LA Leaders Want To End Killing Of Mountain Lions For Taking 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)

The death of mountain lion P-56 has grabbed the attention of city leaders in L.A., where two council members are calling for an end to permitted killings.

The male mountain lion was shot and killed legally using what's known as a depredation permit issued by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife after a dozen sheep and lambs were killed in the Camarillo area. Such permits are issued to landowners who can prove the loss or damage of livestock was caused by mountain lions.

Councilmen Paul Koretz, whose 5th District covers parts of the westside and San Fernando Valley, and David Ryu, whose 4th District covers parts of Hollywood, the Hollywood Hills and Sherman Oaks, wrote a resolution calling for the state to stop issuing these permits and establish a fund to reimburse anyone who loses an animal in an attack.

Mountain lions are not threatened or endangered in California. However, Prop 117, a ballot measure passed in 1990, made them a "specially protected species," a status which, combined with other statutes, makes it illegal to hunt them, according to CDFW.

In Southern California, the spread of freeways and urban development have left them so dangerously isolated that their long-term survival is in question. P-56 was a collared lion that was part of an ongoing study in the Santa Monica Mountains Recreation Area.

"I think there's just an insane disconnect between the fact that we are working to conserve our mountain lions, especially in the city of Los Angeles, where there's possibly one still surviving that's collared and there may be another one that's not collared — two males, and we just allowed one to be killed," Koretz said.

Speaking on KPCC's AirTalk, Koretz called the killing "absolutely unnecessary" and pointed to other steps that might be taken to prevent the loss of livestock, including the use of rubber bullets to deter mountain lions and using more sophisticated animal pens for protection.

But some residents in areas impacted by mountain lions say they have a right to defend life and property.

Wendell Phillips is one such resident. He lives in Malibu and had several alpacas and horses killed by P-45. He was issued a depredation permit but only managed to graze the animal with a bullet.

Phillips said victims of attacks shouldn't be blamed for not building a better pen or taking other precautions that don't end up working.

"I mean, it would be sort of like tantamount to telling a burglary victim, 'Your burglar alarm wasn't the best and therefore you're at fault for being burglarized,'" he said.

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

You can listen to the full debate on AirTalk.

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