Property owner legally kills mountain lion under new Calif. law

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LOS ANGELES — A mountain lion was killed in the Santa Monica Mountains, becoming the first killed under the state’s depredation law, a National Park Service news release said Monday.

A 4 to 5-year-old mountain lion named “P-56” lived in the western Santa Monica Mountains south of Highway 101, where a local property owner killed him on January 27. Over the past two years the land owner had reported nine attacks that resulted in the loss of 12 animals to the mountain lion, the release said.

Mountain lions are designated by California as a “specially protected mammal” and hunting has been banned since 1990, NPS said.

However, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife implemented a “three-strike” policy in December 2017 allowing property owners to kill mountain lions. If the feline has killed or injured livestock or pets, a property owner may kill a mountain lion after he or she has used “non-lethal means” to deter the lion, NPS said.

The park service has been studying the small population of mountain lions in the Santa Monica mountains for the past 18 years.

“The loss of a breeding male is a concern for the study, especially when the population is already very small,” said Jeff Sikich, the lead field biologist for the project. “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 was first caught and outfitted with a GPS tracking collar in April 2017, NPS said.

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