Mountain lion enters Santa Rosa home, drags dog, kills goats before being put down

The mountain lion was identified as P1, which had been collared and tracked since 2016. Officials say she killed three goats and dragged a dog at the Bennett Valley home.|

For nearly four hours Nov. 28, Rebecca Kracker was trapped inside her Bennett Valley home as a collared mountain lion lurked outside.

She was able to rescue her 12-year-old border collie, Sherman, after the mountain lion dragged him out of the house. A neighbor fired a gun to scare off the animal but it didn’t go far. It was spotted on Kracker’s property two more times that night.

The encounter began a series of events that spanned a week. Animal agencies were called in to investigate and a Sonoma County trapper eventually killed it in an act experts said was appropriate due to the animal’s abnormal behavior.

Local animal experts collared the mountain lion six years ago and had been tracking its movement ever since.

Kracker, 29, said officials should have known the mountain lion posed a threat.

“Yes, we’re living with them. But if they still continue to be a danger to the community, there needs to be a quicker response than, ‘Oh, stay inside’ and, ‘Don’t be upset by the fact we can’t do anything about it,’” Kracker said.

The mountain lion, designated as P1, was collared in 2016 when Audubon Canyon Ranch and True Wild, organizations focusing on environmental conservation and wildlife, respectively, launched the Living with Lions research project to track regional mountain lions and study their behavior.

Its officials said they are only responsible for studying collared mountain lions, but live data isn’t available as all movement is based on information collected hours prior. Any unusual behavior is reported to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, which manages the protected species’ population.

Fish and Wildlife spokesperson Ken Paglia said his agency received information on P1 leading up to the Nov. 28 incident, but there was no indication officials immediately needed to respond and euthanize the creature.

P1 was described as a 15- or 16-year-old that had birthed three litters of kittens over the years with her mate, P5. She was among nine mountain lions being tracked by Living with Lions. As of 2021, she weighed just under 85 pounds and her fangs were deteriorated compared to those of a younger male.

“Clearly, something was wrong with P1. She was very old for a mountain lion which may have led to issues related to aging including tooth wear, slowed responses, weakened senses and possibly other health issues,” Dr. Quinton Martins, Living with Lions’ principal investigator, said in a statement.

“In recent weeks, she was more willing to put herself near human activity with people having frequent sightings of her, as well as feeding almost exclusively on livestock, all of which is very unusual behavior.”

A dog dragged, goats killed

Kracker raises dairy goats on a ranch off Grange Road and a 9-month-old buck was discovered dead Nov. 26. She surmised the killing involved mountain lions, which were known to populate the rural area south of Santa Rosa.

Around 6 p.m. Nov. 28, Kracker was watching television with her two other dogs when she heard a yelp from Sherman, her border collie.

P1 had entered the home through an opened sliding door and snagged Sherman, who lay a foot away. Kracker found him struggling to escape the lion’s grasp as they sat at the foot of a three-step staircase leading to the backyard.

“When I saw (Sherman), it looked like he was convulsing,” Kracker said. “I thought he was dead based on his lack of motion. He was outside so long.”

She estimated P1 was only slightly smaller than her 100-pound Germanshepherd, Stella.

Kracker shut the door and spent about 15 minutes filming the site, calling friends and animal officials for help and watching P1 hover above Sherman before the neighbor scared her off.

Around 8:30 p.m., Kracker spotted P1 sitting on the other side of a fence 20 feet to the right of the sliding door. Family members came over to help and saw P1 near the driveway when they left around 9:45 p.m.

Kracker suspects P1 was waiting for an opportunity to find food.

Animal officials showed up the day after the attack and Kracker secured a depredation permit — legal documents that allow property owners to address predators via lethal or non-lethal means — from Fish and Wildlife. She worked with a Sonoma County tracker to find the mountain lion.

On Dec. 3, the tracker killed P1 in Kracker’s barn after two more goats were killed. Bright lights and radio noise had failed to scare P1 away.

Kracker shared her experience in lengthy Facebook posts where she publicly lamented a perceived delayed response in handling P1.

I have been keeping this quiet for a while now after a threat to revoke the eventual permit. It is time to share my...

Posted by Rebecca Kracker on Sunday, December 4, 2022

“I shudder to think what could have happened in our community if she hadn’t been killed last night. There needs to be a change in how issues such as this are handled,” Kracker wrote.

Paglia said Fish and Wildlife is investigating the mountain lion and will perform a necropsy on the animal.

According to Living with Lions officials, P1’s abnormal behavior had been ongoing for at least a matter of weeks.

Local residents reported she consumed their livestock, which is unusual since mountain lions mostly eat deer. P1 was also recently documented sharing a meal with another lion and spotted along Highway 12, according to Living with Lions.

Living with Lions forwarded the information to Fish and Wildlife.

“They did exactly what they were supposed to do,” Paglia said.

Mountain lion population

Kracker said she contacted animal officials the night of the attack but resolutions were delayed and she was reluctant to venture outside after dark for a week.

She said delays in processing a depredation permit led to a full day of inactivity and Fish and Wildlife threatened to revoke the permit if she publicly discussed the mountain lion.

Paglia said it’s unlikely a threat was made and a misunderstanding may have occurred. Any delay in issuing Kracker’s permit may have been related to his agency’s due diligence.

“From our perspective, we are trying to do that balance of doing our due diligence and being respectful of her situation,” Paglia said.

Property owners can apply for lethal depredation permits if a mountain lion causes property damage. Since 2017, Fish and Wildlife issued 28 permits in Sonoma County and 10 mountain lions were killed, according to agency data.

Fish and Wildlife will immediately respond and attempt to put down a mountain lion if there’s a threat to public safety, Paglia said.

“All options are on the table, including killing the mountain lion,” he said.

He referenced a February 2020 incident involving a mountain lion that bit the leg of a 6-year-old girl in Santa Clara County. Officials found and euthanized the suspected animal, which was between the ages of 2 and 4.

Fish and Wildlife’s most recent data, from 1996, shows there are 4,000 to 6,000 mountain lions statewide and 22 humans have been attacked in the state since 1986. The most recent fatal attack was in January 2004 in Orange County.

“It’s 100% fair to say mountain lion attacks on humans are rare,” Paglia said. “For mountain lions, humans are not on the menu.”

You can reach Staff Writer Colin Atagi at On Twitter @colin_atagi

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