1.5-year-old male mountain lion found in central Santa Monica Mountains
By Chad Winthrop
Santa Monica Mountains biologists have discovered a young mountain lion and spotted another.
According to the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, biologists captured the young male mountain lion on January 16. The animal, named P-95, was in the central Santa Monica Mountains when captured and in good condition. He is estimated to be about a year and a half old and weighed 90 pounds when capture.
P-95 received a full welfare check with National Park Service (NPS) officials collecting blood, tissue and other samples before being released.
“His overall health was assessed – from the bottom of his paws to the teeth in his head. A GPS radio-collar was also placed on him,” the NPS said.
Officials say that P-95 was not traveling along when captured.
“While biologists were conducting the welfare check, “chirping” was heard nearby and another cat was later spotted. Biologists believe P-95 is likely still traveling with a sibling or its mother,” the NPS said.
Currently, there are 10 radio-collared mountain lions being tracked by NPS scientists. Seven of these are in the Santa Monica Mountains, two in the Simi Hills and one in Griffith Park. The first capture took place in 2002. Since that time, the NPS have been studying mountain lions in and around the Santa Monica Mountains to determine how they survive in a fragmented and urbanized environment.
Southern California’s extensive freeway network presents a major barrier for wildlife, which is particularly a concern for the mountain lion population largely isolated in the Santa Monica Mountains. Planning and fundraising for a wildlife crossing over the 101 Freeway in the Liberty Canyon area of Agoura Hills is in progress. The bridge would provide a connection between the small population of lions in the Santa Monica Mountains and the large and genetically diverse populations to the north.
Another issue facing these cats is poison. Since the National Park Service launched its study of mountain lions in the Santa Monica Mountains 17 years ago, over five lions have died from rat poison.
Several other lions have been diagnosed with mange, which many researchers believe is linked to rat poisons, though they are unsure of the exact nature of the connection. Some think that the rat poisons weaken the animals’ immune system, making the cats more susceptible to mange.