California man facing criminal charges for fatal shooting of protected mountain lion

PHOTO: This undated photo provided by the U.S. National Park Service shows a mountain lion known as P-38, photographed in the Santa Monica Mountain range.PlayNational Park Service, via AP, FILE
WATCH News headlines today: Sept. 13, 2019

A California man is facing criminal charges for the killing of a protected mountain lion.

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Alfredo Gonzalez, 60, is accused of fatally shooting a collared mountain lion, known as P-38, back in July. The animal was found dead in the Simi Valley area with a gunshot wound to the head and its GPS-enabled radio collar vandalized, according to the Ventura County District Attorney's Office.

P-38 was part of a cougar population being studied by National Park Service biologists, the district attorney's office said. First collared in 2015, the 7-year-old male mountain lion predominately roamed parts of the Santa Susana Mountains, which surround Simi Valley in Southern California.

The biologists detected a mortality signal from the animal's collar on July 2, according to the district attorney's office.

PHOTO: This undated photo provided by the U.S. National Park Service shows a mountain lion known as P-38, photographed in the Santa Monica Mountain range. National Park Service, via AP, FILE
This undated photo provided by the U.S. National Park Service shows a mountain lion known as P-38, photographed in the Santa Monica Mountain range.

The National Park Service did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment Wednesday morning.

It's unlawful to kill a mountain lion in the state without a permit from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The complaint filed by the Ventura County District Attorney's Office charges Gonzalez with two misdemeanor counts -- one for the unlawful taking of a protected mammal and another for vandalism of National Park Service property, the collar, valued at $950.

Gonzalez, a Simi Valley resident, will be arraigned in Ventura Superior Court on Oct. 9.