California Interactive Map | Printables | Online Activities | Top 5 Facts | History | People | In Detail | Video Click the points of the map below to learn more Oakland Oakland is the third largest city in the "Bay Area" behind San Jose and San Francisco. It was founded in 1852 as a railroad terminus during the California Gold Rush. In 1906,its population doubled after refugees from the San Francisco Earthquake arrived in town.
In the 1920’s, the citybecame a major manufacturing center for ships, automobiles, and metals. Today, Oakland’s shipping port is the third largest on the west coast. Just to the north of Oakland lies Berkeley. Berkeley is best known as the home of the University ofCalifornia at Berkeley, the site of the nation’s two nuclear weapons labs. Back to Map Sacramento Sacramento was founded in 1839 by John Sutter, an immigrant from Switzerland who established a stockade and trading colony known as Sutter’s Fort.
After gold was discovered in the region in 1848, the town’s name was changed to Sacramento, after the Sacramento River. It was the second incorporated city in California. Perhaps no other city was as essential to the gold and land rushes of the 1850’s as Sacramento. Thousands of settlers descended upon the region, after traveling the 2,000 mile long California Trail, in the hopes of finding fortune in the gold mines.
Sacramento was made capital of California in 1855 and soon became a very important city. It was made the western terminus of the Pony Express and first Transcontinental Railroad. Today, Sacramento’s population is booming, as people leave the San Francisco Bay area in search of lower housing prices. In addition, the area has recently received an influx of immigrants. Back to Map Channel Islands National Park Channel Islands National Park, located just outside of Los Angeles, is comprised of five islands full of natural wonders.
Although only four mammals are endemic to the islands, over 2,000 species of plants and animals are found within the park, 145 of which are found nowhere else on earth. More than half of the park’s 250,000 acres are under the ocean. The park’s waters are home to the Blue Whale, the largest animal to have ever lived on earth. Back to Map Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, located in eastern California, feature the famous Giant Sequoias – huge trees that can grow to over 300 feet in height.
One of the trees, the General Sherman Tree, is the largest tree on earth. It is over 274 feet high, and over 100 feet around. It is located in the section of the park known as the "GiantForest", where five of the ten largest trees in the world arelocated. The park also contains Mt. Whitney – the highestpeak in the continental USA. Back to Map Death Valley National Park Death Valley National Park, located in eastern California, is one of the most arid places on earth.
It also contains the second lowest point in the western hemisphere (282 feetbelow sea level). Summer temp-ertures in the valley average well over 100 degrees, and the region receives a little less than two inches of rain per year. The park, however, also features incredible sand dunes, colorful badlands, rocky canyons, and hearty animals that have adapted to the harsh climate. The valley is punctuated by unusual rock formations andtowering mesas and buttes.
A mesa is an elevated area of land with a flat top, and a butte is an isolated hill with steep sides and a small, flat top. Back to Map Redwood National Park Located in the cool, misty climate of northern California’s Coast Range, Redwood National Park is a surreal place. The ancient redwood trees that populate the park are among the world’s most spectacular sights. Many of the trees exceed 300 feet in height and 20 feet in width.
Some are nearly 2,000 years old! Back to Map Los Angeles Los Angeles was founded in 1781 as Mission Nuestra Señora Reina de los Angeles by 46 Mexican settlers. After the area was ceded to the United States following theMexican-American War, the railroads came to town in 1876, and oil was found in 1892. The population quickly exploded and by 1923 Los Angeles was producing 25 percent of the world’s petroleum.
Los Angeles hosted the Summer Olympics in 1932 and 1984. Today, Los Angeles, otherwise known as "The City of Angels," or simply as "L.A.," is the nation’s second largest city, and home to major movie studios, television networks, Hollywood, and scores of famous personalities, actors, and actresses. In addition, Los Angeles is the largest manufacturing center in the United States and features the nation’s most important port.
Despite its reputation as a mecca of entertainment, Los Angeles is one of the nation’s most polluted and congested cities. Back to Map Anaheim Anaheim was founded in 1858 by a group of fifty German grape farmers. Today, it is best known as the site of the DisneyLand theme park. The park, which recently celebrated its fiftieth birthday, has attracted over 500 million visitors since it opened.
