Malibu alpaca rancher won't hunt and kill mountain lion - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Malibu alpaca rancher won't hunt and kill mountain lion

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MALIBU, Calif. (AP) — A Malibu rancher who got a California state permit to shoot a mountain lion preying on her alpacas says she never intended to have the cougar killed and hopes it's relocated instead.

Victoria Vaughn-Perling said Thursday she got the permit to draw attention to the issue and was surprised at the anger has erupted over the possibility that the mountain lion could be killed.

Last weekend, Vaughn-Perling found 10 of her alpacas dead at her ranch in the rugged Santa Monica Mountains above the tony Malibu coast.

The area is the territory of a male lion known as P-45. He is among  a small number of big cats living in the mountain range that runs from near downtown Los Angeles about 40 miles west.

The mountain lion population is hemmed in by freeways and urban sprawl.

They face threats of being hit by vehicles, poisoned by rodenticides and a lack of genetic diversity.

This is a Breaking News Update to previous story below.

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - The plan to destroy a mountain lion who 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.

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