May 25, 2013

A First


Last week's mountain lion rescue wasn't our first...

On March 9th, at about 6:30 PM, WES received a call from a Wildlife Officer with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife about a young mountain lion, estimated to be about 15-20 pounds. 

The cub had made its way into a residential backyard in Almaden, at the base of the Los Capitancillos hills. Frightened, it sought shelter up inside a densely foliated shrub where it felt hidden and protected.

WES' lead capture specialists, Duane and Rebecca, responded immediately. Together, along with officers from the San Jose Police Department, San Jose Animal Care and Services Department and four Wildlife Officers, they assisted in safely capturing the cub. 


The mountain lion cub was severely underweight.

It was transported to the Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley where it was sedated and examined by Wildlife Rehabilitation Supervisor, Ashley Kinney.

The male cub, estimated to be about 5 months old, weighted only 15 pounds - it was severely underweight, dehydrated and infested with fleas and ticks. After administering fluids, the young mountain lion was allowed to rest overnight.

Ashley Kinney administers fluid to the emaciated cub.

The next day, the cub was transported to CDFW’s Wildlife Investigations Laboratory (WIL) in Rancho Cordova. There, it received additional treatments, and various diagnostic tests, all of which came back negative for disease.

WIL veterinarians and staff closely monitored the emaciated cat's progress as it
was slowly introduced to appropriate foods. Once healthy and fit, the cat could be placed at a sanctuary or educational institution.

The successful rehabilitation and release of Florida panthers by White Oak Conservation Center suggests a cub this age is a good candidate for rehabilitation, unfortunately, however, the rehabilitation and re-wilding of mountain lions in California is not permitted at this time, but, there is legislation pending, SB 132 (Hill), that might allow for it in the future.

It wasn't long before the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum expressed interest in providing a permanent home for the cub. After approvals for his placement were granted by both state wildlife agencies, on April 15, the cub was transferred to their compound in Tucson, ArizonaAlthough this cat will spend the rest of its life in captivity, it will be housed in a very large enclosure that resembles a natural environment. Check out a 360 view of it, HERE.

We want to thank the
 leadership of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife for proposed changes to the Department's mountain lion policies and procedures to include non-lethal action when possible, and assistance from approved NGOs when appropriate. See the March 1, 2013 draft HERE.

We are extremely honored to have assisted in two situations where such collaboration among multiple responding agencies and outside specialists proved successful in containing and removing mountain lions from urban areas, safely and without harm.

If you'd like to send a letter of appreciation to the Department for taking these measures, please write to the CDFW Director Charlton Bonham, 1416 Ninth St., 12th Floor, Sacramento, CA 95814 or email him at director@wildlife.ca.gov.