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Officer of the Day

Larry Moats/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Earlier today I read that brave and selfless police officers shot and killed a mountain lion who had the audacity to wander the streets of downtown Berkeley, California.

Sgt. Mary Kusmiss, the Berkeley Police Department’s public information officer, was quoted as saying, “Despite the sensitive nature of this event, we feel confident about the actions taken by the BPD Officers considering the totality of the events, when considering the densely populated area in which the animal was in, the homeless that sleep in the area, the overnight employees who clean businesses and the like, the adjacent schools and the northern Shattuck corridor. BPD believed that this Mountain Lion posed a significant public safety threat. BPD officers who have to dispatch animals find it challenging, but it is part of our duty to protect the community.”

I was so overcome with relief that I collapsed. I came to a few minutes later in a froth of sweat, jumped to my feet, and found comfort in my familiar surroundings — surroundings, though, that seemed no more real than those I’d been transported to in a remarkably vivid dream moments earlier.

In this extraordinary vision, I found myself at Chez Panisse in downtown Berkeley, California. At an adjacent table sat a pride of mountain lions.

They were passing a still-beating human heart, taking turns imbibing its rich, warm yield through a crazy straw. A waiter then delivered their meal. They’d ordered the special: Officer of the Day. One by one, they took turns dipping a claw or two into a steaming human skull and savoring the underdeveloped brain that one of the lions described as “tasting a bit like veal” but having the “texture of Jell-O.”

I now find myself even more appreciative of the services and protection the Berkeley Police Department provides the fine residents of that celebrated locale. It is comforting to know that such macho, trigger-happy cowboys still exist.

16 Comments

  1. Rick Kaempfer wrote:

    Note to self: Remember to read Dave’s blog posts *after* breakfast.

    Wednesday, September 1, 2010 at 11:51 am | Permalink
  2. David Brensilver wrote:

    Rick,

    Did my latest post make you hungry?

    David

    Wednesday, September 1, 2010 at 12:02 pm | Permalink
  3. dave wrote:

    You are an evil wonderful little man. Love you.

    Wednesday, September 1, 2010 at 12:04 pm | Permalink
  4. Paul wrote:

    Are there any laws that protect the mountain lion in this case? Or, once he wanders into a municipality are all bets off?

    Wednesday, September 1, 2010 at 12:22 pm | Permalink
  5. Jess wrote:

    I would have to say that all bets are off, Paul. They seem to forget that the mountain lion didn’t come into our territory….we went into theirs.

    Wednesday, September 1, 2010 at 1:57 pm | Permalink
  6. David Brensilver wrote:

    Dave,

    Thank you for the compliment.

    David

    Wednesday, September 1, 2010 at 2:18 pm | Permalink
  7. David Brensilver wrote:

    Paul,

    Here is language from the Mountain Lion Foundation’s website:

    “If a mountain lion is seen on one’s property, or evidence of a lion is found such as scat, tracks, or a deer kill, a phone call to the California Department of Fish & Game may result in an officer coming out to investigate, or they may simply record your sighting over the phone. Because there has been no damage or immediate danger, a depredation permit is not issued. Seeing a lion is not legal cause to kill it. If the lion has not threatened any people, pets, or livestock, usually it is left alone to move on naturally. However, if an officer (CDFG or police department) responds and the lion is present, the fate of the cat is generally decided by the responding officer. If for whatever reason he deems the lion is a threat to public safety — which can be as simple as “the lion is in an area near people or a school” — the agencies have the authority to shoot the animal on site, or tranquilize and euthanize it later. CDFG’s current policy (not legal documentation, just merely the internal consensus of the “higher-ups”) is to never relocate any mountain lions. Therefore, officers who want to respond non-lethally have sometimes attempted to scare lions back into the wild with pepper-spray or rubber bullets.”

    David

    Wednesday, September 1, 2010 at 2:31 pm | Permalink
  8. David Brensilver wrote:

    Jess,

    I’m about to recommend a book on that very subject.

    David

    Wednesday, September 1, 2010 at 2:32 pm | Permalink
  9. Joe wrote:

    Outstanding work. I support Big Cat Rescue based in Tampa Florida. http://www.bigcatrescue.org/

    Wednesday, September 1, 2010 at 2:38 pm | Permalink
  10. Ballin wrote:

    My favorite part of this story, though I love David’s vivid dream, is the proximity of schools to sleeping homeless population. “…We feel confident about the actions…when considering the densely populated area in which the animal was in, the homeless that sleep in the area…the adjacent schools…”

    Did you add that part about the schools? If so, brilliant. If not, that spokesperson needs a refresher in public speaking.

    Wednesday, September 1, 2010 at 4:02 pm | Permalink
  11. David Brensilver wrote:

    Joe,

    David Baron’s website has a list of links to similar organizations.

    David

    Wednesday, September 1, 2010 at 4:09 pm | Permalink
  12. Rick Kaempfer wrote:

    David,

    I was eating my oatmeal as I read “imbibing its rich, warm yield” and suddenly my rich, warm yield didn’t taste so good.

    I’m hoping the same thing won’t happen when I eat the veal jello I prepared for tonight’s dinner.

    Keep up the good work. I love reading your stuff…

    Rick

    Wednesday, September 1, 2010 at 4:45 pm | Permalink
  13. David Brensilver wrote:

    Rick,

    Try switching to bagels and cream cheese.

    David

    Wednesday, September 1, 2010 at 4:54 pm | Permalink
  14. David Brensilver wrote:

    Ballin,

    If you’ll have a look at Sgt. Kusmiss’ quote in this East Bay Express story, you’ll see that she is perfectly capable of sounding ridiculous without my help.

    David

    Thursday, September 2, 2010 at 10:51 pm | Permalink
  15. Greg Brensilver wrote:

    I live less than two miles away from the pharmacy parking lot where the cougar was originally spotted. Unbelievable image and tragic ending. Probably the only cougar for a hundred miles, compared to like millions of humans.

    Friday, September 3, 2010 at 7:43 pm | Permalink
  16. David Brensilver wrote:

    Greg,

    As I wrote in response to Paul — quoting the Mountain Lion Foundation’s website — the California Department of Fish and Game’s “current policy (not legal documentation, just merely the internal consensus of the “higher-ups”) is to never relocate any mountain lions.”

    I’d like to ask the so-called “higher-ups” — those who came to a “consensus” and called it a “policy” — why the CDFG will “never relocate any mountain lions,” when, in fact, the appearance of mountain lions in commercial and residential areas is a result of malignant commercial and residential development. Are we not asking these creatures to relocate each time we break ground on a new shopping mall or housing development?

    David

    Saturday, September 4, 2010 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

2 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. The Daily Maul › While We’re on the Subject on Wednesday, September 1, 2010 at 3:56 pm

    […] I wrote about officers from the Berkeley Police Department killing a mountain lion who had wandered into […]

  2. The Daily Maul › A Tale of Two Species on Tuesday, September 21, 2010 at 12:36 pm

    […] the beginning of this month, I wrote about the Berkeley Police Department’s assassination of a mountain lion “who had the […]

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