Go Lions

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From tomorrow's L.A. Times, by Ken Weiss:

Though he insists that he only wants to scare the animal, not kill it, a land speculator received a permit this week to hunt down the last male mountain lion in the Santa Monica Mountains after losing five goats.

Brian A. Sweeney, who has bought more than 2,000 acres adjacent to state and national parkland in the Santa Monica Mountains, obtained the permit Tuesday and immediately brought in a professional hunter and his hounds after a state Department of Fish and Game warden verified Sweeney's claim that the lion killed his goats.

The "permit to kill," which wardens are required by law to issue after the loss of livestock, has alarmed national and state park officials, who have radio-collared the big cat and are studying its behavior. They fear that the death of the lone male, one of only a handful of lions left in the mountain range, would lead to their demise.

Already, according to federal officials, the hunter's hounds chased the lion twice Tuesday night, treeing it once. Shots were fired, and the lion ran away.

"I don't think the law was intended to call for the extinction of the species," said Woody Smeck, superintendent of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.

I'm with the lion on this one. Plenty of goats around. By the way, through my Wilshire work I've come to appreciate the La Brea Tar Pits. The world's greatest repository of saber-toothed cat remains has come out of those pits. They used to roam these parts, along with mammoths and, until fairly recently, grizzly bears.

Most impressive fact about the tar pits: 21st century technology can't contain them. It's not quite Volcano, the silly Tommy Lee Jones-Anne Heche movie where lava flows down the boulevard. But around the neighborhood you see tar (actually asphaltum) pushing through sidewalks, street cracks and lawns. Check the bottom of the hole at Wilshire and Hauser where the Broadway used to stand: a pool of asphalt oozes and traps birds.

There's an explantion for it all -- and for why the land beneath Park La Brea, Farmer's Market and The Grove mall used to be covered in oil derricks -- and for why the Ross Dress for Less on Third Street exploded in a methane fire ball in the 1980s. Under the surface the whole area is one big tar pit. Sleep tight.


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