Cougar that killed 10 al­pacas not to be shot

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD - By AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS in Mal­ibu, Cal­i­for­nia

A Cal­i­for­nia moun­tain lion placed un­der a death sen­tence for killing nearly a dozen al­pacas owned by a Mal­ibu woman was granted a re­prieve on Thursday when the woman an­nounced she wouldn’t act on a state-is­sued per­mit giv­ing her the right to kill the an­i­mal.

A neigh­bor had of­fered to shoot the big cat known as P-45 for Vic­to­ria Vaughn-Per­ling, but she told re­porters it was never her in­ten­tion to have the cougar killed. In­stead, she said, she hoped game of­fi­cials would cap­ture it and get it away from her ranch.

She also in­di­cated pub­lic out­rage might have played a role in her de­ci­sion, adding she was “sur­prised by the vit­riol”.

Vaughn-Per­ling had planned to at­tend a com­mu­nity meet­ing on Wed­nes­day to dis­cuss the lion prob­lem un­til she feared she would be­gin to get death threats. Pro-lion peo­ple shouted over park rangers, booed speak­ers and chal­lenged one rancher to a fight.

“Re­mem­ber those movies where they showed the mobs and it’s all the towns­peo­ple and they’re car­ry­ing torches and pitch­forks and hoes and shov­els and the per­son be­hind is bring­ing the rope with the hang­man’s noose? That’s what it was like,” area res­i­dent Mary Dee Rickards said. “She buck­led un­der the pres­sure and frankly, I can’t blame her.”

It’s not un­com­mon for ranch­ers to kill wild an­i­mals that threaten their live­stock in ru­ral ar­eas, but the densely pop­u­lated Los An­ge­les area’s re­la­tion­ship with them is more com­pli­cated.

Much of the sprawl­ing San- ta Moun­tain range pro­vides habi­tat and wild game for the free-rang­ing preda­tors, but it also takes in such densely pop­u­lated ar­eas as Mal­ibu, the Hol­ly­wood Hills and parts of the San Fernando Val­ley.

An­other cougar known as P-22 be­came a celebrity of sorts after it was pho­tographed stand­ing by the Hol­ly­wood Sign in 2012 and more re­cently was coaxed safely out of a home­owner’s base­ment in the Hol­ly­wood Hills, where it had briefly taken up res­i­dence. The cougar, which has its own Face­book page, saw its im­age tar­nished some­what ear­lier this year, how­ever, when it was blamed for killing a koala at the Los An­ge­les Zoo.

An­other cougar wan­dered onto a high school cam­pus in the San Fernando Val­ley in April be­fore it was tran­quil­ized and re­turned to the wild.

An­i­mal lovers flooded the Face­book page of the Santa Mon­ica Moun­tains Na­tional Recreation Area after the kill per­mit for P-45 was is­sued.

“It’s sick­en­ing that this an­i­mal is go­ing to be ex­e­cuted,” one per­son wrote. An­other wrote: “So they’re go­ing to kill a lion for be­ing a lion. Ridicu­lous and shame­ful.”

It was last week­end that Vaughn-Per­ling said she found the cougar had killed 10 of her al­pacas and eaten only one.

“It seems to en­joy the slaugh­ter,” she said. “This an­i­mal will at­tack a child or a hiker be­cause it’s so com­fort­able with the slaugh­ter.”

Seth Ri­ley, an ecol­o­gist for the Na­tional Park Ser­vice, said the al­paca slaugh­ter isn’t un­usual be­hav­ior for a cougar.

She buck­led un­der the pres­sure and frankly, I can’t blame her.” Mary Dee Rickards, Mal­ibu res­i­dent

NICK UT / AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Al­pacas rest at Vic­to­ria Vaughn-Per­ling’s ranch on Thursday. Last week­end, 10 of her al­pacas were killed by a moun­tain lion.

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