Wild Wild West*

*Cross-posted from Blogging.la

It’s not every day here in Southern California you get to bag a wild lion from behind a 9mm pistol in the comfort of your own backyard, but that’s what an Orange County resident did yesterday morning when he confronted a mountain lion that had ventured from the adjacent Cleveland National Forest onto his Rancho Santa Margarita property.

Quoted in today’s L.A. Times article the trigger-happy former cop’s logic is impeccable:

Hill said he retrieved a 9-millimeter pistol from his car and entered his backyard through a side gate. He saw the cougar hunch down on a slope 30 feet away, with a 5-foot-high iron fence and a swimming pool between them. He feared the animal was going to attack, and he fired two shots.

“I thought I could be in trouble with the lion that close to me, especially when he went from standing up to hunching down,” he said.

So let me get this straight… after putting himself in potential harm by advancing toward the mountain lion and then seeing the big cat hunker down (not out of potential anxiety over its unfamiliar surroundings but because it obviously wanted to eat Hill) with not one but two barriers between them, the terrified Mr. Hill took it upon himself not only to break what I’m guessing is an ordinance against the discharge of a firearm within city or county limits but also a law against the destruction a protected species.

Slight digression: Uh, I know he’s identified as a former police officer and I guess he’s allowed to be strapped despite his current lack of law enforcement authority, but what the hell is he doing keeping a weapon in his car?

Of course, with the animal now wounded thanks to Hill’s fine marksmanship and therefore a far greater risk to the populace, law enforcement and wildlife officials had no choice to finish the creature off after it was located dying about a quarter mile away some 90 minutes later.

The article makes absolutely no mention of whether Hill was cited for breaking laws, but being that it’s the OC’s outback, my bet is he’ll be hailed as a hero.

Me? I’ll only be hailing his actions as despicable given my love and respect of cougars, which can be found in my blog post of last year following the discover in January 2005 of a pair that had been poisoned in the nearby Santa Susana Mountains.