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Puma killing prompts procedure change for Santa Monica police

Photo by Santa Monica Police Department via PatrickNBCLA/Twitter

Santa Monica police have responded to the controversial fatal shooting of a puma last month by revising the department's procedure for handling free-roaming wildlife in an urban setting.

Officers, activists and veterinarians met with Fish and Game and National Park Service reps this week to discuss a new approach to animal encounters, and "the inherent risks and the reasonableness of those methods when applicable in real-life scenarios," the police department said in a release.

Acknowledging public safety as the primary consideration, as well as the value of safe capture of wildlife, the focus group produced a plan to provide officers with additional training, and to provide the department with specialized equipment to aid in future scenarios.

The Santa Monica Police Department has committed to:

  • Develop a notification system inclusive of verified, local subject matter experts qualified in wildlife capture.
  • Provide pre-incident training to first response personnel should a similar incident occur.
  • Acquire appropriate equipment and tools related to wildlife capture.
  • Support on-going efforts to achieve long-term solutions to reduce the likelihood of wildlife entering densely populated urban environs.

The May 22 killing caused an uproar in the community as details of the situation emerged. The mountain lion was discovered in the courtyard of 1227 2nd Street where controversial attempts to contain the animal using a tranquilizer dart, pepper ball, and fire hose, were unsuccessful.

Adding to the outrage was DNA evidence suggesting the Santa Monica cat may have been the offspring of P-12, the only puma known by Park Service biologists to ever cross the 101 Freeway.