Anaheim also features twoprofessional sports teams, the Angels (baseball) and MightyDucks (Hockey). The city boasts the largest convention center on the west coast. Back to Map Lassen Volcanic National Park Lassen Volcanic National Park, located in northeastern California at the southern limit of the Cascades Range, features all four types of volcanoes that exist on Earth.Over 150 miles of trails provide access to volcanic wonders in-cluding steam vents, mudpots, boiling pools, volcanic peaks, and painted dunes.
Back to Map Joshua Tree National Park Joshua Tree National Park, located in southeastern California, marks the junction of two deserts, the Colorado Desert and the Mojave Desert. The famous Joshua Trees inhabit the Mojave portion of the park. Joshua Trees are unusual looking trees that grow only in the Mojave Desert. They can live hundreds of years and take a human lifetime to reach full height (40 feet high).
The trees were named by Mormons crossing the desert in the 1800’s. They reminded them of the biblical character Joshua reaching his hands to the sky. Back to Map Mojave Desert The Mojave desert extends through southern Nevada, northwestern Arizona, and parts of southeastern California.The region gets about six inches of rainfall per year. Most of the desert is between 3,000 and 6,000 feet in altitude.
Summers are extremely hot. Some places, like Death Valley, regularly reach temperatures of 120 degrees Fahrenheit.The Mojave is one of the most biologically rich deserts. About 2,000 species of plants have been documented. Back to Map Golden Gate Bridge The Golden Gate Bridge is an international symbol of San Francisco and the second largest suspension bridge in the United States. It spans a length of 1.
7 miles and connects the city of San Francisco with Marin County. The bridge was opened on May 27, 1937. Today, about 100,000 vehiclespass over every day. It is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, which also includes the Muir Woods and Alcatraz Island. Since its opening, over 1,300 people have committed suicide by jumping off of the bridge. 26 people have survived the jump. Back to Map Sacramento River Length: 377 miles Source: Sisikiyou County, California Outflow: Sisun Bay Back to Map San Diego The area that is now San Diego was first visited by Portuguese explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, who claimed the bay for Spain in 1542.
In 1602, the area was renamed San Diego, after the ship of Spanish sailor Don Sebastian de Viscaíno. San Diego was incorporated as an American city in 1850, after California achieved statehood. In the early and mid 1900’s, the city became a major naval port. Today, San Diego is a rapidly growing city. It has some of the mildest weather in the nation. San Diego is home to the San Diego Zoo, one the world’s premier zoological parks.
It features over 4,000 animals of 800 different species, including some of the nation’s only Giant Pandas. Back to Map San Jose Once a farming community for nearby military institutions, San Jose was the original capital of California when it gained state-hood in 1850. San Jose was one of the first incorporated cities in the state of California. Today San Jose is a bustlingcity – the center of the regionof California known as "Silicon Valley".
The region gets its name from the multitudes of high-tech companies that are headquartered in the region, including Google, Yahoo, and Intel. San Jose is the largest city in northern California, and the third largest city in the state. Just to the north of San Joselies Palo Alto, home to Stanford University. Back to Map San Francisco San Francisco, California, is one of the nation’s top tourist destinations.
It is California’s third largest city, and the 13th largest city in the United States. Because the city only occupies 47 square miles, San Francisco is the nation’s secondmost densely populated city after New York. It is nicknamed “the city by the bay,” and “fog city.” Its artistic culture, Victorian architecture, cable cars, and hilly topography, make it unique among major American cities.
San Francisco was founded during the height of the gold rush in 1849. That year, the city’s population swelled to 25,000, as people rushed to the city to seek fortunes. In 1906, an earthquake caused a fire that utterfly destroyed San Francisco. Today, however, San Francisco is the center of the region known as “Sillicon Valley,” and is home to numerous major technology companies including Twitter, Dropbox, Uber, Pinterest, Mozilla, and Craigslist.
