Hunters Fight California Over Mountain Lions


     SACRAMENTO (CN) - California's ban on importing, transporting and possessing mountain lions hunted outside of California is unconstitutional, a hunting club claimed in a lawsuit Wednesday.
     Safari Club International sued Attorney General Kamala Harris, in Federal Court.
     It claims that the import ban - Section 4800 of the state's Fish and Game Code - violates the Constitution's Commerce Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.
     "The Import Ban adversely and significantly harms interstate commerce and serves no legitimate state or local interest," the complaint states. "It discriminates against those persons who want to hunt mountain lions outside of California and import, transfer, and possess any such mountain lions in California. In contrast, those who hunt other species outside California, including some protected species, are permitted to import, transfer, and possess them in California."
     Mountains lions are not endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act, the hunters say. They add: "Although California designates the mountain lion as a 'specially protected mammal,' on information and belief, the mountain lion is not protected as an endangered or threatened species (or comparable status) under any state law. ...
     "But for the Import Ban, residents of California (and others) could hunt mountain lions in other states and countries and import into, transport and possess within California those legally hunted mountain lions, as they can for numerous other game animals, birds, and fish."
     California voters approved Proposition 117 in 1990, which includes the import ban and other provisions dealing with mountain lions.
     The hunters claim that their group, and others, "would benefit from a lifting of the Import Ban in their guiding, taxidermy, and other commercial activities related to mountain lion hunting outside of California."
     "The Import Ban singles out and discriminates against the group of hunters who wish to hunt mountain lions out of state and import into, transfer and possess within California their harvested mountain lions," the complaint states.
     The group seeks declaratory judgment, costs, and wants enforcement of the ban enjoined.
     It is represented by Linda Linton, of Reno, Nev.