Thursday, October 06, 2016

Ranchers fearful of mountain lion attacks

Wendell Phillips and Murray Sumner live about a half-mile apart on ranches in the Santa Monica Mountains. They share a passion for raising goats, alpacas, sheep and other livestock on their properties. But now the men are worried about mountain lion attacks on their livestock. The pair addressed a recent Las Virgenes Homeowners Federation meeting about the threat to their property and the difficulty in finding a solution. “My father-in-law lived on this ranch for 50 years and there were no threats,” he said. “That changed in late 2015. We need a solution so we aren’t living in fear.” Sumner said late last year a mountain lion killed all of his sheep, goats, llamas and alpacas during an attack. Phillips said the same mountain lion, a large cougar called P-45, attacked and killed alpacas and goats on his ranch. Phillips believes a separate mountain lion attacked his horse, but the incident was not confirmed. Phillips took action against the big cat. He said on March 14 he shot P-45 in the head and injured the animal. Under the law, he is allowed to open fire if a cougar poses a threat to his animals. The cat escaped and survived. Another mountain lion also has been stalking the two properties, albeit a younger, lighter animal that has since been identified as P-19. The National Park Service has collared and named about 50 mountain lions in the Santa Monica Mountains to study their eating and breeding habits. Phillips said once mountain lions get a taste for livestock, they find the easy kills irresistible and will often come back for more. He said research shows more than 40 pets and livestock animals have been killed by mountain lions in the Santa Monica Mountains since December 2015. Phillips and his wife, Mary Dee, are animal lovers and operate an animal rescue on their 10-acre ranch. The couple rescues horses, dogs, cats and sometimes exotic animals. He said he didn’t want to shoot the P-45, but had no choice...more

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