Though the policy implies that mountain lions pose a serious danger to civilians, experts said that assumption was far from the truth.
"It posed no threat at all," Tim Dunbar, executive director of the Mountain Lion Foundation, told The Dodo. "We've seen the news report, we've read all the stories. All we're actually seeing is a lot of excuses."
Bass said that, even injured, the mountain lion could have been saved if officials had wanted to. He could have been returned to the wild, where bones often heal on their own, she said. And while treating wild animals is difficult, BCR is currently caring for one mountain lion who had two injured legs.
Omaha officials argued that tranquilizing mountain lions is dangerous because tranquilizers take time to work, leaving an increasingly drugged cat to wander the city streets. But as Bass confirmed, a simple solution is just to contain the animal until the tranquilizers kick in.
"If the animal was in a confined space and wouldn't have had the opportunity to run, it would have stayed in the same place until it fell asleep," she said. "There have been numerous cities around the country where they've done just that."
It's true that if the mountain lion had wandered into another city he might have had a warmer welcome. Just last month, a mountain lion took up residence under a Los Angeles home. Instead of killing him, local agencies rallied together and spent hours trying to get him to safety, with the public cheering them on.
And even if the mountain lion needed to be euthanized - which is highly doubtful in this case - many outraged citizens are pointing out that there's no excuse for the brutal way in which it was done. At the very least, police could have bought in a trained marksman or even a hunter, so the cat could have been put down kindly.
"That wasn't a humane way," Bass said of showering a sleeping cat in gunshots. "I can't imagine a circumstance where you'd have to shoot a mountain lion 15 times."