San Francisco was also the birthplace of Levis jeans and the Gap. Surrounding areas are home to Google, Adobe, and Apple, among many others. San Francisco features many interesting landmarks. Alcatraz Island, in San Francisco Bay, was once home to America’s most secure and infamous prison. It was nicknamed “the Rock,” and it housed violent gangsters such as Al Capone and “Machine Gun” Kelly.
The Golden Gate Bridge, which connects San Francisco to Marin County, California, is one of America’s most recognizable landmarks and is the international symbol of San Francisco and the Bay area. San Francisco’s Chinatown is the largest in North America and the largest Chinese community outside of China. Back to Map Palm Springs Located east of Los Angeles, Palm Springs is the nation’s most famous desert resort area.
It features some of the nation’s best golf courses. Many settlers came to Palm Springs because of mineral springs used by the Cahuilla Indians. The Cahuilla claimed that the mineral springs had magical powers to cure illness. Back to Map Sierra Nevada Range The Sierra Nevada Range is almost entirely within California. Only a small section of the range lies in western Nevada, next to the Great Basin.
Three national parks are contained within the range, as is Lake Tahoe, one of the most popular tourist resorts in California. Length: 400 miles Highest Point: Mt. Whitney –14,494 feet. Mt. Whitney, California’s highest peak, is part of theSierra Nevada Range. Back to Map Coast Range The Coast Range is the westernmost range of a series ofranges that run along the west coast of North America known as the Pacific Cordillera.
Length: 2,300 miles Highest Point: Mt. Logan (Canada) 19,850 ft. Back to Map Yosemite National Park Located in the Sierra Nevada Range of eastern California,Yosemite is one of the oldest, and certainly one of the most spec-tacular national parks in the world. The park has too many natural wonders to describe, but features towering waterfalls, the Mariposa Grove (hundreds of Giant Sequoias), alpine valleys, and the world-famous Yosemite Valley and its amazing cliffs such as El Capitan and Half-Dome.
El-Capitan is one of the most popular rock climbing locations in the world. Back to Map Cascades Range The Beautiful Cascades Range dominates parts of Oregon and Washington state. In California, the mountains only extend into the extreme northeast corner. Length: Apx. 700 miles Highest Point: Mt. Rainier (WA) 14,411 ft Back to Map California Printables California Color-me State Symbols California Color-me State Quarter California Printable Blank Map California Printable Blank Flag California Printable Fact Sheet California Printable Scavenger Hunt Western States Label Me Map Oakland Raiders Coloring Sheet San Diego Chargers Coloring Sheet California Online Extras Redwood Activities Label, color, and print a beautiful California map online! You can even choose the font and get clues if you don’t know the location of a city, landmark, or landform.
Click the picture above. [embedded content] California State Bird: California Word Search Jigsaw The American West California State Bird: California Quail Top Five Facts 1. ) If California was its own country, it would have the world’s eighth largest economy. 2. ) California’s Sillicon Valley is home to tech giants such as Google, Adobe, Apple, Yahoo!, Uber, and many others.
3. ) The first ever McDonalds opened in San Bernardino in 1940. 4. ) California’s Mt. Whitney is the highest peak in the lower 48 states (14,494 feet). 5. ) California is the largest grape producing and wine producing state in the country. California in History 1542 – The Portuguese-born sailor, Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, becomes the first European to explore California, landing at San Diego on September 28, 1542.
He went on to discover the Catalina Islands, the sites of San Pedro, Santa Monica and the Santa Barbara Channel Islands. 1579 – Sir Francis Drake landed North of San Francisco Bay and claimed the territory for England. 1665 – José de Gálvez arrives in Mexico as Visitor General of New Spain. He launched a program of colonizing Alta California. 1767-1770 Spanish explorer Gaspar de Portola led an expedition from Mexico to make settlements in Alta California.
He would eventually found San Diego and Monterrey. 1769 Junipero Serra built the first California Mission called San Diego de Alcala 1820 Early in the nineteenth century, ships from Boston began to visit the Spanish towns and missions along the upper and lower California coast. 1846 The United States invades Mexico from the east, reaching San Diego in December. 1848 California becomes a U.S. possession with the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo, which ended the Mexican War.
