An Old Mountain Lion Going Strong After a Decade

P-22 fitted with new GPS radio collar

By Chad Winthrop

Biologists have put a new GPS radio collar on P-22, one of the oldest cats to be born in the Santa Monica Mountains with a fascinating story.

According to the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, on February 12, 2021, National Park Service (NPS) biologists captured P-22 to change out his GPS radio collar, which had a battery that was due to fail soon.

“To continue tracking his movements daily, he needed a new collar,” the NPS said.

The NPS now reports he now weighs 123 lbs., which is similar to past capture weights, and he appears to be in good condition.

P-22 was first documented in early 2012 by a camera trap set as part of the Griffith Park Connectivity Study. Shortly after that, NPS biologists captured and outfitted him with a GPS radio collar in March of 2012. According to the NPS, P-22 has been living in Griffith Park since at least February 2012

“Back in the day, genetic testing revealed that P-22 was likely born in the Santa Monica Mountains. That means he would have had to cross both the 405 AND the 101 Freeways to reach Griffith Park! That’s an amazing feat unmatched by any other mountain lion (as far as we know),” the NPS said. “Our biologists say this cat is an especially fascinating animal to study. His safe passage into and life in the park is a testament to the wild spaces remaining in LA.”

According to the NPS, most adult male mountain lions require ranges of 150 square miles, but P-22’s habitat is akin to a tiny home: just nine square miles.

“P-22 is now more than 11 years old, which in the wild, is a very old cat! The oldest mountain lion that we have documented during our study was approximately 12 years old (that was P-1, his father). Interesting factoid: The oldest female mountain lion in our study is P-19, who is 10 years old. We are currently following her and her litter of kittens,” the NPS said.

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