The mountain lion "P-45" was captured and tagged in 2015 and may have killed upwards of 50 animals. Courtesy National Park Service
The mountain lion “P-45” was captured and tagged in 2015 and may have killed upwards of 50 animals. Courtesy National Park Service

The rancher who obtained a permit to hunt a mountain lion after it killed 10 of her alpacas told reporters Thursday that she does not want to kill the animal, but instead sought the permit to raise awareness about the threats to local pets and livestock posed by the native big cats.

The animal known as P-45 is believed to have killed more than 50 farm animals this year in the mountains above Malibu, including 10 alpaca and a goat at Victoria Vaughn-Perling’s property last weekend.

“Mountain lions are great, they’re all part of this environment in this area, but this one seems to be very prolific,” Vaughn-Perling said.

Under state law, game wardens were requited to issue a “depradation permit” — a 10-day hunting license to kill the predator. Instead, Vaughn- Perling said Thursday that she plans to take measures to protect her animals in the future, including installing a chain-link fence.

“Fish and wildlife has been incredibly helpful and we have followed all their suggestions,” Vaughn-Perling said. “It’s hard to anticipate what will happen — they do say it can jump over a bus.”

Vaughn-Perling did not attend a public information meeting Wednesday night in Agoura Hills, where wildlife advocates reacted strongly when her attorney, Reid Breitman, mentioned a plan to trap P-45 and relocate him to a wildlife refuge.

“Victoria wants it relocated, and we’ve arranged for the Wildlife Way Station to accept the animal,” Breitman said at the meeting called by the National Park Service.

“I understand that there is a lot of opposition to that,” Breitman said, as cries of no arose from the overflow crowd. “Some people even think it’s better to have it dead than relocated, some people have actually said that, and we think it’s horrible.”

Wildlife Way Station founder Martine Colette told KNX 1070 Thursday that it would be best if P-45 and the local ranchers could co-exist peacefully, but if that does not happen, then “of course he’ll be welcome here.”

She added that the Way Station already has about eight mountain lions, and that the final decision on whether to trap and relocate the animal rests with the Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The Park Service’s community meeting was scheduled weeks ago to help ranchers living within park boundaries in the Santa Monica Mountains learn to keep their sheep, alpaca and goats safely co-existing with the 10-15 mountain lions who live in the mountains between Malibu and the Ventura (101) Freeway.

Park Service biologist Seth Riley showed the crowd satellite data from P- 45 and other studied cougars, and stressed that the animals avoid people and ranches.

Riley also said that in a dozen years of study, with tens of thousands of people hiking or riding horses in the Santa Monica Mountains, there have been no attacks on people.

A volunteer from the Mountain Lion Foundation urged the animal rights activists to work with the animal owners living in the Santa Monica Mountains.

“We don’t need to demonize,” said Leah Sturgis, who lives in Topanga Canyon. “Nobody wants to kill these lions. We met with some of the ranchers today and they have been very cooperative and very kind and they invited us into their land to help them protect their livestock.”

–City News Service 

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