1849 James Marshall discovered gold at Sutter’s sawmill in Coloma, along the south fork of the American River, thus kicking off the famous Gold Rush of 1849 from where the term “49ers” was born. 1850 California was admitted as the 31st state on September 9, 1850. 1860 – The Pony Express, a mail service between St. Louis, Missouri and Sacramento is established. 1869: The completion of the Transcontinental Railroad enables Americans from the eastern states to pack up and move to California.
Thousands upon thousands of settlers head for the “Golden State.” 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire virtually destroys the city. 1911 Hollywood’s first film studio opened. 1937 The Golden Gate Bridge was completed and was opened to pedestrian traffic. More about California in History California Gold Rush California Trail Mexican-American War California People The Work of Ansel Adams John Muir Kit Carson Ansel Adams Joe DiMaggio Willie Mays Amelia Earhart Walt Disney California in Detail Iconic Hollywood Sign Yosemite National Park Redwood National Park Lassen Volcanic National Park Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park Channel Islands National Park Death Valley National Park Joshua Tree National Park Sacramento Oakland San Jose San Francisco Los Angeles San Diego Mojave Desert Sierra Nevada Range Coast Range Golden Gate Bridge Hollywood Selected California Video – Redwood National Park [embedded content]See Also: Davidson County Animal Control
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From a jungle of rain-washed pines and junipers spearing the new blueness from the Florida sky, ran a little, tawny-haired boy. His bare feet, extending from his overalled legs, crackled against the fallen palmettos. He leaped in to the air, flinging his arms towards a flock of white doves circling above him.
California voters banned mountain lion hunting three decades ago, but the shooting never stoppedNovember 3, 2017 4:00 AMMalibu Victoria Vaughn doesn’t have a killer’s heart. The 59-year-old artist and former substitute teacher, whose eyes well with tears when she gets upset, loves animals. It’s why she started raising alpacas for wool for her weaving projects in the first place.
She certainly never thought she’d want to kill one of California’s most charismatic mammals. That changed last year when a mountain lion started coming around at night, savaging her alpacas. Vaughn and her neighbors in the rugged mountains behind Malibu’s beaches blame this single lion for wiping out more than 100 goats, alpacas, sheep and other animals, sometimes dozens at a time.
He rarely ate anything from their corpses, instead leaving them to rot in their pens. Ryan Sabalow – The Sacramento BeeVictoria Vaughn shows her alpacas a plaster casting of a paw print of P-45, a cougar that had killed her alpacas in Malibu last year. After losing nine alpacas in one year, Vaughn and her husband installed motion lights, blasted talk radio over loudspeakers, and hung flags and electrified wires to try to keep the cat away at night.
But on Thanksgiving weekend, the cougar once again got into her alpaca pen and massacred 10 more animals in a single night. One of the alpacas – a brown-wooled baby named Hope – was left dangling morbidly by its head from the pen’s wire fence. Vaughn had had enough. She obtained a permit from the state of California allowing her to kill the lion. Hers was one of about 218 such “depredation permits” issued in California every year, though typically less than half result in a kill.
Californians voted to ban hunting of mountain lions back in 1990, but that hasn’t stopped scores of lions from being killed in the state every year through such permits, which are issued as a matter of course when a lion has attacked a domestic animal. Since Proposition 117 passed, an average of 98 mountain lions have been killed each year with depredation permits – nearly four times the average number of lions killed each year under such permits prior to the ballot measure, according to a Sacramento Bee analysis of state records.
Experts caution that the higher numbers may reflect better record keeping and a larger lion population. Last year, livestock owners and professional trappers, houndsmen and sharpshooters killed 120 mountain lions, including five each in El Dorado and Placer counties. Biologists tracking the lion targeting Vaughn’s animals didn’t want him killed.
The 150-pound cougar, known as P-45, had injected what biologists say is badly needed genetic diversity into an isolated population of a dozen or so lions hemmed in by two deadly freeways that he had somehow managed to cross. In doing so, P-45 had become something of a celebrity in Los Angeles. News that he was targeted for death outraged animal rights activists across the globe. Killing P-45 probably wouldn’t solve the livestock owners’ problem anyway, biologists said.
