Four mountain lions were killed in Rescue last month after they killed and ate a goat.
The goat was part of a small herd owned by Ralph Gerken and his family. The Gerkens own the historic Zentgraf House along with 200 acres off of Deer Valley Road.
Gerken said he spotted a mountain lion on the evening of Aug. 15 and took a shot at it.
“The next morning I went out to feed the goats and all but one came walking up the road. I saw the big cat prints and followed them and found what was left of one of my goats,” he said.
Gerken said the mountain lion must have dragged the 200-pound corpse of the goat about 400 feet down the hill, under a fence, and then down to the creek. “You can see where the cat dragged the goat across the road,” he said pointing to the marks leading down to the creek.” The remains of the goat were still visible last week.
Gerken said he started calling different agencies about what to do about the mountain lion. According to Wildlife Program Supervisor with the California Department of Fish and Game Jason Holley, “Fish and Game writes the permits to take certain animals, when appropriate. Then, USDA trappers or another agent of the permit holder does the actual ‘taking’ of said animal.”
On the morning after the goat was found dead, John Chandler, who is a warden with the USDA, came out with several dogs, tracked the four mountain lions and killed them.
“It took a couple of hours to track and kill them,” said Gerken.
The animals killed were a mother and her three cubs. The cubs were judged to be about 18 months old and weighed 50 to 70 pounds each.
Gerken said they had evidently been living in the area for a while judging by a nearby site he found with matted grass and the remains of a deer.
“I haven’t seen any mountain lions since the others were killed, although I have found bear droppings,” he said.
The goats were brought in by Gerken to help clear the underbrush on the property. He also has a donkey and hot wire fencing to help keep the mountain lions away.
Gerken said the adult mountain lion must have been trapped and relocated previously because she was tagged. “The game warden took the body of the adult lion away and left the bodies of the cubs behind on the property,” he said.
When asked why the mother and cubs weren’t relocated instead of killed, the Fish and Game supervisor said that relocating the animals might cause a disruption to animals already living in the new area. However that didn’t explain why the adult had previously been moved given that she was already tagged.
He also stated that “when a lion has caused actual and verifiable property damage (such as killing livestock), the law states that we must issue a depredation permit when requested.”
According to state law, mountain lions cannot be killed without a permit and permits are only issued under certain circumstances. The most current statistics kept by the California Department of Fish and Game show that there were 42 permitted kills in the state in 2009. Of those 42, two mountain lions were killed in El Dorado County.
In the meantime, Gerken is ready to protect his herd of goats. “If they stay away, I’ll leave them alone,” he said. “But I’m ready for them now. I bought a .270 (caliber rifle).”
Contact Dawn Hodson at 530-344-5071 or email@example.com. Follow @DHodsonMtDemo on Twitter.