Criminal charges were filed against a Simi Valley man for the killing of a protected mountain lion, the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office announced Tuesday.
Alfredo Gonzalez, 59, allegedly shot and killed the protected mammal known as P-38, according statement released by Karen Wold, the deputy district attorney.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife received a report that P-38 may have been killed on July 2, 2019, the statement said. The mountain lion died of a gunshot wound to the head, the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office stated.
In addition, Gonzalez was also being charged with vandalism of the mountain lion’s collar. Gonzalez will be arraigned on Oct. 9, 2019 in Ventura.
Kevin Gres, who identified himself as an attorney for Gonzalez, released the following statement in response the the charges:
“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. 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 a male mountain lion born in 2012 and first collared in 2015, the statement said. The animal was known for roaming portions of the Santa Susana Mountains.
“It is unlawful to kill a mountain lion without a permit for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife,” the statement said.
Mountain lions are a specially protected species in California under the California Wildlife Protection Act of 1990, approved as Prop 117 by California voters. The classification has nothing to do with mountain lion numbers in California, but its passage made it illegal to hunt the big cats.
The mountain lion population is high in California, relative to other parts of the United States. Density estimates vary, but the figure might be as high as 10 lions per 100 square miles. By that estimate, the population is somewhere between 4,000 to 6,000 mountain lions statewide.
But it’s difficult to say whether that population is increasing or decreasing without an ongoing statewide study.
One thing is certain — mountain lions go where they can find food, primarily deer. That sometimes brings them into urban areas, but it should be noted that a person is 1,000 times more likely to be struck by lightning than attacked by a mountain lion, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
The department receives hundreds of reports each year about mountain lions killing pets and livestock.
Simi Valley Man Shoots and Kills Mountain Lion P-38
Alfredo Gonzalez, 60, has been criminally charged with one misdemeanor count of killing a mountain lion and one misdemeanor count of vandalizing its tracking collar.
It seems the local mountain lion population just can’t catch a break lately—if they’re not killed trying to cross the freeway, ingesting prey full of rat poison or getting burned in the wildfires, they die from getting shot in the head.
A Simi Valley man has been charged in the fatal shooting of a protected mountain lion that was being studied by researchers, the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office announced last week. Alfredo Gonzalez, 60, was charged with one misdemeanor count of killing the mountain lion known as P-38, as well as a misdemeanor for vandalism for removing its tracking collar.
Mountain lions are protected mammals, and it is illegal to kill them without a depredation permit from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife—and last year, those permits became increasingly hard to obtain, after the state tightened its regulations on issuing them.
On July 10, the National Park Service (NPS) received the first report of P-38’s death after a mortality signal was sent from its collar in Simi Valley on July 2, according to the district attorney’s office. NPS researchers found the body on July 10 on the grounds of the 2,200-acre American Jewish University campus, located about 18 miles directly north of Malibu.
After an investigation headed by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife was conducted, authorities determined P-38 died after being shot in the head eight days earlier. His tracking collar, worth an estimated $2,300, had been cut off and removed.
In a phone interview with TMT, Senior Deputy District Attorney Karen Wold of Ventura County confirmed that the tracking collar was found one to two miles away from P-38’s body, not next to the body as reported by some news outlets.
Gonzalez’s first court date was originally scheduled for October, but has now been advanced to Monday, Sept. 23, at 9:00 in Courtroom 11 of Ventura Superior Court, Wold said in the interview. If convicted, Gonzalez could be sentenced to a year in jail and a $10,000 fine for killing the cougar. He might also have to pay $2,300 in restitution for vandalizing the collar.
Wold explained the misdemeanor charge for taking the radio collar might be upgraded to a felony charge because the collar was valued at $2,300, and theft of property over $950 constitutes grand theft under California law. As a misdemeanor, destroying the collar would carry a penalty of up to a year in jail, but as a felony theft charge, it could mean up to three years in jail.
Various news sources reported Gonzales lived on the campus of the Brandeis-Bardin campus of American Jewish University in Simi Valley and was employed as a livestock keeper there, tending to goats and other animals. ABC7 reported that he has since been terminated by the university.
American Jewish University released a press statement since the incident, saying, “We have been fully cooperating with the Ventura District Attorney on this matter and are committed to working closely with the California Department of Fish & Wildlife, other relevant authorities and community partners to make sure AJU is prepared for any foreseeable situation involving wildlife in the future.”
Gonzales hired defense attorney Kevin Gres, who issued a statement on behalf of his client, saying, “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. 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, one of the oldest Southern California mountain lions being studied by the NPS, was born in 2012 and collared in 2015. He dominated large areas of the Santa Susana Mountains between the Ventura (101) Freeway and State Route 118 and is believed to have fathered at least four different litters, including three kittens with P-39: P-50, P-51 and P-52, which were discovered in the eastern Santa Susana Mountains in July 2016.
The only other local mountain lion known to have been intentionally illegally killed by a human was P-15; the seven-year-old male mountain lion was killed by a poacher in the summer of 2011, according to NPS. His body was found by hikers in the western Santa Monica Mountains decapitated and with four severed paws. The killer was never found.
A Southern California mountain lion was shot in the head. Now charges have been filed
Rangers in the Santa Monica Mountains on Monday, April 24, 2017, recently captured two young adult male mountain lions who researchers as part of their study on the species’ ability to survive in an urban area. The two cats are now known as P-55 a BY SANTA MONICA MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARKS SERVICE
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.