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Mountain Lion P-45's Days May Be Numbered After He Kills Ten Alpacas In Malibu

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It was a bloody weekend for the alpacas of Malibu Canyon, and one of L.A.'s favorite mountain lions appears to be to blame. On Saturday night, ten alpacas were killed by a mountain lion at a ranch on Mulholland Highway, according to California Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesman Andrew Hughan. "It's strongly suspected that it was P-45," said Hughan, describing one of the area mountain lions.

"It wasn't reported to us until Sunday night. Since they were already dead, there was nothing to investigate or rush to get out there," Hughan told LAist. "So, [the state warden] went out today and found and verified that yes, a mountain lion who is suspected to be P-45 killed ten alpacas on Saturday night and then on Sunday night killed another alpaca and a goat at a separate location about two miles away."

The location in question—at the center of the mountains between Malibu and Thousand Oaks—is considered to be P-45's home range. Zach Behrens, a senior communications fellow for the Santa Monica Mountains, was able to confirm to LAist that P-45 had been in the area on Saturday night (the National Park Service tracks area mountain lions with GPS collars).

"The warden told me that this woman [whose alpacas were killed on Saturday] and her farm had done a good job trying to protect her animals. They had electric fences, they had motion lights, but the lion was very determined and got in there anyway," said Hughan.

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P-45. (Photo courtesy of the National Park Service)
"It's obvious it's the lion," Mary-Dee Rickards, a Mulholland Highway resident, said in an interview with KBUU-FM radio in Malibu today, according to City News Service. City News Service reports that residents "in the scattered homes and rugged territory off Mulholland Highway at Decker Canyon Road" blame P-45 for killing sheep and alpacas kept as pets on ranches. P-45 is also suspected of badly injuring an area horse several months ago. The department has now issued what is called a depredation permit to the rancher, which, according to Hughan, "allows her to hire someone to track down and kill that mountain lion."

"That's state law," Hughan explained. "If a mountain lion destroys your property, which this livestock is, then under state law the property owner can ask for the permit, and we shall issue the permit. There's no negotiation or leeway."

Hughan confirmed that a depredation permit had, in fact, been issued to the rancher and that she had already "hired an agent to make the attempt."

"Now, that doesn't mean that she's going to be able to find that animal and kill it, it just gives her permission to try," he said.

It's possible that P-45's days may now be numbered, but fans of the L.A. mountain lion needn't mourn him yet. Hughan reports that the permit comes with a number of conditions: it expires in ten days, and "the hunter cannot travel more than ten miles from her home looking for this lion."

Hughan also advised residents of the area to be aware that there is an active mountain lion in the vicinity. "If you live anywhere near Mulholland Highway, you should make sure to keep your pets in," he said. "Don't let your little kids run around the yard by themselves, especially at sunrise and sunset. Keep the dog food in. Just be aware that there's an animal running around."

Related: The Mountain Lions Are Hunting Among Us
Santa Monica Mountain Lions May Go Extinct Because They're Trapped By Freeways, Says Study