Regional News: Gov. Newsom’s dad helped protect California mountain lions. Now his son faces the fallout

P-19’s kittens with P-45 were a female and a male, P-46 and P-47. P-47 was found dead in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area west of Los Angeles. Authorities say he had rat poison in his system. /NATIONAL PARK SERVICE

By Ryan Sabalow and Sophoa Bollag | Sacramento Bee

Thirty years ago, California voters approved a ballot initiative championed by Gov. Gavin Newsom’s father, William Newsom, that banned mountain lion hunting in the state. The initiative was approved in part because it secured protections for ranchers to shoot mountain lions that kill or maim their livestock.

Now, the father’s crusade is a thorn in the son’s paw.

William Newsom’s law is making it harder for Gov. Newsom to stop California’s iconic big cats from getting trapped and shot – even as the Democratic governor is feeling pressure from environmentalists seeking to protect cougars even further under the state’s Endangered Species Act. Newsom’s wildlife agency also is under fire for allowing a rancher in Ventura County to kill one of the rare cougars that prowl the Santa Monica hillsides of Southern California.

For the new governor, who was 22 when his father’s initiative passed, the erupting dispute over killing cougars forces him to confront the unintended consequences of a signature piece of his father’s legacy.


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February 2020