A mountain lion trapped this morning in downtown Santa Monica had to be killed to protect the safety of the public and first responders.
Department of Fish and Game (DFG) law enforcement was contacted early this morning with a credible report of a juvenile lion near the corner of Second Street and Wilshire Blvd. DFG staff responded immediately to assess the situation and to provide support to the Santa Monica Police Department. Upon arrival the first DFG warden confirmed the animal was a mountain lion and was not near any suitable habitat, so plans were made to attempt a capture so that the animal could be released to open space. Additional DFG law enforcement officers were deployed to assist.
Approximately 9:30 a.m., the lion was darted with a tranquilizer by DFG staff in an attempt to immobilize the cat for transport. DFG staff, Santa Monica Police and the Santa Monica Fire Department used three non-lethal methods – the tranquilizer dart, pepper ball, and fire hoses – to discourage the lion from leaving the contained area until the tranquilizer took effect. However, the lion began to run and could not be kept within the safe containment area established by DFG and police. The lion was shot by Santa Monica Police officers to prevent it from running through a populated area where pedestrians and cars were present.
“Our hope is always to be able to return wild animals back to their natural habitat,” said DFG Assistant Chief Paul Hamdorf. “However, public safety is our number one priority. We appreciate the cooperation and assistance that the Santa Monica Police provided, and support the decisions that were made in the field.”
The lion died at the scene and was transported to a lab for necropsy.
It is unknown how or why the lion made its way to such a busy urban area.
Paul Hamdorf, DFG Law Enforcement, (562) 626-0025
Andrew Hughan, DFG Communications, (916) 322-8944