What is a mountain lion?
Mountain lions are a species of wild cat found throughout the Americas. They are the largest wild cat in western North America and are found across California. The California Department of Fish and Game estimates the current mountain lion population in California to be between 4,000-6,000 mountain lion individuals (1). Although they look quite different from a bobcat (see 'Urban Carnivores' page), people often mistake bobcats for mountain lions. However, mountain lions are much larger than bobcats and are uniformly colored tawny or beige. There can be some variation in color throughout it's range, but in Southern California, our mountain lions are a yellowish beige color. Mountain lions have a long, black-tipped tail, and small head with round ears (unlike the bobcat's pointed ears with tufts of hair). Although young mountain lions have distinctive spots (until nearly 1 year of age), if you see a spotted cat roaming around, it is more likely a bobcat rather than a mountain lion!
If you live in areas that are mountain lion habitat or utilize natural areas in the Santa Monica Mountains for recreation, you should act accordingly! Simply because you don't see the mountain lions doesn't mean they aren't there. Reported sightings of mountain lions does not imply increased danger in a given area. For safety tips, please visit the Mountain Lion Foundation website.
Geographic distribution of the mountain lion
The mountain lion ranges from northern Canada south to the southern tip of South America, though the wild cat is extinct or very rare over much of its former range. Mountain lions have been given a diverse array of common names including mountain lion, puma, cougar, catamount, painter and panther (2). This wide variety of names attests to their historically wide geographic distribution throughout the Americas (3). In fact, the mountain lion, even in its present day geographic distribution, has the largest geographic distribution of any wild cat in the world! However, mountain lions were once distributed across the entirety of the United States. Due to human persecution and hunting, mountain lions are now found almost exclusively west of the Mississippi River, except for threatened populations of Florida Panthers. They seem to be rebounding and expanding their range once again.
Are there mountain lions around Los Angeles?
The answer is YES! People (even those people that can call the parkland their backyard) are frequently surprised to discover that mountain lions live in the Santa Monica Mountains that extend west from Ventura and east into Los Angeles- all the way to Griffith Park where the Hollywood sing is! Mountain lions have been captured by the National Park Service in the Simi Valley (Cheeseboro/Palo Comado) and Santa Susanas, and areas south of the 101-freeway between the I-405 and Camarillo Springs (Point Mugu SP, Malibu Creek SP, and Topanga SP). Mountain lions are well known to utilize these areas. However, only one mountain lion has been documented east of the I-405. A young male, P22, was captured in Griffith Park in March 2012, and he is the first documented case in Griffith Park.
The Griffith Park mountain lion – an amazing story!
P22 is a mountain lion humanely caught in Griffith Park on March 28, 2012 and radio-collared by National Park Service biologists. The video (captured by L.A. City Ranger Adam Dedeaux) above shows P22 moving through Griffith Park with LA city lights behind him. Griffith Park is a patch of habitat near downtown Los Angeles and is too small to support a resident mountain lion population. Therefore, P22 taking up residence in this part of Los Angeles is very unusual and exciting, and since he is the only mountain lion in the Griffith Park biologists have many questions about his life in the small, very urban park. The first evidence of this mountain lion was recorded on remote cameras as part of the Griffith Park Connectivity study (performed by USGS and Cooper Ecological biologists – read more about the discovery here). Once photographic evidence was found of this male mountain lion, the National Park Service set traps near Lake Hollywood and captured him. He weighed approximately 120 pounds and was estimated to be 3 years old. Genetic testing performed in the Robert Wayne Lab at UCLA shows that he is genetically related to mountain lions from the Santa Monica Mountains. Therefore, he probably crossed two freeways (the 405 and 101) to get to Griffith Park! That means he likely originated in the Topanga State Park area, crossed the I-405 into Bel Air and Beverly Hills and traveled east to cross the 101-freeway into Griffith Park. He is radio-collared and the National Park Service is tracking his movements to see where he heads next! As of August 2013, he is still in Griffith Park. National Park Service biologists have determined he is feeding primarily on a diet of mule deer, is not recorded to have killed any domestic animals, and is largely unseen by people that visit Griffith Park.
