It’s bad enough that urban mountain lions have freeways dissecting their territory, poisoned varmints for prey and an ever-shrinking space to roam – now this: poaching by humans.
The small population of mountain lions in the Santa Monica Mountains got a little smaller last month with the discovery of a badly mutilated lion in the Ventura County portion of the wilderness area. Officers say the lion was attacked and killed by human hands.
A $5,000 reward has recently been posted by the California Department of Fish and Game and the Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust for information leading to the arrest and conviction of whoever killed P-15, a 7-year-old male.
In addition, the City of Calabasas is also offering $5,000 reward, and two other groups – the Ventura County based Animal Rescue Team, Inc. and San Diego’s Mountain Lion Foundation – put up an additional $1,700 for a total reward of $11,700.
The mutilated carcass was found on the side of a road near Rancho Sierra Vista Road. In the State of California, it’s illegal to hunt or trap mountain lions.
P-15’s death comes shortly after the death of another mountain lion, P-18 that was killed on the 405 Freeway near Getty Center. P-18 was a mere 5 months old.
These deaths strike a below-the-belt blow for urban cougars. According to the Acorn:
Lauren Newman, spokesperson for the National Park Service, said perhaps only seven mountain lions remain in the Santa Monica Mountains.
“That habitat area in general could support up to 10, but probably no more than that,” Newman said.
A female born last year is currently the only mountain lion in the Santa Monica Mountains with a working collar. Another female, P-13, and a male, P12, had collars that prematurely failed, so the department doesn’t know exactly where the animals are, Newman said.
Remote camera photos also picked up an uncollared male mountain lion in the eastern end of the mountains.
Smeck said the two males killed last month were critical for breeding.
“We can find anywhere between three to five females in the territory of a male. So the loss of a male is particularly troubling,” he said.
To claim that $11,700 reward – or to offer any information on the death of mountain lion P-15, call the Department of Fish and Game at (888) 334-2258.
Photo: Mountain Lion P-15, National Park Service