First mountain lion killed under California depredation law

First mountain lion killed under California depredation law
© National Park Service

The first mountain lion with a tracking collar was killed under the California depredation law, the National Park Service (NPS) announced Monday.

The lion, identified as P-56, was 4 to 5 years old and killed in the Santa Monica Mountains under a California Department of Fish & Wildlife depredation permit, according to the service's release

Hunting mountain lions has been banned since 1990, and the animal is labeled as a “specially protected mammal” in the state. But property owners who deal with mountain lions harming pets or livestock can ask for a depredation permit from the department. 

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In 2017, the department started a “three-strike” policy in an effort to protect mountain lions in the Santa Monica Mountains and Santa Ana Mountains. This policy requires property owners to use non-lethal means toward mountain lions to protect their land. 

The property owner bothered by P-56 attempted to bring in many livestock, penned remaining livestock outside, hired trained guard dogs and installed hot wire fencing and motion activated lights and auditory hazing. The mountain lion was involved in nine incidents that resulted in 12 animals being killed.

NPS biologists were told of the mountain lion’s death on Jan. 27, at a time when they are attempting to study how the small population is handling a fragmented region. The group is tracking only one other adult male lion in the Santa Monica Mountains.

“The loss of a breeding male is a concern for the study, especially when the population is already very small,” Jeff Sikich, the lead field biologist for the project, said. “There are always animals out there that are not being tracked.”

P-56, the deceased mountain lion, was caught and given a tracking collar in April 2017.