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Animal advocates to protest mountain lion killing in Santa Monica

May 30, 2012 |  9:17 am

 

Wildlife experts and animal rights advocates plan to hold a news conference Wednesday afternoon in Santa Monica to protest the police killing of a mountain lion that roamed through a busy downtown area.

In Defense of Animals, a nonprofit animal protection organization, will host the 1 p.m. news conference outside Santa Monica City Hall, just blocks from where the lion was fatally shot last week by officers.

The group  hopes to provide a forum for others to vent their frustrations and to formulate a new course of action when dealing with wild animals, said Bill Dyers, a regional director for In Defense of Animals.

"I can't think of an animal rights issue that has caused more tears and outrage," he said Wednesday.

Dyers said the group has heard from concerned animal lovers across the world, and more than 1,600 people have signed an online petition calling for changes in how authorities deal with wild animals.

Shortly before sunrise May 22, a 90-pound lion made its way down from a nearby mountain range and into the bustling Santa Monica shopping district. A janitor spotted the lion in the U-shaped courtyard and called police.

Authorities said they made several attempts to sedate and safely remove it, and wardens from the California Department of Fish and Game shot the lion with a tranquilizing dart. It became agitated and tried to flee the courtyard. Non-lethal bullets and a fire hose were used to try to keep it confined to the area, but when the mountain lion lunged at a police officer, it was shot and killed.

Animal rights advocates said the authorities could have done more to save the animal's life.

"We have to coexist," said Jack Carone, the IDA communications director.  "A mountain lion doesn't expect to find a city. Trespassing should not be punishable by death."

Carone does not want to point fingers at officials, he said. Instead, he hopes all agencies will come together to devise “a solid strategy, including all equipment necessary to handle similar situations.”

"I'm sure the responders did everything they could in that moment" to save the lion, he said. "But next time something like this happens, there needs to be a more concerted effort so there is a happy conclusion."

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-- Angel Jennings

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