The mountain lion P-22. Photo courtesy National Park Service.
The mountain lion P-22. Photo courtesy National Park Service.

Plans to destroy a mountain lion that killed 11 alpaca and a goat last weekend is drawing a lot of pushback, including from defenders who argue that the animal was merely doing what mountain lions do.

In response to the livestock killing, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife issued a so-called depredation order, which under state law grants a person the right to shoot a mountain lion if it has been killing livestock or pets.

The mountain lion living above Malibu and identified as P-45 allegedly tore apart 10 alpaca at one ranch near Mulholland Highway at Decker Canyon Road on Saturday and another alpaca and a goat Sunday at a second ranch.

But environmentalists, state and federal officials across Southern California are against the rancher’s aim to hunt down the male mountain lion.

“I understand if you lost the animals you’re raising and are upset” Michael Bell, founder of Encino-based Citizens for a Humane Los Angeles, told the Los Angeles Daily News. But P-45 “should be left alone to do what mountain lions do. If people have livestock, they should go to great extremes to protect their own without killing a natural predator.”

The National Park Service issued a statement saying the only long-term solution to keeping the big cats in the wild around Los Angeles is to erect mountain lion-proof enclosures for pets and livestock.

“Eliminating P-45 does not solve the problem, especially given there are at least four mountain lions in the Santa Monica Mountains that have killed livestock over the past year,” Kate Kuykendall, acting deputy superintendent for the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, said in the statement. “Nor is P-45’s behavior abnormal or aberrant in any way.”

State Sen.-elect Henry Stern, who will represent the region after being sworn in Dec. 5, said he will call on state game wardens to find a solution other than the cat’s death.

The National Wildlife Federation, whose Save L.A. Cougars campaign is working with state and federal agencies to save the Santa Monica Mountains cats, has offered to pay for livestock protection for the rancher. The safeguard measures include secured pens, guard dogs and outdoors lights.

“We want a landscape that’s safe for wildlife, livestock, pets and people,” the federation’s California director, Beth Pratt-Bergstrom, said in remarks quoted by the Daily News.

The California Department of Fish & Wildlife, National Park Service and the Mountain Lion Foundation will hold a workshop tonight in Agoura Hills to offer information about the local lion mountain population and methods for safeguarding animals. The workshop is scheduled for 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Paramount Ranch, 2903 Cornell Road.

—City News Service

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