At least four other mountain lions in the Santa Monica Mountains had killed domestic animals that year, and they may have accounted for some of the attacks being blamed on P-45. But the state had no say in whether P-45 would be allowed to live. That’s because a provision of Proposition 117 explicitly states that when an attack on pets or livestock is confirmed, the state “shall” issue a permit to a livestock owner upon request to “take” the offending cat.
The state has always interpreted “take” to mean “kill.” “The hard truth is that the state law lacks flexibility in these types of circumstances,” Charlton Bonham, the director of the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, told a state board last year amid public backlash over its issuance of a kill permit for P-45. “At the end of the day, if someone asks us for one of these depredation permits .
.. we’re compelled, we’re required to provide it.” Animal rights groups that championed Proposition 117 have been lobbying the state since the P-45 controversy to weaken the depredation permit provision. An estimated 4,000 to 6,000 mountain lions roam California. They aren’t considered endangered or threatened; state biologists say the overall population is stable.
But scientists have discovered isolated pockets of cougars – like those in the Santa Monica Mountains – that are under severe threat due to inbreeding. For now, P-45 is still living in those mountains. Vaughn didn’t end up shooting him, but one of her neighbors, former Sacramento County Sheriff’s Deputy Wendell Phillips, did. The cat survived and his tracking collar shows he is still in the area.
Despite the 100 or so lions killed each year, Proposition 117’s backers say the initiative was a resounding success, one that animal welfare groups have used as a model for close to 40 successful statewide ballot measures targeting controversial hunting and livestock practices across the U.S. “The core of Prop. 117 was not the depredation rules,” said Wayne Pacelle, the president of the Humane Society of the United States.
“The core of 117 was ending the trophy hunting of mountain lions, where people were out to kill unoffending lions for their heads. “Prop. 117 was a landmark measure in a lot of ways because it revitalized the animal protection movement’s use of this form of direct democracy in the United States.” Pacelle said he believes there’s flexibility in the law that would allow the state to cut back on the number of permits it issues.
Winston Vickers – Irvine Ranch ConservancyM-119, one just three mountain lions that have been confirmed to cross the deadly Interstate 15 freeway into the Santa Ana Mountains, walked past a motion-activated trail camera in 2015 in Orange County. This was one of the last pictures taken of M-119, so researchers believe he likely died. He and other mountain lion activists want state wildlife officials to stop automatically interpreting “take” as kill, especially in cases where the lion preying on pets or livestock is part of a genetically fragile population like the one in Malibu.
They hope the state will require more of those who get depredation permits to use nonlethal means to scare the lions away, such as hazing them with hounds or slathering carcasses they leave behind with foul-tasting chemicals to prevent future kills. Animal welfare activists say that over the years, the depredation-permit policy has morphed into something they never saw coming back in 1990, when the main concern was for commercial ranching.
“They didn’t know that a majority of these depredation permits would be issued for a handful of goats on ranchette properties. Frankly, there was no way for them to predict that,” said Lynn Cullens, the executive director of the Mountain Lion Foundation. The meaning of ‘take’ After months of discussion with animal welfare and livestock groups, the state is poised to release a draft mountain lion depredation permit policy in the coming days that could provide greater flexibility and lead to fewer permits.
Ranching groups say they will oppose any language limiting their ability to kill animals that attack livestock. If the state makes it harder to kill those cougars, they say it would violate Proposition 117 and make the Department of Fish and Wildlife vulnerable to lawsuits. “We .... always have read the proposition to read that ‘take’ is considered to be lethal take,” said Justin Oldfield, a vice president of the California Cattlemen’s Association.
“The department is, of course, obligated to issue that permit.” Cullens said if her group is blocked it will move to persuade the Legislature to change the law voters approved. It’s not an easy task – changing Proposition 117 requires a four-fifths vote in the Legislature – but it has been done before. In 2013, the Legislature tinkered with the law’s wording so it requires state game wardens to use nonlethal measures to shoo away mountain lions if the cats aren’t acting aggressively in “public safety” situations such as when people encounter them in neighborhoods, parks or along hiking trails.
