The Simi Valley man accused of shooting and killing mountain lion P-38 has been sentenced to 30 days in prison.
Alfredo Gonzalez, 60, pled guilty to the unlawful killing of a protected mammal, and to having vandalized the cat’s GPS collar. In addition to 30 days in jail, Gonzalez was sentenced to 30 days in a work release program, and 240 hours of community service at an animal shelter. He was also placed on three years of summary probation and ordered to pay restitution, according to a press release issued by the Ventura County District Attorney.
The rifle Gonzalez used to shoot the mountain lion was declared a nuisance by the court and ordered to be destroyed.
Gonzalez reportedly shot the mountain lion in the head, and then removed the National Park Service radio collar, transporting it several miles from the site of the shooting.
The death of P-38, an adult male mountain lion, was a blow for researchers studying the cat but a crushing loss for the small population of mountain lions in the Santa Susana Mountains.
National Park Services (NPS) biologists studying the mountain lion population have collected GPS-enabled radio collar data to study mountain lions for more than a decade. P-38 was born in 2012, and first collared in 2015.
NPS biologists detected a mortality signal from P-38’s collar on July 2, 2019. On July 10, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife received a report from the NPS that P-38 may have been killed in Simi Valley. The investigation led to the arrest of Gonzalez.
Mountain lions are a protected species throughout California, but the Los Angeles population is especially vulnerable due to habitat loss, lack of genetic diversity caused by populations being isolated from each other by freeways, hazards like rodenticide poisoning, and poachers, like the suspect in this case, who unlawfully hunt the big cats.
P-38 is the second mountain lion in the study to have been killed by a poacher. P-15 was the first. In 2010, his body was found with the head and paws cut off and his GPS collar missing. Genetic testing was used to identify the remains. State wildlife officials investigated the killing but no arrest was made in the case.
For more information on the NPS mountain lion study, and the challenges the small local mountain lion population faces, visit nps.gov/samo/learn/nature/pumapage.htm.