(LOS ANGELES TIMES) -- The Tejon Ranch has agreed to pay $136,500 in fines and restitution for illegally killing at least 11 mountain lions to prevent them from competing for game with high-paying trophy hunters, the Kern County district attorney's office announced Friday.
The settlement capped a 10-month investigation by the California Department of Fish and Game into claims made by a former Tejon Ranch Corp. hunting guide who said he was fired after he complained about the illegal killing of the wild predators.
In a lawsuit filed in May, whistle-blower Bron Sanders said ranch managers were angry about a 1990 law that made hunting mountain lions without a special permit illegal in California. He said managers blamed mountain lions for killing deer, elk, wild pigs and other animals on the 270,000-acre ranch, the largest chunk of privately owned wilderness remaining in Southern California. Hunting generates up to $2 million a year in revenue for the company, with hunters paying up to $20,000 to shoot elk.
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