Biologists mark the 99th Mountain Lion in the Santa Monica Mountains

Young female mountain lion found in the western part of the range

By Sam Catanzaro

Biologist recently fitted a GPS collar to a young female mountain lion in the western part of the Santa Monica Mountains, the 99th cat enrolled in a long-term study.

On September 8, 2021, National Park Service (NPS) biologists captured P-99 in the western portion of the Santa Monica Mountains and tagged a female car that is estimated to be around two to three years old.

“While the young mountain lion was anesthetized, a full exam was performed that included biological sample collection, morphological measurements, ear tag application, physical exam and application of a GPS radio collar. She weighed 75 kg. at the time of capture, “said NPS officials.

Since 2002, the NPS has studied mountain lions in and around the Santa Monica Mountains to find out how they survive in a fragmented and urbanized environment. The park’s biologists have captured and examined 99 individual mountain lions, including dozens of kitten litters.

Biologists are currently tracking 13 mountain lions with GPS collars in the region.

“Mountain lions need sufficient prey and habitat to survive, and we estimate that the Santa Monica Mountains (south of 101 and west of 405) can feed around 10-15 mountain lions. That number doesn’t include kittens, ”the NPS said.

Mountain lions are threatened with local extinction in the Santa Monica Mountains due to their isolation from nearby populations.

Southern California’s extensive highway network is a major barrier to wildlife, which is particularly a problem for the mountain lion population, which is largely isolated in the Santa Monica Mountains. Planning and fundraising for a wildlife crossing on the 101 Freeway in the Liberty Canyon area of ​​Agoura Hills are ongoing. The bridge would create a link between the small population of lions in the Santa Monica Mountains and the large and genetically diverse populations in the north.

Another problem these cats face is poison. Since the National Park Service began its study of mountain lions in the Santa Monica Mountains 17 years ago, over six lions have died from rat poison.

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