Success! L.A. Mountain Lion Avoids Death Sentence for Doing What Comes Naturally

After a famous Los Angeles mountain lion known as P-45 wandered onto a Malibu ranch in the middle of the night over Thanksgiving weekend and killed 10 alpacas left outside in a pen, the property owner asked for and was granted permission from the California Dept. of Fish and Game to shoot and kill the big cat on her property within 10 days.

Wait a minute. P-45 was just doing what any mountain lion would do. The poor alpacas were sitting targets. So why should P-45 lose his life for only doing what comes naturally? (He was identified as the culprit based on the GPS tracking device he wears.)

Hundreds of protesters showed up for a meeting Nov. 30 that was intended to teach local residents how to deal with wildlife in the area. Instead, the agenda changed to the fate of P-45.

The property owner, Victoria Vaughn-Perling, said she didn’t really want P-45 to die, but wanted him to be trapped and moved to another location or wildlife sanctuary.

To save P-45′s life by preventing him from returning to the ranch and trying to feed on the alpaca carcasses, volunteers from the nonprofit Project Coyote installed bright LED lights that shine on the pen.

“We call this action ‘Lights of Life,’” spokeswoman Fauna Tomlinson told the Los Angeles Times. “That’s because we’re trying to save the lives of big cats, livestock and pets, all at once.”

This wasn’t the first time a Malibu homeowner has been issued what’s called a depredation permit to kill P-45.

Calling P-45 “a threat to every creature on four legs,” Wendell Phillips told the L.A. Times he’s received two depredation permits in the past year, after six of his alpacas were killed. Phillips actually almost killed the mountain lion. “He was taking another bite out of one of my alpacas when I took a shot and the bullet bounced off his head,” he told the L.A. Times. P-45 bolted into the hills.

‘Respect Where We Live’

Other Malibu homeowners have also taken action against P-45 and local mountain lions – but by protecting their livestock and pets instead of trying to kill the predators.

“We know that the cougars like to hunt in stealth, so we made it noisy and bright,” Ruth Gomez, who has raised alpacas on her ranch for nearly 20 years, told the L.A. Times. “We would never kill a cougar. That’s stupid.”

Not only is it stupid, but locals are concerned about hunters with depredation permits missing their targets. “That scares everybody more than an elusive mountain lion,” 20-year resident Mollie Helfand told the L.A. Times. “We live in nature—that’s our choice. We’re supposed to understand and respect where we live.”

Care2 member Annetta Bettis agreed and decided to start a petition to save P-45. More than 23,000 Care2 members signed the petition, and we’re happy to report it was a success! Vaughn-Perling has decided not to have P-45 killed or relocated.

With the help of Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, cougar-proof enclosures will be constructed for her surviving livestock. “I obviously wish I had done more” to prevent their deaths, Vaughn-Perling said at a Dec. 2 news conference on her ranch. In a statement, Kuehl said her office will help other property owners in the area install similar enclosures “to protect both their livestock and our precious wildlife.”

This bit of positive news follows more good news for Los Angeles mountain lions, who along with depredation permits face threats like rat poisoning as well as health issues due to inbreeding. To make it easier for them to leave their limited territory, a 71-acre swath of land has been sold that will never be developed. A wildlife bridge across the busy 101 Freeway is also in the works.

Photo credit: YouTube

193 comments

Ruth R
Ruth R2 years ago

Good work on the wildlife animal bridge!

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Ruth R
Ruth R2 years ago

Thank You! Good work on the animal bridge.

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Christine J
Christine J2 years ago

Great effort everyone for getting together and coming up with a solution that works for everyone. Kudos to the alpaca owner for being so sensible.

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Guy C
Guy Chevalier2 years ago

Thank you for this good news...
Special congratulations to Victoria Vaughn-Perling who has taken the right and human decision by protecting efficiency her livestock , the wildlife and thus, saved the life of the mountain lions....
A true exemple for all the others ranchers....

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Pablo B
.2 years ago

tyfs

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Pablo B
.2 years ago

tyfs

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Samantha J
Samantha J2 years ago

@Val Agreed.

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Val M
Val M2 years ago

We are in their territory. Livestock enclosures should be strong enough to keep wildlife out. So glad this cougar was saved!

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Nena C
Nena C2 years ago

wonderful to have success stories! live in peace Mt Lion

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Trish K
Trish K2 years ago

They were here first. Finding a way to live together is very encouraging. I love the idea of lighting the area around the pens so it make it harder to sneak up on them.
Working together - Time tested and successful.

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