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Some outraged over killing of mountain lion in Santa Monica

May 22, 2012 |  3:22 pm

Some expressed outrage Tuesday that officers killed a 75-pound mountain lion that had wandered into downtown Santa Monica instead of capturing it and releasing it into the wild.

When Bill Dyer, 78, heard that Santa Monica Police Department officers shot and killed the big cat, he rushed over from his Venice home. Dyer was upset and said officers were too quick to reach for their weapons when dealing with animals.

“What was the rush?” asked Dyer, a regional director for In Defense of Animals, an international nonprofit animal protection organization. “They should have taken their time. This land belongs to the animals, too. This is not just our land.”

Before 6 a.m. a janitor discovered a mountain lion in the courtyard of a Santa Monica office building.  Officers called agents with the state Department  of Fish and Game to the 1200 block of 2nd Street after determining the large cat was indeed a mountain lion.

The cat, which earlier was called a juvenile female, is now being described as an adult male, approximately 3 years old and weighing 75 to 90 pounds.  Officers shot and killed the animal after a tranquilizer dart, a fire hose and other efforts failed to contain it, said Santa Monica Police Lt. Robert Almada.

“A variety of means were used to try to keep the animal back in the courtyard,” he said. “The animal continued to charge and attempted to flee. ... It was euthanized to protect the public safety.”

But Dyer said officers should have done more to protect the cat. He and other bystanders stood Tuesday outside yellow caution tape that roped off 2nd Street and Arizona Avenue. He waited patiently for a chance to ask authorities about the shooting.

“My question is, ‘Is this going to be their policy? When in doubt kill?'" he said.

Synnove Naess, of Santa Monica, expressed similar concerns. She was visibily shaken after learning the cat was killed in the neighborhood where she attends art class.

"Everybody is so devastated about this," she said.  "I'm just so sad.  This could happen again.  Are they going to shoot animals every time this happens?"

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-- Angel Jennings

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