Mountain Lion P-56 Killed After Death Of Livestock

P-56 was part of the National Park Service's ongoing study of mountain lions in the area. He was fitted with a radio collar in April 2017. (Courtesy National Park Service via Flickr)

A four- or five-year-old mountain lion was killed in the Santa Monica Mountains after the deaths of 12 privately owned sheep and lambs in the area.

The owner of the livestock obtained permission to kill the mountain lion from the state's Department of Fish and Wildlife.

P-56 was part of the National Park Services' ongoing study of mountain lions in the area. He was fitted with a radio collar in April 2017, and was the first animal involved in the study to be euthanized as a result of predatory behavior. He was killed on January 27.

P-56 was believed to be the father of at least four other mountain lions: P-70, P-71, P-72 and P-73. Authorities were able to confirm that he was responsible for a majority of the livestock deaths by tracking his movements via his collar.

California landowners whose livestock or pets are threatened by a mountain lion are required to implement non-lethal deterrents before requesting a depredation permit from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to kill the animal.

Such a permit is granted only after property owners or animal owners have made serious attempts to protect their livestock or pets, said Tim Daily, a public information officer with CDFW.

"We make sure the person has done whatever he or she can to prevent further incidents," he said.

In the case of P-56, the landowner — whose property was in the Camarillo area — tried various methods over the course of approximately two years to dissuade the mountain lion from returning and killing more livestock, including bringing the livestock inside, penning the livestock, and utilizing guard dogs, lights, sound and electric fencing, according to CDFW.

Mountain lion P-56 (Courtesy of National Park Service)

When those attempts failed, the resident was granted the depredation permit, which allows a resident to kill a mountain lion, or to name another person to kill it.

Whoever carries out the killing must use "humane methods," said Daly.

"Not poison, not metal traps," he said, adding that whoever does the killing must also follow local gun and hunting laws and be legally authorized to hunt or kill animals. The person must not have been convicted of a violation of taking game or fur-bearing animals in the last 24 months, or be on probation and barred from hunting or possessing firearms.

The method used to kill P-56 has not been confirmed, nor has the name of the person who killed the animal.

Scientists at NPS who are involved in the mountain lion study say that the death of P-56 could be detrimental to their project, and to the well-being of mountain lions in the area.

"We have a very small population, and our lions are already facing a number of significant challenges, especially with the Woolsey Fire that destroyed almost half of the mountains," said Jeff Sikich, a wildlife biologist with NPS. "The loss of any animal in this small population could be significant."

CDFW will review P-56's death to make sure all protocols were followed.

Lita Martinez contributed to this report.