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Lions In Town: Bullet or Tranquilizer?

Full disclosure, this will be an op-ed, perhaps a bit of a rant even, but I can’t help it, so here we go! 

Recently a mountain lion was discovered chilling in a basement egress window well in a Cheyenne, Wyoming suburb. The homeowner reported the incident to Wyoming Game and Fish and game wardens were dispatched to deal with the predator. So far so good… 

Once on the scene the wardens attempted to coax the lion out of the window well with a ladder. This effort was met with resistance from the now upset lion, who apparently didn’t appreciate having her nap interrupted. Subsequently, the wardens were forced to tranquilize the lion, remove her through the home, not sure why they couldn’t lift her out of the window well, and relocate her into some nearby mountains. All’s well that ends well… or is it?

Here’s where my questions/opinions begin…

How much did this effort cost the taxpayers of Wyoming? I’m thinking of money for tranquilizer and gas to relocate. In a time when our Game and Fish Department is scrambling for sufficient funding, was this the most cost effective way to handle the situation? A bullet would have been a lot cheaper. OR how about a choke stick used to the point of lethality?  Won’t this lion just come right back? It is obviously habituated to people and suburban neighborhoods with dogs, chickens and whatever else it can eat within easy reach. Not to mention if it’s comfortable enough with humans to sleep in a window well, how long before it sees humans, especially children, as food? Even if the cat doesn’t return, will our “benevolent” actions of capture and relocation doom this lion to exile in an environment where it may or may not be able to thrive? If this cat, and others like it, are raised on handouts from people, (chickens, dogs, cats) will they possess the skills needed to survive in the wild or have our misguided policies sentenced these animals to the sad end of starvation? 

As I travel the West, visiting with folks, both hunters and non-hunters, stories such as this are becoming more prevalent in regards to large predators, be they lions, wolves or bears. I’m all for giving wayward animals a second chance but I question the sanity of letting a lion, who’s obviously very comfortable around humans, the opportunity to escalate her behavior to the point of tragedy. I HOPE I’m missing pertinent facts from this story but the modern trend of trap and transfer is disturbingly widespread and one that, in my opinion, is misguided. 

What say you? Bullet or Tranquilizer? 

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