Ventura District Attorney Gregory Totten has filed criminal charges against Simi Valley resident Alfredo Gonzalez, 60, for the killing of a protected mammal, mountain lion P-38, and for allegedly vandalizing the big cat’s radio collar.
P-38 was an adult male mountain lion whose range was in the Santa Susana Mountains. The cat, thought to have been born in 2012, was tagged and collared in 2015, as part of the National Park Service’s (NPS) monitoring project.
NPS biologists detected a “mortality signal from P-38’s collar on July 2, and reported it to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. A press release from District Attorney Totten states, “It was ultimately determined that the mountain lion died of a gunshot wound to the head.”
In 1990, mountain lions were given “specially protected species” status in California, making it illegal to kill, injure, possess, transport, import, or sell any mountain lion or part of a mountain lion without a special depredation permit from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. The only other exemption is if the killing can reasonably be shown to have been in self defense.
Details on the case are still pending, but if convicted, Gonzalez could receive up to a year in jail and a $10,000 fine for the misdemeanor charged in the killing of the mountain lion. He was also charged with a second misdemeanor for allegedly vandalizing the cat’s tracking collar. Gonzalez allegedly removed the collar from the dead cat and deliberately hid it.
Because the collar is valued at $2,500 the misdemeanor could be changed to a felony, depending on the evidence. The misdemeanor carries a maximum sentence of a $1000 fine and a year in prison. A felony vandalism can result in up to a three-year sentence and a $10,000 fine. Either way, Gonzalez is expected to also face restitution costs for the collar.
Gonzalez will be arraigned on October 9, 2019.