TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - An Arizona Department of Game and Fish investigation says three men are charged in the illegal death of a mountain lion in Colossal Cave Mountain Park on June 10th. At least one man, Richard Dailey, has been confirmed by the county to work for a company hired by Pima County to run the park. The investigation states that both Dailey and Martin Foersterling are charged with shooting the mountain lion without a permit and in the park, which is a closed area. Dailey is also charged with using a .22 rifle to shoot the lion, which is an unlawful method, and without a license.
The investigation also says that Game and Fish officers told Thayne Le Fevre that the mountain lion could not be shot unless someone's life is in danger. Le Fevre is charged with lying to a Game and Fish officer later during the investigation that he had not seen the lion.
"People who work out there or who were involved in this case were aware that we had advised against taking the mountain lion unless it was a case of self-defense. Imminent threat of attack is the only justifiable reason in this case, and as far as we know, the lion did not take any livestock, so, it's illegal take," said Mark Hart, spokesman for Arizona Game and Fish Department.
The investigation says that Foersterling and Dailey tracked the mountain lion on the park and called it with a predator call. In the report, Dailey said that Le Fevre told him that Game and Fish said that shooting the lion was allowed because it was a threat to people. Dailey shot the female mountain lion in the head and Foersterling shot it twice with a shotgun.
"The reasoning that the mountain lion posed a threat doesn't apply in this case. They used a predator call, which sounds like a smaller animal in distress, to lure the mountain lion into the location they were at. How could that lion have posed a threat to them? They were trying to get the mountain lion in. Is this a case of curiosity killing the cat?" Hart said
Because the lion was shot in the head, Game and Fish cannot examine it for rabies to see if it posed that threat to people.
"This mountain lion moved off, in one case rocks were thrown at it, in another case, it moved off after a vehicle approached. That doesn't constitute a clear and present danger to life and limb. They just didn't like the mountain lion hanging around, apparently, or took it a step further and said, 'well, it's in the area, it needs to be disposed of.'
That's not how the law works in the state of Arizona," Hart said.
Foersterling and Dailey face class two misdemeanors which carry up to a $750 fine and four months in jail. Le Fevre's charge of false reporting to a peace officer is a class one misdemeanor with up to $2500 fine and six months in jail.
The state can pursue civil damages of $1500 for the loss of the mountain lion, after the criminal case.