Conservation advocates are rallying in the wake of the deliberate killing of P-56, one of just two known male mountain lions in the Santa Monica Mountains. The killing, authorized by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife by a depredation permit, ignited a ferocious debate over protections for the remaining population of big cats.
The killing took place in Camarillo, in the Ventura County portion of the mountains, and the Ventura County Board of Supervisors has voted 3:2 to support giving the remaining lions threatened status under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA). The resolution also calls for ending kill permits of this endangered species in cases when they attack domesticated animals.
Los Angeles County Third District Supervisor Sheila Kuehl added her voice to the calls for more protections.
Kuehl’s district includes most of the Santa Monica Mountains. In a letter to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Kuehl expressed anger that the depredation permit was issued without consulting any other agencies, not even the National Park Service, which was monitoring the mountain lion as part of its ongoing study via radio collar.
“I find it particularly egregious that the California Department of Fish and Wildlife did not consult their partner agencies to help make certain the landowner had truly taken all necessary steps to avoid loss of livestock and to give us the opportunity to dissuade the landowner from using deadly force before issuing the depredation permit,” Kuehl wrote.
“No one landowner or agency should have the ability to eradicate such a magnificent species from its natural environment, and we must learn to coexist with the wildlife who lived here before us.”
Kuehl outlines the critical importance of the local mountain lion population and her expectations for future action to avoid another incident and requests that the remaining animals be given protection under CESA.
“Let me be clear,” she wrote. “I expect extraordinary efforts to save the last remaining mountain lions in the Santa Monica Mountains. I hope you do, too.”
The CESA request will be heard by the Fish and Game Board on April 15 or 16 in Sacramento. Major opposition is already coming from a variety of mining, farming and cattle ranching special interest groups, despite the fact that none of the activities they represent have a major presence in the Santa Monica Mountains
Government officials and lobbyists aren’t the only ones who can weigh in on the issue; the public also has a voice.
Written comments can be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org; or mailed to California Fish and Game Commission, P.O. Box 944209, Sacramento, CA 94244-2090.