in Santa Barbara County on the 101 Freeway had its paws cut off, and Fish and Game authorities are investigating the incident.

It is illegal to possess mountain lion parts in California.

The California Highway Patrol received the initial call a little after 5 a.m. when a motorist reported “a deer” in the No. 2 lane of the southbound 101 a few miles south of Buellton, according to Danette Yriarte, dispatch supervisor with the California Highway Patrol in San Luis Obispo.

After the mountain lion carcass was moved out of sight of traffic, State Fish and Game warden Jim Solis was dispatched to the scene. When he discovered the animal, according to Andrew Hughan, spokesperson for Fish and Game, he noticed that the front paws had been sawed off. After collecting evidence, Solis removed the body farther into the brush.

After seeing a fawn on the side of the road, Solis suspected that the mountain lion had been chasing a deer across the highway when it was struck by a passing vehicle.  

With the passage of Proposition 117 in 1990, mountain lions are classified in California as a “specially protected species,” and hunting them is illegal in the state. Earlier this year, the president of the Fish and Game commission was criticized by state legislators for participating in a mountain lion hunt in Idaho.

Fish and Game is hoping to recover the paws of the mountain lion and are asking anyone with information to call Cal-TIP –- (888) 334-2258 –- a confidential line for turning in poachers and polluters in the state.

[For the record April 25, 12:34 p.m.: A previous version of this post incorrectly stated the incident occurred in San Luis Obispo County.]

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-- Thomas Curwen

Photos: Mountain lions are a protected species in California. Credit: Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area

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