NAPA (KPIX 5) — On Saturday, a young mountain lion was shot and killed outside a house near Napa by a homeowner protecting his flock of sheep. The incident is now raising questions about the responsibility of homeowners who bring livestock into the urban interface.
The homeowner shot the cougar, which had already killed two of his sheep and was coming back for more. It was the same cat, a young male dubbed P15, that just a week before had killed a goat at Patricia Damery’s house about a mile away.
Damery called in a group called “Living With Lions” that captured P15 and equipped him with a radio collar to track his movements along with about a dozen other lions.
“Well, it was disappointing because it’s just senseless,” said Dr. Quinton Martins, the project’s director. He believes it’s time rural property owners stop blaming the predators and start taking responsibility for leaving livestock unprotected on the edges of wildland areas.
“We know that if you kill one, well, it goes to kitty heaven and another one comes in and does exactly the same thing. So, we haven’t solved the problem.”
Dr. Martins advocates permits to kill mountain lions be denied to any homeowners who don’t provide some kind of predator-proof enclosure for their livestock, such as a covered pen or sleeping shed. That’s what Damery has now created for her goats so she doesn’t have to fight every lion roaming the hillside.
“It was like I was coming to my senses again, that we needed to protect the goats, we needed to protect ourselves and there were real ways to do that,” said Damery.
Dr. Martins says homeowners will sleep easier if they lock up their pets and livestock and will stop creating an attractive buffet for the predators.
“And every single night, you’ll be guaranteed that there’s a hundred percent chance that your animals won’t be killed!” he said.
But the Living With Lions project has a long way to go in convincing rural property owners not to blame the mountain lions. So far, one quarter of the cats they have trapped and collared have already been killed.
If you would like more information about the Sonoma County Living With Lions project, visit https://www.egret.org/living-with-lions.