By JENNIKA INGRAM | Reporter
The death of P-56, a mountain lion that was recently killed by a depredation permit, leaves only one remaining male being tracked in an 18-year study by the National Park Service.
P-56 was killed south of the 101 freeway in the western Santa Monica Mountains on January 27, according to a statement from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. NPS reported that this is the first time that a radio-collared mountain lion has been killed by a CDFW depredation permit.
Despite the species being a “specially protected mammal” in California since mountain lion hunting was banned 30 years ago, property owners can apply for depredation permits if they have been harming pets or livestock.
CDFW added a “three-strike” policy in December 2017 to further ensure the safety of mountain lions, meaning that even if a mountain lion injured or killed livestock or pets, the property owner had to first attempt non-lethal methods to solve the problem.
The unnamed property owner reportedly took several measures over two years to stop P-56 and had a loss of 12 animals, according to CDFW, with P-56 killing a sheep the night before his death.
In reaction to P-56’s death, LA City Councilmembers Paul Koretz and David E. Ryu announced February 11 they want to set up a fund to reimburse individuals who lose an animal due to a mountain lion and end the issuance of depredation permits for mountain lions.
In addition, Palisadian Joseph Edmiston, executive director of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy acting on his own, has offered to pay property owners out of his own pocket to avoid killing mountain lions.
“It’s unconscionable that we killed off one of the last two [collared] male mountain lions left in the Santa Monica Mountains,” Edmiston told the Palisadian-Post.
CDFW does not put out a public notice when it comes to permits of this nature, Edmiston explained, adding that he believes there should be a fund, not a taxpayer fund, for those who lose animals to be reimbursed.
“Bring them in at night,” Edmiston suggested, “and don’t put your animals in an area of risk.”
The property owner brought as many livestock into their home as possible, penned remaining livestock close to the barn and houses, utilized trained guard dogs, used hotwire fencing, motion-activated lights and auditory hazing, according to officials at CDFW.
“The loss of a breeding male is a concern for the study, especially when the population is already very small,” said Jeff Sikich, a lead NPS field biologist, 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.”
P-56, approximately 4 to 5 years old, was part of the NPS study, which looks at how the mountain lion population is faring in a highly fragmented region. He is the presumed father of four mountain lions. His presumed brother, P-55, died by unknown causes in the summer of 2018 at 3 years old.
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