Man who shot mountain lion in head sentenced to 30 days in jail, California DA says

A Southern California man was sentenced to 30 days in jail on Thursday for shooting a mountain lion in the head and killing it, according to prosecutors.

Alfredo Gonzalez, a 60-year-old Simi Valley man, pleaded guilty to charges of unlawful taking of a protected mountain lion, the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office said in a news release. A judge also sentenced Gonzalez to 30 days in a work release program and ordered that the rifle used in the shooting be destroyed.

Gonzalez was charged in the death of the protected mountain lion, known as P-38, after its GPS-tracking collar sent out a mortality signal on July 2 and state authorities were alerted on July 10, prosecutors said.

“It was ultimately determined that the mountain lion died of a gunshot wound to the head,” prosecutors said in an earlier news release announcing charges against Gonzalez. “It is unlawful to kill a mountain lion without a permit from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.”

Prosecutors also charged Gonzalez with vandalizing the protected animal’s tracking collar. The District Attorney’s Office said he cut the $2,300 device off the mountain lion, the Ventura County Star reported in September.

Gonzalez’ attorney previously said his client was trying to protect children by shooting the P-38.

“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,” attorney Kevin Gres said in a September statement to the San Luis Obispo Tribune. “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.”

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Born in 2012, P-38 was a male mountain lion known to roam the Santa Susana Mountains, according to prosecutors. He was collared in 2015 as part of a program National Park Service biologists created more than a decade ago to study the wild cats around the Los Angeles area.

Prosecutors said Gonzalez will also be required to pay restitution and perform 240 hours of community service.

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Jared Gilmour is a McClatchy national reporter based in San Francisco. He covers everything from health and science to politics and crime. He studied journalism at Northwestern University and grew up in North Dakota.