Illegal Killing of Mountain Lions at Tejon Ranch?

SoCal’s big wild cats are the subject of a state investigation that’s trying to discover just what the heck is going on at 270,000 acre Tejon Ranch.

The California Department of Fish and Game is looking into claims by a former employee who alleges that he was fired because he complained about the company engaged in and condoned the illegal killing of mountain lions.

According to the L.A. Times:

Bron Sanders, a former hunting guide at the ranch, made the claims in a recent lawsuit filed in Kern County Superior Court.  Sanders worked at the ranch from 2004 until December of last year, when he alleges he was wrongfully terminated for complaining to ranch managers and top executives about illegal hunting of mountain lions on the grounds. 

Tejon Ranch officials denied the allegations and vowed to, “….to vigorously defend our actions in court.”

The article contends that Sanders had, during the past five years, witnessed “20 mountain lions dead on the ground without a depredation permit.” States can allow the killing of one big cat that pose a threat to humans or livestock and the carcass must be presented to the Department of Fish and Game within 24 hours.

After killing a mountain lion in July of 2005 with a depredation permit, Sanders said his manager said,

“Don’t call anyone about this, and do not turn that carcass in.”

Sanders said he did not turn the carcass in to state authorities, adding “we got two or three mountain lions off that one permit.”