State wildlife officials said Monday they have issued a 10-day permit allowing a rancher in the Malibu mountains to hunt and kill P-45, one of the last remaining adult male pumas in the Santa Monica range. The state Department of Fish and Wildlife says it was required to give the special "depredation permit" to the rancher after P-45 was believed responsible for killing 11 alpacas and a goat over the weekend. P-45 also was blamed last month for the slaughter of a miniature horse at a ranch near Malibu and an attack on llamas at another ranch last year.
P-45 is one of the 53 mountain lions that have been studied by the National Park Service, some of them collared and tracked. He was trapped for the first time as an adult last November, setting off a mystery the NPS is still trying to answer with DNA testing: was P-45 born in the Santa Monicas and just go undetected until he was two or three years old? Or was he born elsewhere and somehow entered the mountain range, perhaps by crossing the 101 freeway.
"It’s rare to see more than two adult male mountain lions in the Santa Monica Mountains, but so it is," the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area says on a new web page that lists basic information on each of the identified pumas. "In November 2015, this large male--in fact, the largest since P-1--was trapped in the central region of the range. Was he born in the Santa Monicas undetected by researchers? Did he crossover from the 101 Freeway? Genetic testing is underway and will help us understand."
P-1, the dominant original male in the study, was first captured in 2002. He has not been seen since 2009 and is presumed to be dead, the park service says.
The killing of so many domestic animals has the ranching community in the western Santa Monica Mountains in an uproar. The park service is holding an informational meeting on Wednesday night at Paramount Ranch in the mountains between Malibu and Agoura Hills.
From tonight's LA Times story on the hunting permit that quotes Andrew Hughan, a spokesman for the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.
The 10-day permit allows the hunter to scour the hills within 10 miles of the homeowner’s ranch, located near Mulholland Highway and Little Sycamore Canyon Road. There, the lion attacked a herd of alpacas on Saturday night, killing 10 and injuring two others, Hughan said.
“The homeowner did everything she could to protect her wildlife,” said Hughan, noting that the animals were kept in a locked area with barbed wire and motion-sensing security lights. “This lion was very determined to get in there.”
The second attack occurred Sunday night at a ranch about 2 miles away, where an alpaca and a goat were killed.
P-45 dined on only one of the alpacas, leading wildlife officials to suspect he may return to feed later. The cat wears a radio location transmitter and has been linked to other attacks in the Malibu area....
Anticipating criticism of the permit to have the lion killed, Hughan called on the public to remember that a woman lost a significant part of her income as well as her pets.
“If your livestock is killed, you have the right to get this permit,” Hughan said. “This woman is obviously upset.”
P-45 was first blamed for an attack last November at Malibu Family Wines that claimed several llamas. NPS biologist Jeff Sikich captured and relocated P-45 into a wilder part of the mountains, but he returned and killed another llama in January.
The Times story says the state last year issued 265 permits to kill mountain lions that posed a threat to humans or livestock. With those permits, 107 lions were killed. It looks as if the state issues more than 100 permits to shoot mountain lions every year.