Mountain lions are strict, but generalist, carnivores. This means that they eat other animals that they hunt themselves, but are opportunistic in the animals they will hunt. However, mountain lions may have a strong preference for certain prey items depending on where they live. For instance, in the Santa Monica Mountains, 94% of the mountain lion diet consists of mule deer. These data were gathered by examining 390 kill sites in the Santa Monica Mountains made by 15 mountain lions. To find the kill sites, biologists rely on the radio-telemetry data gathered by the mountain lion's radio-collars. The radio-collars collect GPS data at specified intervals. If a mountain lion stays at a single spot feeding on a deer for several nights, when biologists examine the information collected by the radiocollar on the mountain lion, they will find clusters of points on consecutive days. Once a cluster of points is identified, biologists physically go to the location on the map and search for the mountain lion kill. This often occurs weeks or months after the lion has consumed what it kills and does not interfere with the behavior of the mountain lion. If the kill site is relatively fresh, biologists might find uneaten parts of the deer, such as bones and intestines, still cached. Even for kill sites that are a year old, biologists can often find bones remaining from the kill and identify the species on which the mountain lion fed.
A preference for mule deer is not surprising given that it is the largest prey item available for mountain lions locally. Energetically, they want to be "economic" in their prey item choices. Hunting is very energetically expensive for an animal and there is a high failure rate. So, they will generally hunt things that will have a big pay off for them calorie-wise and that may even sustain them for several days. So, mountain lions will fare better in killing large prey items that can sustain them for several days. Depending on the size of deer that a mountain lion successfully kills and the time of year, the mountain lion can feed on the deer for several days. They tend to feed on their kills at night, eating soft organs first, such as the liver and the heart. Once the mountain lion is done feeding for the night, it will 'cache' the kill, covering it up with dirt, leaves and brush, conceaing the deer from scavengers. For several nights, the mountain lion will return to it's kill to feed on it staying in the general region of the kill during the day to rest.
Locally, mountain lions have been known to kill other animals native to the Santa Monica Mountains such as coyotes, raccoons, and badgers. They likely do not feed on these prey for multiple nights since these animals are smaller and can be quickly consumed by a carnivore the size of a mountain lion. NPS biologists have never documented a mountain lion to kill domestic dogs or domestic cats in the study area though biologists frequently recieve complaints that this has occurred. Local mountain lion biologists have investigated many of these complaints never finding valid evidence that mountain lions have been responsible for someone's missing pet. Further, of the 390 kill sites investigated, all animals killed by the mountain lions were found to be animals native to the study area and the natural prey items of mountain lions. Attacks on people's pets are more likely perpetrated by coyotes, owls, or other predatory species.
Below is a video filmed in the Santa Monica Mountain study area using a remote camera set on a mountain lion kill. The camera filmed in 30-second increments and shows the mountain lion is coming back to a deer that it has killed on a previous night. The mountain lion has cached it- or covered it with leaves and dirt so as to hide it from potential scavengers. The mountain lion comes back for another night to feed on it, then re-caches the kill to save it for later. Watch this video to learn about Santa Monica Mountains mountain lion feeding behavior!
Information About Radio-collared Mountain Lions in the Santa Monica Mountains
P01 was the first mountain lion caught in the Santa Monica Mountains! He was caught 5 times between 2002 and 2006. He was one impressive animal! He used almost the entirety of the Santa Monica Mountains south of the 101-freeway and between Topanga State Park and Camarillo as his home range (see map). This size of home range area is not unusual for an adult male mountain lion. He was known to mated and have kittens with at least 2 females, P02 and P06. If you read about P6, you will notice that she is the daughter of P01. In an area like the Santa Monica Mountains with the 101-freeway creating a formidable barrier to movement for animals, it is not unusual that inbreeding would occur for such large carnivores with low population densities.
The last time P01 was captured was in July, 2006 in Trancas Canyon area. His radio-collar prematurely failed shortly after that capture. We do not believe that he is still alive. He would be very old, and we have radio-collared other males since 2006 that use the home range we knew P01 to previously occupy.
Click here to see one month's worth of movements for P1 in 2007. These movements illustrate the value of the radio-collars we place on the animals to learn how they move across the landscape.
