Young Female Mountain Lion Discovered

Year-old cougar appears to be in good condition

By TJ Montemer

A young female mountain has been discovered by local biologists.

According to the National Parks Service, a young female mountain lion was recently captured by NPS biologists in the Simi Hills and has become the 96th cat to be included in the agency’s 18-year study. Biologists say the mountain lion, P-96, appeared to be in good condition and is estimated to be about a year-old.

A GPS radio collar was placed on her that will track her movements and provide researchers with valuable information on this small and isolated population living on the outskirts of Los Angeles.

On the day of her capture, Feb. 12, she weighed 59 lbs.

“As with all of our study animals, P-96 was given a full work-up, which includes taking morphological measurements, attaching an eartag, and collecting blood, hair, and tissue samples for genetic and disease analyses. DNA material collected might also provide a clue to her lineage,” the NPS said.

Currently, there are 11 radio-collared mountain lions being tracked by NPS scientists. Seven of these are in the Santa Monica Mountains, three in the Simi Hills and one in Griffith Park. The first capture took place in 2002. Since that time, the NPS has 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.

in News
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