Environment & Science

Wildlife officials issue permit to kill Malibu mountain lion P-45

Screenshot of the 4-year-old male, dubbed P-45, that is believed to have killed about a dozen farm animals.
Screenshot of the 4-year-old male, dubbed P-45, that is believed to have killed about a dozen farm animals.
NBC L.A.

California wildlife officials have issued a permit to a Malibu rancher to shoot a mountain lion suspected of killing 10 alpacas, a goat and a sheep in two separate Thanksgiving weekend attacks.

The permit, issued by the California Department of Fish & Wildlife, allows the owner of the Malibu property where the attack took place to shoot and kill the mountain lion known as P–45. Under California law, the owner will have 10 days to kill the lion, after which the permit will expire.

P-45 was discovered in the area last December. Scientists said he was the largest to be tracked in the study area since 2002.

In a follow-up statement, officials with the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area urged residents of the region to take further steps to defend their pets and livestock, arguing the only long-term solution to the problem was for locals to lion-proof their animal enclosures.

“Eliminating P–45 does not solve the problem, especially given there are at least four mountain lions in the Santa Monica Mountains that have killed livestock over the past year,” the agency wrote in a statement posted to Facebook. “Nor is P–45’s behavior abnormal or aberrant in any way, even if the number of animals killed is large.”

The statement noted that mountain lions’ natural response can be to prey upon any and all animals stuck in an unsecured pen.

Sometime Saturday night, P–45 is believed to have entered a Malibu property, bypassing an electric fence and motion sensitive lights that were installed to deter the animal. An alpaca and a goat were also killed at a different ranch on Sunday.

Lt. Marty Wall, an officer with CDFW, told KPCC earlier he wasn’t aware the lion had been identified, but he knew without a doubt it was a mountain lion that had attacked and killed all 12 animals.

“Lion tracks are very distinctive and different from dog tracks,” he said. “And when it comes to an animal that weighs more than he does, there’s a very specific way they do that.”

Section 4802 of California’s Fish and Game code states that any person whose livestock or property has been damaged can request a permit to kill the lion responsible. But not many farmers know they can get a permit to kill the predator harming their animals, Wall said.

When he arrived at the scene of the attack, the owner said she had a dozen alpacas killed by a lion last year in a similar incident but didn’t know she could get a permit to kill the lion, Wall said. Instead of receiving a permit, the owner chose to just bury the llamas and move on.

Efforts to prevent human and lion clashes range from a National Park Service photo series to catching and tracking lions. Activists are also working to install a multi-million dollar wildlife corridor over the 101 freeway.

“Mountain lion attacks on livestock are just part of living in an area where mountain lions are present,” Wall said. “But I will give these owners credit for trying. They had measures in place.”

A workshop for local residents called “Living in Mountain Lion Country” will be held on Wednesday night. Coffee and cookies will be served and residents can learn how to protect their pets and livestock from future attacks, according to the park service.

This story has been updated.