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Officials Yet to Confirm Mountain Lion Sightings in L.A. Neighborhoods

This mountain lion captured on a remote wildlife camera died in 2011 when it attempted to cross the 405 Freeway. | Photo: Courtesy National Park Service
This mountain lion captured on a remote wildlife camera died in 2011 when it attempted to cross the 405 Freeway. | Photo: Courtesy National Park Service

Is the mountain lion that's made L.A.'s Griffith Park home for last several months on the move? Studio City Patch is reporting two separate sightings over the past few days, first in the Toluca Lake area and more recently in Sherman Oaks. But the National Park Service, which monitors the local puma population, has not been able to confirm the sightings.

P-22, the Griffith Park cat, was last tracked on Sunday "in the heart of Griffith Park," said Kate Kuykendall, a spokesperson for the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. She said a GPS collar fitted on him earlier this year is not functioning and that biologists are using radio telemetry to confirm his whereabouts. They will track P-22 again later this week.

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As a wildlife corridor, the Santa Monica Mountains is fragmented by buildings and roads. Two major obstacles, the 405 and 101 freeways (and the very developed Mulholland corridor between), have made Griffith Park an unusual setting for mountain lions to find themselves in. At least two have died trying to cross the 405 in the past five years (but the biggest source of local mortality is death by another mountain lion). If the recent reported sightings are a mountain lion, but not P-22, it would still be rare for a different mountain lion found east of the 405. Park biologists get calls about bobcats misidentified as mountain lions more often than not.

Even if a mountain lion is roaming tony Mulholland Drive, officials are not concerned about the public's safety. Mountain lion attacks on humans are rare, despite one occurring earlier this month, the 15th recorded in the state since 1890.

Since 1996, when the local mountain lion population went under study by the park service, mule deer accounted for 94 percent of the kills made by the 22 cats tracked, Seth Riley, a park biologist, told a group of residents at a Friends of Griffith Park lecture in June. Two percent of kills were made within 100 meters of development.

If a person ever does encounter one, here are some tips.

For ongoing environmental coverage in March 2017 and afterward, please visit our show Earth Focus, or browse Redefine for historic material.
KCET's award-winning environment news project Redefine ran from July 2012 through February 2017.

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