The original wording allowed for these cats to be instantly killed. “I think we can do it. It may take some time,” Cullens said. “We have given up some impetus by not doing it closer to the time situation around P-45, when it was so much in the news. But eventually we’ll get to a place where there is greater discretion.” Ranchers and their Republican allies in the Legislature aren’t as receptive this time around.
While Democrats outnumber Republicans in California’s statehouse, GOP lawmakers still hold enough seats to make a four-fifths vote a long shot. “I would be lobbying my members not to support that,” said Brian Dahle, a farmer from Lassen County who leads the Republicans in California’s Assembly. The other option would be going back to the ballot to change the wording, but that’s a costly prospect.
Experts on ballot initiatives say that Proposition 117 should serve as a warning about the unintended consequences of voters enshrining hard-to-change measures into law. “The Legislature is prevented ... from making rational and reasonable adjustments to the law when conditions change,” said Michael Salerno, an expert on the initiative process at the UC Hastings College of the Law.
He called it a “perfect irony” that animal rights groups now find themselves stymied to protect lions from death by the very anti-hunting law they passed. “It is a cautionary tale,” said Fredric Woocher, a Los Angeles attorney who has worked on ballot initiatives. No sport hunting The Sacramento Bee reviewed hundreds of depredation permits and wildlife incident report forms dating back to at least 2010 on file at the Department of Fish and Wildlife lab in Rancho Cordova, and also analyzed a database of historical depredation permit records kept by the state going back to the 1970s.
The Bee’s analysis shows that despite the ban on hunting mountain lions, California has recently issued around as many permits to kill them as it does permits to hunt pronghorn antelope, a native California species with a similar-sized statewide population that’s hunted in tightly regulated seasons. But the numbers of cats killed under the depredation permit system is still lower than the hunting season proposed before Proposition 117’s passage.
Sport hunting for mountain lions hasn’t been allowed in California since Gov. Ronald Reagan signed a moratorium in 1972. The moratorium followed a century in which lions – like wolves – were regarded mainly as a nuisance to ranchers. More than 12,400 mountain lions were killed between 1907 and 1963 and turned in for bounties, according to the Mountain Lion Foundation.
Mountain Lion FoundationHollywood celebrities, left to right: Rue McLanahan, Rob Lowe, Tippi Hendren, Earl Holliman and Gretchen Wyler, at the Mountain Lion Foundation’s news conference in 1988 to raise support for California mountain lion protection. In the late 1980s, state officials had proposed reopening a hunting season allowing the hunting of 190 lions a year – a move that prompted the anti-hunting initiative.
Proposition 117’s advocates say that the numbers of mountain lions hunted in California could have been much higher than 190, since the state also would have continued issuing depredation permits. In neighboring Oregon, hunters killed 268 cougars last year in the state’s lion hunting season – that’s on top of the 151 that were killed for preying on livestock.
That state estimates its mountain lion population is slightly larger than California’s – around 6,400 animals. The Bee’s analysis of permit data shows that two-thirds of the depredation permits since 1973 were issued for cougars that preyed on sheep and goats. Attacks on cattle accounted for just 10 percent; dogs and cats, 8 percent. Only around 45 percent of the permits issued resulted in kills.
State officials say most lions were killed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services program working on behalf of residents whose livestock had been attacked. The controversial agency employs professional trappers, houndsmen and sharpshooters who kill free of charge. Mendocino County issued the most permits since 2000, followed by El Dorado, Calaveras and Tuolumne and Siskiyou.
The state’s records paint a grisly picture of lions stalking pets and livestock. In 2016, a lion snatched a Yorkshire terrier while its owner was walking it on a leash at a Tuolomne County RV park. The owner tried to blast the lion with bear spray when it carried the dog into a tree, but the spray wouldn’t reach that high.
The owner watched as the mountain lion began to eat his dog before it ran off with it in its jaws. The warden asked the dog owner if he wanted a trapper to come kill the animal under a depredation permit, but the Yorkie’s owner declined. “He stated he did not want to harm the mountain lion in any way,” the warden wrote. In a few of the incident report forms reviewed by The Bee, livestock or pet owners declined to get a permit when state officials offered them one.
