Mountain lions, by nature, have a strong aversion to humans. Unfortunately, that does not prevent the extremely rare encounters with the large cats. Even though attacks on humans have been few and far between (less than 60 attacks in the past hundred years, the vast majority of which were nonfatal), these attacks are 100% unacceptable and many of these majestic cats are put down for any attack on humans or pets and livestock. Even though we cannot change this strict policy, organizations have been established for a safer and more successful co-inhabitation of California. In particular, the government organization “Keep Me Wild” tries to spread awareness about how to avoid unfortunate encounters. On their website, they outline basic tips on controlling your behaviors and surroundings as to minimize the chances of drawing the mountain lion. Common sense things such as avoiding walking alone or letting out pets during the moutain lion’s active hours (dusk, dawn) and clearing your yard of food and plants that attract deer, which in turn attract the lions, are some of the points outlined. This organization is exemplary in its message of coexisting and being mindful of the wildlife that also has a right to live in the beautiful and rocky terrains of California.

The California Department of Fish and Game believe that there are between 4,000 and 6,000 mountain lions that are currently residing in the state. They believe this because back in 1972 they did a study and the CDFG acknowledges, “any statewide estimate of the mountain lion population is just a guesstimate and that without an ongoing statewide mountain lion study, it is impossible to know what is happening on a statewide basis with the lion populations”. At one time the mountain lions were classified as being a “bountied predator” from the years 1907 to 1963, a record of 12,461 mountain lions were killed and turned in for the bounty. Eventually in 1963 the bounty for the mountain lions was repealed and then the species was reclassified as a “non-protected mammal”. Then in 1969, they were reclassified again as a “game mammal” this was to manage the mountain lions through regulated hunting and to control supposed livestock damage. On June 5, 1990 with a 52.42 percent of the vote, which was officially known as the California Wildlife Protection Act, reclassified mountain lions in the state of California as a “specially protected mammal”, this permanently banned the sport of hunting of lions in the state. Since 1907 an estimated amount of 15,151 mountain lions have been killed by humans. This doesn’t include deaths from road accidents, secondary poisoning, kittens or injured adults euthanized by CDFG, death by unknown causes and poaching. 

Works Cited:

http://www.dfg.ca.gov/keepmewild/lion.html

http://www.mountainlion.org/states/_state_California.asp

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11 responses »

  1. Leo Costa says:

    Organizations such as “keep me wild” are great examples of finding non-violent solutions to deal with dangerous species. They aim at raising awareness of the danger of that species and how to minimize chances of encountering that danger.

  2. I’m from NY and frequently visited central state hunting camps in the Adirondack Mountains. It’s cool that almost every single “Keep Me Wild” tip to avoid mountain lions is also said in the Adirondacks in order to keep away from bear attacks. So are their different types of mountain lions in California or are they all classified as the same species?

  3. April Manuel says:

    I feel bad for animals that are just trying to live in their environment that we take over. By building over it and building highways between it. In a video we watched in class I remember seeing this but that now they have to get permission where they want to build. Incase it is in an area that would bother the large cats.

    It is unfortunate that the large cats attack humans but they don’t know better. They are predators. We should help protect all the animals on the planet and hopefully more organizations will help.

  4. Kasia Dybek says:

    This is a very interesting and new way of describing biodiversity issues. I am very impressed with the non-violent steps taken by the organization ‘Keep Me Wild’. It does not only serve to protect the animals, but also local people who could get hurt from them. Based on a mutual understanding of the problem, one could really see how important it is to keep the balance in the environment. Before passing the California Wildlife Protection Act over 20 years ago, it was the state of human domination. Now, being aware of how crucial the balance is, we need to protect human population and animals. Living in such close distance from each other, we must provide the protection for the fauna and flora, that has been endangered by human development and rapid growth.

    – Kasia (Katarzyna) Dybek

  5. Ashley Raynor says:

    Wierd to think that in California, it is common to come across a wild cat such as a mountain lion. Here in Florida, we have panthers and other wild cats, but I feel like we don’t have as much undeveloped land like California where the mountain lions can live.

  6. bhall1 says:

    For a while there people couldn’t really make up their minds on whether or not to kill mountain lions. About two years ago a mountain lion would come through my town on the regular and kill our deer, until the DEC tranquilized it and got it out of there. Don’t take mountain lions lightly, they’re fearsome.

  7. I had absolutely no idea there were any species of wild large cats in the United States at all let alone mountain lions. I find that very interesting. I can’t believe i didn’t know that. It seems so weird to me for some reason. I also think that the problem can be remedied by just raising awareness about how to approach and coexist peacefully with these beautiful wild creatures.

  8. Grace Betts says:

    It makes me glad to know that there are organizations out there such as ‘Keep Me Wild’ to assist in the preservation of such a special predator. But the laws out there regarding how to handle them once they have made an ‘attack’ are completely ridiculous. Common sense should really play a factor of how we should deal with these mammals, understanding that they live in one of the most highly populated states in the US.

  9. Dave Swanson says:

    i swear i’ll never understand how they classify some animals. It is good to know that they are taking steps to preserve one of california’s iconic animals though. If only more states and even countries would follow their lead we would be on a fast track towards a more bountiful world.

  10. A very interesting history of mountain lion legislation in California! I am very pleased with the awareness promoted by “Keep Me Wild.”

    ~CJ Hipp

  11. It’s hard to know that for such a long period of time, we hunted the animals who belonged to the area just becuse they posed a threat to our lives. In my eyes, we should have given them the utmost superiority and classified them as protected first. I feel like we just think we can barge in and say, “Oh, you live in this place? Well, we want to instead, and you’re dangerous.” No. They were here first. It’s good to know, though, that after hunting them for so long, we now recognize that they deserve to, and should have, been given some thought as to how they are a part of the biodiversity there. Just like Florida panthers and big cats, we need to realize that we’re more of an invasive species than anything.
    -Ailish Reilly

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