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One of the mountain lions roaming the mountains north of Los Angeles was allegedly shot and killed by a Simi Valley man, the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office said on Tuesday.
The man, identified as Alfredo Gonzalez, 60, of Simi Valley, is being charged with killing a protected mammal and vandalizing its collar, according to the District Attorney’s Office. Both charges are misdemeanor offenses, according to the Thousand Oaks Acorn.
The 7-year-old male mountain lion, called P-38, was wearing a GPS-enabled radio collar, which allowed National Park Service biologists to study its whereabouts, the District Attorney’s Office said.
On July 10, the National Park Service reported to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife that they detected a “mortality signal” from P-38’s collar on July 2, and P-38 may have been killed in Simi Valley, according to the release.
“It was ultimately determined that the mountain lion died of a gunshot wound to the head,” the District Attorney’s Office said.
Mountain lions are a “specially protected species,” which means hunting them is illegal, and it’s illegal to kill them without a permit, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. However, people can kill mountain lions if there’s a safety threat.
Gonzalez is scheduled to be arraigned on Oct. 9, according to the District Attorney’s Office. No motive has been released in the shooting, the Associated Press reported.
Gonzalez’s attorney, Kevin Gres, said in a statement to The Tribune that Gonzalez killed the mountain lion to protect children.
“While the loss of P-38 is saddening, the mountain lion was discovered at night actively hunting just yards from children attending a popular summer camp,” Gres said. “Mr. Gonzalez’s brave and decisive actions that night saved lives. It is disappointing that local authorities fail to see the obvious, but we are confident the justice system will.”
P-38 was born in 2012 and roamed the Santa Susana Mountains north of Los Angeles, according to the National Park Service. P-38 is also believed to have fathered at least four different litters.
The agency has been monitoring mountain lions in and around the Santa Monica Mountains since 2002. The animals are threatened by “loss and fragmentation of habitat by roads and development,” which leads to deaths from vehicle collisions and inbreeding, as the mountain lions “are basically trapped on an island of habitat.”
This story was updated on Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019, to include a comment from Gonzalez’s attorney.