Tranquillizer Darts Killing Mountain Lions

In the news media today there are two cases of captured mountain lions dying. They were not so much captured as killed and what killed them was tranquillizer darts. Are tranquillizer guns being used properly in the capture of mountain lions?

In the United States, there appears to be more cases of mountain lions entering human settlements (urban areas) for various reasons, the most obvious being that there are more urban areas and therefore less habitat for the mountain lion and also the cat is becoming habituated to the human to the obvious detriment of the cat. The pumas are coming off the Rocky Mountains and entering sprawling suburbs.

Jordan Commons, Sandy, Utah

A female mountain lion was outside a shopping center in the suburbs of Salt Lake City. The cat eventually made its way to a railway line where she lay low (see picture below by Jeffrey D Allfred AP) and where she was shot with tranquillizer darts (note: plural, meaning more than one dart). The cat weighed 100 pounds. The weight must be a factor in how much tranquillizer is used to sedate the cat.

Mountion lion killed by tranquillizer darts

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Scott Root of the Department of Wildlife Resources says that it is unusual for wildlife to die under sedation but it does happen.

This mountain was not threatening people and she had not hurt anyone. The news report does not tell us whether the people who shot the cat with tranquillizer darts used the correct number of darts and the correct tranquillizer etc.. I’d like to know more and I’d like to see someone try and figure out why the cat never woke up.

There is no need to completely knock out the cat so she unconscious. Surely a lesser dose would have rendered her to a trance-like state which would have allowed people to handle her?

The authorities are planning to examine the corpse to see if she suffered from an illness. The results of that autopsy will no doubt be unreported (source of story).

Orem, Utah County, Utah

This is another case in the same place. I wonder whether the same people were involved. It appears so to me and I wonder if malicousness is also involved. What I mean is did they deliberately kill the cat with tranquillizer darts? There should be an investigation. No chance of course.

Mountain killed by tranquillizer darts

We have no further information on the death of this second “captured” mountain lion which occurred not long before the first. The picture of the cat above (by Orem Police Department) indicates the cat as not large. She/he can’t weigh more than 90 pounds or so. There is no indication that the cat was threatening people or had hurt anyone.

I understand the fears of residents but I see things from both sides. We encroached on the mountain lion territory. They were there before humans. They have a right to share the land with humans. Therefore there is an obligation on us as guardians of the land to ensure that we live in harmony with other species and take great care to ensure their survival.

In my view the department involved with the tranquillizing of these pumas were not discharging their duties to a satisfactory standard.

Associated: Suburban Mountain Lions

2 thoughts on “Tranquillizer Darts Killing Mountain Lions”

  1. I’m of the thinking that fear (anticipated or real) and panic are most always the cause of oversedation in animals and humans.
    Some of the ferals being cared for by friends that died on the table during neutering were frightening cats, capable of great harm.
    I’ve, also, worked with doctors who ordered twice the amount of sedation necessary to subdue a violent or threatening patient. I’m certain they were afraid (as they walked out the door and left me to give the shot).


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