P02 was the second mountain that was captured in the Santa MonicaMountains. Like P01, she was captured south of the 101-freeway. She mated with P01 at least once, and had at least one litter with him. The kittens born of her litter with P01 were numbered P05-P08 (see below for more information). National Park Service biologists were able to find P02's den after she had those kittens, P05-P08. Biologists, along with wild animal veterinarian Lynn Whited, D.V.M., were able to outfit each kitten with radio-transmitter. Biologists were then able to then track P02 and her 4 kittens to learn about P02's movements while her kittens were young, along with learn about the movement patterns and dispersal of each kitten. One thing that we were able to observe using this method is that when the kittens were approximately 11 months old, P02 expanded her range substantially (see map above).
Once the kittens were old enough to move with their mother, NPS biologists found them moving together. In other words, when biologists remotely located P02 relying on her radio-collar signal, they were able to find the radio-signals of each kitten in the same area. NPS biologists believe that P02's range expanded when the kittens were around 11 months old because P02 was presumably showing her kittens new areas before they were old enough to disperse and establish their own new territories. More recently, biologists observed the same movement patterns for another female with 11-month old kittens, P13.
When P02's kittens were approximately 1-year old, P01 killed P02. This type of aggression between mountain lions is not uncommon in our region and happens to be the number one source of mortality for mountain lions in Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. NPS biologists are unsure what instigated the aggressive encounter between P01 and P02. Several explanations could include that he (P01) was interested in a kill (deer) she (P02) made, that he wanted to mate with her again, or perhaps he viewed the kittens as competition and she was defending the kittens against him. The kittens were still under mom's (P02) tutelage, and so their fate was questioned (see below for more information about what happened to these kittens).
P03 was the first of 4 mountain lions have been captured north of the 101-freeway for the ongoing National Park Service mountain lion research. This mountain lion routinely used the Simi Valley and parts of the Santa Susanas for his home range, regularly crossing the 118 and 23 freeways. Unfortunately, this lion died directly of anticoagulant rat poison toxicity, not surprising given how much urban development exists in the Simi Valley area. Biologists are unsure of how mountain lions are being exposed to anticoagulant rat poisons since they are unlikely to consume large numbers of small mammals like our other smaller carnivores (bobcats and coyotes, for example). However, it is possible that this mountain lion was poisoned from eating a coyote that was secondarily poisoned, or that deer, the mountain lion's primary food source in the Santa Monica's, are directly eating poison baits and then poisoning the mountain lions.
P04 was another mountain lion captured north of the 101 that used the Simi Valley and Santa Susanas. P04 was a female that routinely used the Santa Susanas. And like P03, this mountain lion was one of two mountain lions that died directly of anticoagulant rat poison toxicity .
These were kittens born to P02 after mating with P01. Female mountain lions will care for their young until after the young are 1-year old. Typically, between 1-2 years old, the young will separate from the mother and seek their own territory. For males, it can take more than a year for them to establish what will be their 'home range.' When these kittens were nearly 1-year old, P01 killed P02. All four kittens managed to survive P02's death and disperse into different regions of the Santa Monica Mountains, establishing their own home ranges. See below for more information on each kitten's fate after P02 was killed.
P05 was initially sampled and outfitted with a radio-transmitter as a month-old kitten. P05 was one of two males in a litter of kittens, parented by P01 (father) and P02 (mother). After P02 was killed by P01 (see above for more information), P05 dispersed to the western end of the Santa Monica Mountains around Point Mugu State Park. P05 was later recaptured and placed with a radiocollar. He was eventually killed by P01.
P06 was intially sampled and outfitted with a radio-transmitter as a month-old kitten. P06 was one of two females in a litter of kittens, parented by P01 (father) and P02 (mother). P06 dispersed to the western end of the Santa Monica Mountains after P02 was killed. She was later recaptured and fitted with a radio-collar. Unfortunately, the radiocollar stopped working prematurely and biologists were unable to recapture her to fit her with a new radiocollar. NPS biologists are unsure whether she still raoms the Santa Monicas. She is known to have mated with P01, producing a litter of kittens that included P13. Genetic analysis to prove maternity and paternity was conducted in the Robert Wayne Lab at UCLA.
P07 spent time in the western end of the Santa Monicas between Point Mugu State Park and Malibu Creek State Park. P07 was initially sampled and outfitted with a radio-transmitter as a month-old kitten. P07 was one of two females in a litter of kittens, parented by P01 (father) and P02 (mother). P07 used the western end of the Santa Monicas, including Malibu Creek State Park. She was eventually killed by P01 near the Planet of the Apes rock wall in Malibu Creek State Park, a fight witnessed by local rock climbers! NPS biologists are unsure what instigated the aggressive encounter between P01 and P07, but they possibly fought over a kill (a deer that P07 killed to eat), or potentially because P01 was interested in mating with her.
