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California mountain lion is first to be killed under state's "three-strike" law

Posted at 8:42 AM, Feb 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-11 10:42:14-05

A California mountain lion has been killed with permission from officials, marking the first time a mountain lion with a tracking collar has been killed under the state's depredation law in the Santa Monica Mountains, according to the National Park Service.

The mountain lion, dubbed P-56, was a male between 4 and 5 years old who had been living in the western Santa Monica Mountains south of the 101 Freeway, CBS Los Angeles reports. He is suspected of attacking animals at a property in the city of Camarillo, according to The Associated Press.

Mountain lion hunting in California was banned in 1990. But a mountain lion can still be killed legally "if it harms pets or livestock" and a property owner asks the California Department of Fish and Wildfire (CDFW) for "a depredation permit," says a statement posted by the National Park Service.

Officials implemented a "three-strike" policy in 2017 that requires a property owner to take non-lethal measures against a lion before a lethal permit is issued.

Officials say the landowner in this case reported nine incidents of depredation over a two-year period that resulted in the loss of a dozen animals. They say the person took protective measures – bringing in as many livestock as possible and penning remaining animals close to buildings. Guard dogs, hot wire fencing, motion-activated lights and radio hazing were also used, according to the National Park Service's statement.

Biologists with the National Park Service were told that P-56 was killed in late January, according to its statement.

Researchers have been tracking mountain lions in the Santa Monica Mountains for nearly 18 years for a study of how they make out in the region.

P-56 was given a GPS tracking collar in 2017.

"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 research project, said in a statement. "There are always animals out there that are not being tracked. Currently, there is only one adult male in the Santa Monica Mountains that we are tracking and that is P-63."