California paid bounties on 12,452 cougars killed between 1907 and 1963. Early bounties were $20 per lion, and by the late 1950s were increased to $50 for a male and $60 for a female. In 1969 the cat became a game animal that was hunted for sport. By 1990 the mountain lion was reclassified as a specially protected mammal, a legal status that reflects growing appreciation and concern for the big cat.
A recent increase in mountain lion sightings, as well as recent attacks on livestock, pets, and people, has led some to urge the removal of the mountain lion's protected status. In March 1996, following months of debate, Californians voted against changing the current law. Much remains to be learned about these elusive predators, and research is underway to provide some answers. Stay informed about wildlife and wildlife habitat issues in california. You can start by examining some of the literature provided on this web site.
THE CURRENT LAW
In 1990, Californian's passed Propositon 117, a law that:
- Designated the mountain lion a specially protected mammal and prohibited sport hunting of the cat.
- Established the Habitat Conservation Fund, and designated that $30,000,000 be spent each year for the next 30 years to acquire and enhance wildlife habitat throughout California. Over 150,000 acres of wetlands, riparian, and other sensitive land has been acquired since 1990, protecting endangered and threatened species, waterfowl, deer, mountain lions, and other wildlife.
- Set regulations under which a mountain lion can be killed as an imminent threat to people or property.
NEW PROPOSED LAW
In March 1996, Californian's voted on Proposition 197, a law that would have:
- Removed the mountain lion's specially protected status and require the Fish and Game Commission and the Department of Fish and Game to manage the mountain lion as any other animal that is not rare, threatened, or endangered.
- Required money be appropriated from the Habitat Conservation Fund ($250,000 the first three years and $100,000 thereafter) to pay the costs of preparing and implementing a mountain lion management plan.
- Required the Department of Fish and Game to designate priority zones where mountain lions would be removed to protect public safety, livestock, domestic animals, endangered and threatened species, and other wildlife.
One of the most controversial parts of Proposition 197 is that it would have allowed sport hunting of mountain lions.