A mountain lion who was captured at Griffith Park in Los Angeles in March has been fitted with a GPS tracking collar and released into the wild.
Griffith Park is known for its incredible hiking and view of the Hollywood Sign, not mountain lions.
Mountain lions are solitary creatures. The National Park Service has been tracking 21 cats in the Santa Monica Mountains for 10 years, but they have yet to confirm a finding in Griffith Park during that time.
“In the 10 years that we’ve been doing a study in the Santa Monica Mountains, we have not had any confirmed sightings in Griffith Park,” Sikich said. “Even us researchers have only seen them a handful of times.”
So, how and why did the cat end up in Griffith Park?
“That’s the million-dollar question,” he added.
NBC News reported the puma was captured in Griffith Park on March 28, and subsequently released after being fitted with a GPS tracking device, said Jeff Sikich, a wildlife biologist with the National Park Service’s Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.
A remote camera set up by the United States Geological Survey and Cooper Ecological Monitoring originally spotted the puma, a male about 2 to 3 years old, and USGS authorities then notified the SMMNRA.
“The main purpose of capturing was to place a GPS tracking radio collar,” Sikich said. “We can get really detailed information on habitat use.”
The lion was captured using cage traps, using a dead animal in the back of the cage and waiting for the animal to step in.
Local pumas often feast on mule deer, but can be “opportunistic,” occasionally taking down a coyote, Sikich said.
The mountain lion, fittingly named puma 22, or simply P-22, weighs about 120 pounds, typical for his age.
Full-grown local males can weigh as much as 145-150 pounds, while females tap out at about 70-80 pounds, Sikich said.
The SMMNRA took blood and DNA tests to better understand P-22’s lifestyle.
“We’re interested to know what roads they’re crossing, what they are eating,” Sikich said. “Then we’ll actually hike into that point to see what they’re eating.
The DNA tests allow researchers to find out whether the cat is related to other cats in the Santa Monica Mountains region.
P-22 was not near any trails, but Sikich did have some advice for anyone who happens to encounter a mountain lion.
“If you have children, keep them close. Keep dogs on a leash,” he said. “Do not run. You want to stand your ground. … Throw objects at it.”
GPS Tracking Devices Track Mountain Lions Birth and Deaths
In 2010 state fish and game wardens say a mountain lion found dead in the Santa Monica Mountains in California was killed and mutilated by poachers, reported the WildLife Traveler and Huffington Post.
The 7-year-old male, known as P-15, was found dead in a Ventura County canyon. He had been tracked for nearly two years by National Park Service scientists, but in late August, the animal’s GPS tracking collar stopped transmitting signals. Tissue samples confirmed the mountain lion’s identity.
Another male mountain lion died in late August while attempting to cross the 405 Freeway in Los Angeles during morning rush hour.
The 15-month-old mountain lion’s movement was being monitored by SMMNRA GPS tracking device in the Santa Monica Mountains. The mountain lion had been tracked since it was three weeks old.