P08 was intially sampled and outfitted with a radio-transmitter as a month-old kitten. P08 was one of two males in a litter of kittens, parented by P01 (father) and P02 (mother). P08 preferred the eastern end of the Santa Monica Mountains and was frequently located in Topanga State Park and around Tuna Canyon. P08 took after his father- he was the largest of the litter and seemed to be the toughest individual. Biologists thought he would survive to adulthood. However, P08 was eventually killed by what was then an unknown, uncollared mountain lion. It was from P08's death, in fact, that we learned that another strong male mountain lion was in the eastern end of the Santa Monicas! NPS biologists then set traps and caught P09, P08's killer.
P09 was a male mountain lion that lived in the eastern end of the Santa Moinca Mountains around Topanga State Park and Tuna Canyon. His presence was discovered when he killed P08. Genetic testing from wounds found on P08 confirmed that P08 was killed by an uncollared, male mountain lion. He was captured in Topanga State Park near Eagle Rock outlook. He was radiocollared and tracked for a very short time. He was hit and killed by a car on Las Virgenes during morning rush hour traffic.
P10 was a young male when he was caught in February, 2010, in the western end of the Santa Monica Mountains near the north entrance to Point Mugu State Park. His primary homerange area consisted of the central and western end of the Santa Monica Mountains around Malibu Creek and Point Mugu State Parks. He died in July 2010, and two months prior to his death, fought with another male, P15.
NPS biologists were able to document this encounter between the mountain lions because their radiocollars recorded GPS data that showed that P10 and P15 were in the same location at the same time. Both males survived the fight. Biologists do not believe that P10 sustained life-threatening injuries that precipitated his death two months later. His body was recovered in a timely matter after his death though by time he was found (by honing in on a mortality signal emmitted by his radio-collar), his body was too decomposed to diagnose his cause of death.
P10 was captured more than once as part of this study, once under remarkable circumstances in Pacific Palisades in the front yard of a residence. He was found lying in a bush in front of a residence early one morning. He was likely exploring the residential area during the evening hours when he would be unseen by humans, and perhaps was stuck there when the sun rose. He hid in a bush in the front yard of a residence as he was making his way back to open space, and was too frightened to move from the bush during the daylight hours. The National Park Service was called and biologists were able to dart the mountain lion, collar him, and relocate him to nearby open space. The story was published in the Palisadian-Post and the remarkable incident illustrates the manner in which young, subadult males learn the boundaries of their territories. Through the mountain lion research, NPS biologists have learned that mountain lions are periodically located in urban areas that border parkland. These urban location data points are more typical for young, subadult males. These young males learn the boundaries to their territories when they "bump" into them. When caught in an urban region, these young males do not linger but prefer to move back into the natural parkland areas.
P11 was caught a few days after P10 in the western end of the Santa Monica Mountains off of Mulholland in February 2008. His collared failed prematurely in November 2008. Since then, nothing is known about him. He was probably killed by another mountain lion either after his collar failed, or perhaps the event even caused his radiocollar to fail.
P12 is a male mountian lion caught in Palo Comado Canyon in 2008. He is an interesting individual in that he is the first mountain lion that we have documented to cross the 101-freeway! After crossing the 101-freeway, he has remained on the south of the freeway in the Santa Monica Mountains. He primarily stays in the central region of the Santa Monicas, using Malibu Creek State Park and Trancas Canyon areas. He is known to have mated with P13, fathering two litters of kittens (P17-P19 & P25-P26) with her. He has also mated with his daughter, P19, to produce kittens P23 and P24. This is the second instance of first-order inbreeding that has been observed in Santa Monica Mountains mountain lions.
P13 was a young female when she was captured near the north end of Point Mugu State Park in 2008. Her age was estimated to be between 1.5 and 2 years of age when she was captured. She still roams the mountains, and has had at least two litters of kittens in 2010 and 2012. Both litters of her kittens, through genetic analysis, were shown to be fathered by P12. Her home range is the western end of the Santa Monica Mountains, from Malibu Creek State Park to Point Mugu State Park. Her latest litter of kittens are approximately 1 year of age now. Although her kittens are approaching the age of dispersal for young adults, she is still moving with them. NPS biologists think that at this stage of development for her kittens, she has expanded her home range to show her kittens potential territories for them before they disperse on their own. Her radio-collar has failed prematurely, so we are hoping to capture her again soon so as to replace her radio-collar. Read here for an LA Times article about her.
