Updated at the bottom with a photo of the poor thing before it died. But it was no “baby,” says the Santa Monica Police Department.
News helicopters swarmed above a glass business courtyard on Santa Monica's swanky 2nd Street all morning — visible from rush hour on the PCH — as Santa Monica police worked with Department of Fish and Game officials to round up an 80-pound baby mountain lion.
But after a tranquilizer dart, a round of “pepper balls” and multiple blasts from a Fire Department hose, the wild animal was still in danger of escaping the courtyard…
… Santa Monica Police Sergeant Robert Almada tells Patch. So “the officers had to euthanize the animal.”
We've contacted Almada to confirm whether Fish and Game agents or local cops were the ones to fire the fatal bullets. [Update: KTLA reporter Eric Spillman Tweets that “a Santa Monica Police officer actually fired the shots that killed the #mountainlion.”]
A janitor at the property (in the 1200 block of 2nd Street; see above) reportedly came across the mountain lion in the early morning hours, and immediately called 911. According to City News Service, cops surrounded the building until Fish and Game could take over.
The whole pursuit lasted about three hours.
The male mountain lion — estimated to weigh 80 pounds — apparently jumped over an eight-foot fence to enter the courtyard area.
Police have been telling reporters throughout the morning that they've seen other species come down from the Santa Monica Mountains — raccoons, deer, etc. — but never a mountain lion.
Update No. 1: About one month ago, Fish and Game killed another 80-pound mountain lion in Sunland, after a resident spotted it lurking near her garage. That caused some controversy among animal advocates, who said that the mountain lion wasn't trying to hurt anybody and should have just been tranquilized.
But department spokesman Andrew Hughan told the Weekly after that shooting: “Putting a tranquilizing dart is not like the movies. It takes 10 minutes or more for darts to take effect. … If you dart that lion and it runs out onto the 210 at 4 p.m. on a Friday afternoon, you can imagine the carnage.”
The bastard Santa Monica police killed that baby mountain lion! Per the news only one tranquilizer dart was tried. Stick to giving tickets.
— Dirtie Blonde (@dirtieb) May 22, 2012
Update No. 2: KTLA's Eric Spillman just Tweeted an aerial photo of the young mountain lion before it died. This is apparently the courtyard in which it was trapped.
Update No. 3: Sergeant Almada tells us that Fish and Game agents were the ones to “employ the tranquilizer dart.”
But when that proved “ineffective,” he says the Santa Monica PD shot the mountain lion with pepper balls and the L.A. County Fire Department sprayed it with their high-pressure hoses.
At that point, Santa Monica police decided that the animal was still a threat, and “regretably,” says Almada, “we had to use lethal force.”
But he disputes the word “baby” in our headline. The cat was a “full-grown 3-year-old male,” says the sergeant.