P-45 mountain lion no longer faces the death penalty

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The mountain lion known as P-45 has been granted a reprieve by the owner of 10 alpacas that the big cat is suspected of slaughtering recently.

Victoria Vaughn-Perling will work with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the National Park Service toward a goal of having authorities capture the animal and then decide whether to relocate it in the Santa Monica Mountains or place it in captivity, her attorney, Reid Breitman, said Thursday.

State officials on Monday issued a permit to Vaughn-Perling to kill the mountain lion, after the 5-year-old predator was suspected of killing 10 alpacas and injuring two others on Saturday at ranches off Mulholland Highway and Little Sycamore Canyon Road, said Andrew Hughan, a spokesman for the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The attacks drew national attention and sparked an outcry among some animal welfare activists, who called it unfair to punish the puma for acting on its instincts.

“Victoria initially took out the state depredation permit thinking it allowed her to kill the mountain lion or have it captured and relocated,” Breitman said.

By Thursday, however, wildlife activists and local ranchers in the Malibu hills persuaded her to seek other options, including accepting donations that would enable her to build lion-proof enclosures for her livestock, he said.

Vaughn-Perling also decided to let state wildlife authorities determine “the best approach: either relocate the mountain lion in the Santa Monica Mountains or place it in captivity,” Breitman said.

L.A. County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl issued a statement Thursday regarding the resolution of the fate of P-45.

“I am very grateful to the property owner for her willingness to work with my office, the National Park Service, the National Wildlife Federation, and others, to spare the life of one of the precious few mountain lions left in our Santa Monica Mountains,” Kuehl said. “This is a great example of the constructive ways that government, residents, nonprofits and activists can work together to forge a common-sense solution that is a win-win for wildlife and ranchers.”