One Mariposa County woman whose two large sheep were killed by a lion last year said she didn’t want it to be killed. “She accepted the loss of her livestock as a risk of living in the mountains,” she told the warden who confirmed that attack. ‘I sleep with a shotgun’ Vicky Vaughan, a goat owner in Madera County, was not so sanguine.
She obtained her second depredation permit in as many years in early 2016 after she found a dead goat inside a six-foot tall stall in her barn. The motion sensor lighting she installed to scare away lions didn’t work. The cat never came back, so Vaughan (no relation to the Malibu alpaca owner with a similar name) didn’t use her permit. She had better success the year before.
Back then, another lion was killing neighborhood animals at night. She told The Bee she’d find her goats with “their throats just ripped out, laying there.” The trapper put one of Vaughan’s baby goats, alive, inside the trap to lure the cat in. A partition separated the lion from its prey. That night, they heard the trap’s door close and her husband went out and shot the lion.
She made the mistake of posting the picture of the dead lion on Facebook. “I got butchered. I just got slammed. ‘How dare I kill a creature like this?’ ” she said. “But these people don’t know how you feel when you’re being stalked. You can feel it.” When there’s a lion around, Vaughan said she’s now taken to sleeping in the barn.
“I sleep with a shotgun,” she said, to protect the animals she considers part of her family. In several of the reports reviewed by The Bee, cougars were killed after going on rampages inside livestock pens, similar to P-45’s Malibu massacres. Workers at a winery in San Luis Obispo County in 2015 found 16 Barbados sheep and four Boer goats that a mountain lion had killed but not eaten.
At the owners’ request, the warden issued a permit to kill it – and a federal trapper was called in. The dead cat, the warden wrote in his report, was “in excellent condition” and weighed about 105 pounds. Such mass killings aren’t unusual. “It’s not uncommon for us to hear a lion in a pen situation killing 15, 20, 30 goats in one evening,” said Marc Kenyon, the former supervisor of the DFW’s mountain lion conservation program who recently took a wildlife agency job in Wisconsin.
So what makes a cat go on these rampages? Is it really killing for sport, as some livestock owners claim? Kenyon doesn’t think so. He said that mountain lions usually kill just one animal at a time in the wild, then drag it to a secluded area where they bury it, coming back later to feed. He said he thinks the cats need to let the adrenaline rush that comes from stalking and killing subside from their bodies before they can actually eat.
A lion can’t calm down in a pen packed full of prey. As the terrified animals run back and forth, the cougar’s killing instinct revs up and can’t shut off, he said. The cat goes from goat to goat until they’re all dead, or the lion is so exhausted it leaves. “A lion, when it’s hunting, is really laser focused,” Kenyon said.
“Nothing else is happening in the world except that prey item in front of them. We’ve got reports of people hitting a lion with a stick to get it off their dog on a leash, and the lion is not fazed by that at all because of that focus.” When a lion is killed under a depredation permit, the carcass is taken to a state lab for an animal autopsy called a “necropsy” – another requirement under Proposition 117.
One day last summer, inside a DFW lab in Rancho Cordova, a group of four female biologists who call themselves the “Puma Pathology Queens” (female mountain lions are sometimes called “queens”) – were busily dissecting a cougar shot under a depredation permit. Randy Pench – Sacramento Bee photosBiologists with the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, examine a young male mountain lion during a necropsy this summer in Rancho Cordova.
State officials issue dozens of permits to kill mountain lions after they attack pets and livestock. The biologists examine the mountain lion's teeth during the necropsy.Biologist Jaime Rudd measures the mountain lion’s paw. The Queens see their job as critically important, and one in which they’re emotionally invested.
All of the Queens have shed tears at one point or another during a mountain lion necropsy, they say. The cat on the Queens’ stainless steel table that day was a male still young enough to have traces of spots on his legs. At a little over a year old, he weighed an impressive 90 pounds. Healthy and sporting a long tail with the girth of a barrel of a baseball bat, the dead cat had preyed on an Oroville man’s goats a few weeks earlier.
