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Contact: Kate Kuykendall, 805-370-2343
Contact: Seth Riley, 805-370-2358
THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. - Biologists from Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area (SMMNRA) captured a mountain lion in the Griffith Park area on March 28. After outfitting the lion with a GPS collar, recording measurements and collecting blood and tissue samples, biologists released the animal at the capture site.
According to Wildlife Ecologist Seth Riley, an expert on urban wildlife with the National Park Service, it is significant for such a large carnivore to be discovered in an area so surrounded by urbanization. "It's a testament to the health of the natural systems in the L.A. area, including Griffith Park, that the full complement of wildlife can persist here. It will be very interesting to see where this animal goes and how long he stays there."
Named P-22 (for Puma 22), the lion is male and approximately three years old. Scientists with the Griffith Park Wildlife Connectivity Study, conducted by Cooper Ecological Monitoring, Inc. and the U.S. Geological Survey, first spotted the lion on remotely triggered wildlife cameras in early March. The photos were the first known images of mountain lion activity east of Cahuenga Pass and within the Santa Monica Mountains eco-region.
Scientists with the Griffith Park Wildlife Connectivity Study alerted the mountain lion specialists at SMMNRA, part of the National Park Service, who captured the lion after nine days of trapping. P-22's DNA will be analyzed at UCLA and UC Davis to provide information about where the mountain lion came from and how he might be related to other lions in the region.
As part of a decade-long study, SMMNRA is currently tracking five mountain lions, from Point Mugu in the west, Los Padres National Forest in the north, to Griffith Park in the east. The goal of the study is to understand how mountain lions survive in such a fragmented, urban landscape and how best to conserve them. Mountain lions require ample acreage to find mates and sufficient food, often with "home ranges" of up to 250 square miles. Because Griffith Park is only a fraction of that size, scientists do not expect P-22 to stay in the park for an extended period of time.
Mountain lions are solitary animals and sightings are extremely rare. Out of an abundance of caution, when on a trail, keep small children close to you and dogs on leash. If you do encounter a mountain lion, make yourself appear as intimidating as possible by yelling, waving your arms and even throwing objects. Slowly back away and allow the mountain lion a path to move away.
About SMMNRA: Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area is the largest urban national park in the country, encompassing more than 150,000 acres of mountains and coastline in Ventura and Los Angeles counties. It comprises a seamless network of local, state, and federal parks interwoven with private lands and communities.