In February, 2012, NPS biologists found evidence that P13 has another litter of kittens. She has two kittens that have been spotted on remote cameras placed in the Santa Monica Mountains. Check out the video below to see one of the kittens feeding on a deer carcass.
P14 was a young male captured initially in 2009. His home range was primarily the eastern end of the Santa Monica Mountains around Topanga State Park and Tuna Canyon. He was captured twice, first in August, 2009 and a second time in February, 2011. He was killed in April, 2011 by an uncollared male mountain lion that lives in the eastern end of the Santa Monica Mountains. National Park Service biologists recovered liver tissue from his body and had it tested for anticoagulant rat poisons. Results of these tests indicate exposure to multiple anticoagulant rat poison compounds including brodifacoum, bromadiolone, difethialone, and diphacinone. Given that he was exposed to four different compounds suggests that P14 was exposed to these poisons multiple times.
P15 is a male mountain lion first captured in February, 2010. P15's home range is around the western region of the Santa Monica Mountains, such as Point Mugu State Park. P15 is known to have had a fight with P10, though neither suffered severe injuries as a result of the encounter. P15 has been captured 4 times because his radio-collars have prematurely failed several times. So, in order to maintain our ability to monitor his movements, we have recaptured him in order to place new radio-collars on him.
P15 Research News: Poached Mountain Lion Body Discovered (September, 2011): Since the mountain lion study began in 2002 in the Santa Monicas, this is our first known mortality due to poaching. P15 was killed and mutlitated by a private citizen, destroying his radio-collar in the process. The details of his mutilation have been withheld in the case that California Department of Fish and Game may be able to recieve tips on the individual that killed P15 that will lead to an arrest. Mountain lions are a protected species in California, and harvesting individuals without a depredation permit issued by the State is illegal.
We were able to confirm P15's identity through genetic testing to determine that he was, indeed, one of our study animals. His radio-collar had been removed and destroyed. We are hoping that people will come forward with information. A reward of $11,700 is available for useful information. The hotline number to report information is (888) 334-2258. Click here to read more about it.
P16 was a subadult male when he was captured in May 2010. Mountain lions are considered 'subadult' when they are approximately 1.5-3 years old, and haven't yet mated with another mountain lion. P16's home range is the far southeastern region of the Santa Susanas. He is our third mountain lion to capture in the Santa Susana Mountains.
P17-P19 are the kittens of female, P13, and male, P12. They were born in April, 2010. National Park Service biologists, along with veterinarian Lynn Whited, were able to find P13's den site when the kittens were approximately 1-month old. They approached the den when P13 was away from the den hunting, and they sampled the kittens and outfitted each with a radio-transmitter. Since the kittens have radio-transmitters, biologists are able to track their movements and learn about their development and age, whether they survive to adulthood, and their dispersal patterns.
P17 died when she was approximately 3-months old. Her body was recovered and a necropsy performed. Her cause of death was starvation, and she was also exposed to anticoagulant rat poisons. She is our youngest mountain lion that we have documented to be exposed to rat poisons. We do not think this exposure was linked to her death, however. She did not appear to have other injuries that would have prevented her from eating food that her mother, P13, brought her. One possible explanation for her death is that P13 is likely a first-time mother and was unable to care for 3 kittens simultaneously. Or perhaps, the other kittens were stronger and able to keep up with their mother better.
On April 13th, 2011, National Park Service biologists humanely recaptured two of the mountain lion kittens originally tagged last year in 2010. These kittens were the surviving P18 and P19. The hope was that these two cats would have grown enough to put radio-collars on them so that we can track them, continuing to monitor their development and behavior into adulthood. At just 11 months old, these two young mountain lions were too young to place radio-collars on, since they appeared to be at a stage of development with rapid growth. So, we didn't want to risk them out-growing their radio-collars before we could replace them. The good news was that they were healthy, and in seeing them again, we learned a little more about the pace of development for mountain lions.
