A young male mountain lion in the western Santa Monica Mountains was killed two weeks ago by a ranch owner with e permit.
And wildlife researchers say they are concerned that the killing of cougar P-56 will affect the small group of cougars living in the mountains above Malibu.
"The loss of a breeding male is a concern for the study, especially when the population is already very small,” said Jeff Sikich, the lead field biologist for the project, in remarks released Monday.
While he acknowledged that "there are always animals out there that are not being tracked. Currently, there is only one adult male in the Santa Monica Mountains that we are tracking."
It was not clear where the cougar was killed. NPS officials were vague, saying only it was south of U.S> 101 and in the western part of the mountain range.
The killing of P-56 was the first time that a radio-collared mountain lion has been killed under a California Department of Fish & Wildlife (CDFW) depredation permit in the Santa Monica Mountains, according to the National Park Service.
The state wildlife agency is in charge of investigating cougar incidents, and issues kill permits when a mountain lion is ignoring efforts to drive it away.
NPS officials said that the landowner in this instance brought in as close to a barn and houses, and used trained guard dogs, hot wire fencing, motion activated lights and loud radios.
Over two years, this property owner had nine depredation incidents resulting in the loss of 12 animals.
Since 1990, mountain lion hunting has been banned in California, and mountain lions are designated by the state as a “specially protected mammal.” However, a mountain lion may still be killed if it harms pets or livestock and the property owner requests a depredation permit from CDFW.
P-56 was first caught and outfitted with a GPS tracking collar in April 2017, a few days after young male P-55 was captured in the same spot. They are suspected to be brothers. P-56 was also the suspected father of P-70, P-71, P-72 and P-73, based on time that he spent traveling with adult female P-19.
CDFW has a number of recommendations for keeping mountain lions wild on their website https://wildlife.ca.gov/Keep-Me-Wild/Lion, which include confining livestock in a full enclosure at night.

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