A young mountain lion wearing a radio collar for state research was shot dead this month after it killed several domestic animals in the Adelaida area west of Paso Robles.
The young male — named SM-2 — was one of two wild cats in San Luis Obispo County that scientists have been able to trap and affix with a radio collar for a statewide mountain lion project by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Location data from the radio collars helps scientists create a minimum population count of lions on the Central Coast.
It's not unusual for residents of rural areas in San Luis Obispo County to lose livestock to mountain lions. Owners who experience a loss can receive a depredation permit to kill the responsible mountain lion; cougars are killed under those permits a few times each year in the county.
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That could have been the fate of SM-2 when it killed seven sheep at a ranch in April. Instead, the rancher, whose name hasn't been released, agreed to allow researchers to collar the lion.
But his patience wouldn't last.
Scientists expected the mountain lion to stay away from the area after he was collared, but the ease of preying on sheep — rather than deer — proved too enticing, according to wildlife biologist Bob Stafford.
The mountain lion returned to the ranch in June and killed a total of 11 sheep and an alpaca in a two-day period, Stafford said. At that point, he issued a depredation permit at the request of the rancher.
The mountain lion was trapped and shot to death by Wildlife Services on June 14.
An examination showed that the animal, who weighed 110 pounds and was about a year and a half old, was healthy at the time of his death.