P18 was recaptured on August 1, 2011. He is one of two surviving mountain lion kittens born last April. This is his third capture since May, 2010 and his first capture where he is old enough to fit with a radio-collar with GPS capabilities. He was caught at the east end of Malibu Creek State Park, weighed approximately 100 pounds and has successfully killed at least one adult deer. Deer are the main prey items of local mountain lions. Both P18 and P19 (his sister) have recently seperated from their mother and so are learning to hunt and move on their own.
P18's Attempted Dispersal and Death: P18 was from a litter of 3 kittens born to female P13 in May 2010. In mid-June 2011, P18 dispersed from his mother’s home range in the Malibu Creek State Park area and began slowly making his way east through the mountains. He was captured in early August and fitted with a GPS-capable radiocollar. Within several months, he made his way east to Topanga State Park area. Likely in an effort to find a territory of his own, free of other males, he tried to cross the I-405 where he was hit by a car near the Getty Center.
We originally started following his father, P12, with GPS-telemetry in the Simi Hills on the north side of the 101-freeway in December 2008. In early 2009, P12 crossed the 101-freeway in the Liberty Canyon area and has remained in the Santa Monica Mountains since. He is the only radiocollared lion we have followed in our 10 year study that has successfully crossed either of the major freeways (101-freeway or I-405) surrounding the Santa Monica Mountains. We have followed 22 animals over this time with GPS and radio-telemetry and have never documented a radiocollared mountain lion successfully crossing the I-405. We have no verified records of them on the east side of the I-405 within the Santa Monica Mountains between the I-405 and Griffith Park.
Mountain lions, like other large carnivores, are a wide ranging species and required large areas of open space to persist. We have learned through our studies that mountain lions will only persist in the Santa Monica Mountains if connectivity remains between the Mountains and other large areas of open space such as the Santa Susana Mountains and ultimately the Los Padres national forest. In the Santa Monica Mountains we have observed male mountain lions using the entire mountain range as their individual home range from the I-405 to Camarillo. Male lions are extremely territorial and may fight to the death to defend their territory from other male lions. There are at least 2 adult male lions in the mountains that we are currently following with GPS-telemetry, P18’s father P12 and P15. We also have photographs of another potential male using the eastern end of the mountains. P18 was likely trying to avoid these adult males and disperse into an open territory.
January 2012: P19 was recaptured in January, 2012. She is the only surviving mountain lion from the litter of kittens born to P13, and fathered by P12. P19 recaptured! January 25, 2012: At 1:30am, P19 was recaptured in a cage trap set south of Westlake in protected park land. At just over a year and half in age, she is undergoing her final growth spurt. She was fitted with a radiocollar last fall, so biologists wanted to check that she wasn't quickly outgrowing the old radiocollar. Because of her growth spurt, they decided to change her radiocollar, and she is not expected to grow much more, so will be able to keep this collar for a while. The collars have limited battery lives, so that will likely dictate when we need to next change her collar. She weighed 77pounds (35kg), and we were able to set a cage trap using a young deer she'd killed the night before as bait. She appeared healthy and we collected blood samples for disease surveys and hopefully anticoagulant rat poison exposure surveys (funding pending)!
September 2012: P19 produced a litter of kittens, fathered by her father, P12. This is the second case of first-order inbreeding documented in the Santa Monica mountain lion population. The kittens, P23 and P24, show no obvious signs of health consequences associated with inbreeding.
P20 was a young male mountain lion captured in Malibu Creek State Park in October, 2010. He was an unexpected capture, and in fact, biologists were hoping instead to recapture P15! P20 was tracked for only a very short period of time before he was killed by an uncollared male in the eastern end of the Santa Monica Mountains (near Topanga). The uncollared male mountain lion that killed P14 also killed P14.
P21 was caught May 4, 2011 in the Santa Susana Mountains as part of ongoing National Park research on local mountain lion populations extending from the Santa Monica Mountains north to the southern end of the Santa Susana Mountains The National Park Service has captured and radiocollared 4 mountain lions in the Santa Susana mountains since 2002. P21, an adult male, was estimated to be approximately 6-years old and looked to be in excellent health. He had a wound on his chin that biologists guessed he sustained while hunting a male deer with antlers that could have inflicted the wound. Biologists administered antiseptic and antibiotics to aid in the mountain lion's healing from the injury.