It had been shot in the head by a federal agent. This cat was typical of those the Queens necropsy after a depredation case. They say the pumas that kill pets or livestock tend to be young males, and they’re usually healthy. The cats are split open, and various organs and bodily fluids are sent to labs for testing and analysis.
The contents of the lions’ stomach also are inspected to see if the cat had indeed been preying on livestock. This young lion had a gob of undigested goat meat and black goat hair inside it. The hundreds of necropsies that have occurred in the 27 years since Proposition 117’s passage have provided scientists with important data about the overall health of California’s mountain lion population.
For instance, analysis of the cats’ livers shows that 97 percent have traces of rodent poisons in their systems. Biologists believe they’re ingesting the toxins from eating poisoned rodents or from consuming animals such as bobcats and coyotes that have eaten them. While not toxic enough to kill the lions most of the time, state officials are troubled. They fear the overuse of rodenticide could be dangerous for the population.
‘I still feel upset’ Animal rights activists say the data gleaned from these lion dissections is not enough to justify killing so many each year. Cullens of the Mountain Lion Foundation estimates that in some areas of the state, including El Dorado County, more than a quarter of the local lion population might be killed via permits in a given year.
That, she said, is troubling enough, but most worrisome are the pumas being killed via permits in some isolated populations similar to Malibu’s. “We now have the evidence that there’s truly a problem here that we’re losing our biological diversity,” Cullens said. Her claims are backed by a 13-year study published in the journal Plos One in 2015.
The study tracked GPS-collared pumas in Southern California. On the west side of the Interstate 15 freeway in the Santa Ana Mountains, the animals are cut off from the larger population in much the same way the cats in Malibu are isolated by Highway 101 and Interstate 405. Some of the westside cats are showing dangerous signs of inbreeding, such as kinked tails and other genetic problems.
The fear is the lions could eventually go extinct from inbreeding. During the study, the top cause of death for GPS-collared mountain lions was getting hit by cars, which accounted for 28 percent of the fatalities. The next highest cause of death, at 26 percent, was through depredation permits issued after the cats killed domestic animals. Winston Vickers, the UC Davis wildlife veterinarian who lead the study, said that only three new cats are known to have crossed I-15 to bring new genetics to the westside population over the past 15 years.
One was killed before breeding under a depredation permit. Another dropped off researchers’ radar. Only one – a cat identified as M-86 – was confirmed to have bred before he was killed by a car, Vickers said. Winston Vickers – UC Davis Wildlife Health CenterA motion-activated trail camera captured this image of a cougar watching over her shoulder as her two kittens feed on a deer carcass in 2014 in Orange County.
All three cougars are the offspring of M-86, the only mountain lion known to have bred after successfully crossing the Interstate 15 freeway, bringing new genetics into a population of interbreeding cougars isolated by the deadly road. Two of M-86’s 11 offspring died from gunfire. A third was illegally poisoned not far from where livestock had been attacked.
In Cullens’ view, most conflicts with lions over livestock could have been prevented if the animals’ owners had kept them in fully enclosed pens. Her foundation is working with 4-H groups and backyard livestock enthusiasts to encourage those practices in mountain lion country. But she said her group lacks the resources to achieve significant change across California’s vast rural landscape through education and outreach alone.
That’s why she feels it’s so important for the state to issue fewer permits. After the P-45 controversy, the Mountain Lion Foundation paid to build Vaughn, the Malibu alpaca owner, mountain lion-proof pens for her alpacas. She hasn’t had an attack since. Vaughn said she’s extremely grateful to the Mountain Lion Foundation for its help during the controversy, because assistance was so hard to find elsewhere.
Some of her neighbors who owned livestock were upset when she eventually chose to rescind her depredation permit. But she didn’t kill P-45 because she felt he deserved to live. The blowback from the fans of P-45 was just too much. She said she received so many death threats from them, she hasn’t checked her voicemail for a year. “I had people calling me and threatening me,” Vaughn said, breaking into tears.
“This is the first time in my life I ever stood up for something and said ‘I’m willing to take the heat’ and I didn’t realize I would be so weak. I still feel upset about it.”