We’re angered and saddened by the news that California state officials have issued a permit to kill the mountain lion known as P-45 after the big cat was “strongly suspected” of killing alpacas and a goat at ranches in the Malibu hills.
This 5-year-old mountain lion, who has managed to cross busy highways safely, has avoided ingesting a lethal dose of rat poison and has successfully claimed his territory from his fellow cougars. His fatal mistake, according to California wildlife officials however, was doing what mountain lions naturally do so well: killing and eating prey.
While it’s illegal to hunt mountain lions in California thanks to 1990’s Proposition 117, but the initiative included an exception for residents whose livestock is killed by a lion. And on Monday, the owner of the 10 dead alpacas requested and received a special “depredation permit” to hire a hunter to kill P-45. The 10-day permit allows the hunter to cover a 10-mile range around the ranch in search of the lion, and hunters often lure the lion with a deer carcass.
But killing P-45 is absolutely not the answer, especially when he is one of the few adult male mountain lions in an isolated population that is at risk of extinction.
What makes the situation even more unbelievably frustrating is that the state is considering building a $33-million wildlife overpass over the 101 Freeway to allow lions to mingle and mate outside of their families. But it makes absolutely no sense to spend millions of dollars building a wildlife overpass for the survival of the mountain lions and yet issue depredation permits to residents so they can kill the wild animals for behaving like wild animals.
If anything, Los Angeles residents are lucky to live near wild, open spaces large enough to sustain mountain lions. Humans should be modifying their behaviors to manage the conflicts that arise when humans and their domestic animals move into areas that have long served as habitat for wildlife.