It's illegal to hunt mountain lions in California, but if one harms pets or livestock despite the property owner taking nonlethal steps to stop it, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife can issue a depredation permit allowing the landowner to kill the animal under the state's "three-strike" law. For the first time, that law has been used to kill one of the mountain lions wearing a collar as part of the state's 18-year study tracking the creatures. The mountain lion—also known as a cougar or puma—called P-56, a male between 4 and 5 years old, was suspected of multiple attacks on animals at a Camarillo property, CBS News reports. The landowner said 12 animals were killed during nine incidents over a two-year period, and that the landowner had taken multiple preventive measures.
Those measures included bringing in livestock and penning animals close to buildings if they couldn't be brought in; using hot wire fencing, motion-activated lights, and radio hazing; and utilizing guard dogs. When none of that worked, he was issued a permit, and officials say P-56 was killed at the end of January. "The loss of a breeding male is a concern for the study, especially when the population is already very small," the lead field biologist for the tracking project says in a statement. "Currently, there is only one adult male in the Santa Monica Mountains that we are tracking and that is P-63," though he acknowledges "there are always animals out there that are not being tracked." Many commenters on the Facebook post announcing the killing expressed heartbreak or even disgust, but some acknowledged the complicated situation: "people would be horrified if this adult male started stalking people." (Read more mountain lion stories.)