P22, a new male mountain lion, was humanely caught in Griffith Park on March 28, 2012 and radiocollared by the National Park Service. The first evidence of this mountain lion was recorded on remote cameras as part of the Griffith Park Connectivity study being performed by USGS and Cooper Ecological biologists. Once photographic evidence was found of this male mountain lion, the National Park Service set traps near Lake Hollywood and captured him. He weighed approximately 120 pounds and is estimated to be 3 years old. Genetic testing performed in the Robert Wayne Lab at UCLA shows that he is originally from the Santa Monica Mountains! Griffith Park, a patch of habitat near downtown Los Angeles, is too small to support a resident mountain lion population. P22 had to "immigrate" from either the Santa Monicas, Santa Susanas, or San Gabriel Mountains. Genetic testing confirmed that he crossed two freeways (the 405 and 101) to get to Griffith Park. He is radiocollared and the National Park Service is tracking his movements to see where he heads next! As of July 2013, he is still in Griffith Park.
P23 and P24 are some of the newest additions to the Santa Monica Mountain lion population. In Spring 2012, they were born to parents P19 (mom) and P12 (dad). P19 is the sole caretaker of these young mountain lions. Read the NPS press release below to learn more about these kittens.
News Release (8/2/10):
National Park Service Welcomes Birth of Mountain Lion Kittens
News is tempered by further evidence of inbreeding
THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. Biologists from the National Park Service recentlydiscovered two mountain lion kittens in the Santa Monica Mountains. The female and male kittens were outfitted with tracking devices after researchers located their den east of Circle X Ranch in Malibu.
"The fact that successful reproduction is occurring in the mountainsindicates that we have high-quality habitat for mountains lions here," said Dr. Seth Riley, a wildlife expert with the National Park Service. "Unfortunately, the amount of habitat is not sufficient to support a viable population long-term, and when new animals like these are born, especially young males, they run into freeways and development when they try to disperse."
Named Puma 23 and 24, or P23 and P24 for short, the kittens were born in mid-June. Although the birth of kittens is a hopeful sign for a region with a relatively small mountain lion population, the kittens are the second documented case of first-order inbreeding in which a father lion mates with his female offspring.
The kittens' mother is P19, who was captured a few months ago and appearedto be pregnant. Researchers subsequently documented denning behavior and sent a team to search for the kittens while the mother was away from the area. DNA testing from the Robert Wayne Lab at UCLA indicates that the father of the kittens is P12, who is also the father of P19. P12 is the only radio-collared mountain lion documented to successfully cross the 101 Freeway, thereby contributing new genetic material to the isolated lion population in the Santa Monica Mountains.
Biologists from Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, a unit ofthe National Park Service, are now tracking seven mountain lions as part of a decade-long study to better understand how the animals survive in such an urbanized landscape. With the addition of the two kittens, the agency has studied a total of 24 mountain lions. This is the third litter of kittens documented during the study.
Although the habitat in the Santa Monica Mountains is robust and suitablefor hunting and reproduction, the kittens will face many challenges to survive. The limited amount of connectivity between remaining natural areas and the lack of effective wildlife crossings can lead to deadly conflicts over territory and road mortalities.
P25 - P26
A wildlife remote camera picture of P25 and P26 in February 2012 around the time that NPS biologists first discovered that P13 had a new litter of kittens. These two mountain lions were captured on August 2, 2012, south of Westlake in the Santa Monica Mountains. As of August 2, they were both around 9 months old and are the offspring of female mountain lion, P13. P25 is female while P26 is male. Genetic analysis to determine which male mountain lion is the father of P25 and P26 is pending at the Robert Wayne lab at UCLA. National Park Service biologists first learned about these to young mountain lions using remote wildlife cameras set around the Santa Monica Mountains to monitor wildlife. P13, one of the radio-collared female mountain lions in the Santa Monica Mountains, was captured on camera with 2 kittens last February! Now, at 9 months of age, the two young mountain lions were old enough to radio-collar, and are now being tracked by National Park Service biologists. At the time of their capture in August, they weren't yet completely independent of their mom, P13. However, they are approaching the age of dispersal (approximately 1.5 years) to establish their own homeranges. Now, with their new radio-collars, NPS biologists will be able to follow their movements and learn when and where they try to establish their own territories.