Hikes up Bronson Canyon just got a whole lot more interesting. Urban wildlife is alive and thriving in Griffith Park, as confirmed by a team of biologists who recently caught and released a three year old mountain lion, named P-22 (for Puma 22) in the park on March 28th.
The puma was first spotted by a remotely triggered wildlife camera, initiating a team of scientists to track the large cat for nine days and finally capture him. They fitted him with a fancy new GPS collar and collected weight, measurements, and blood and tissues samples before releasing him again at the same site. The exact location was not disclosed by the National Park Service biologists from the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area (SMMNRA).
The office of Councilman Tom LaBonge (CD 4), an avid Griffith Park hiker himself, reported that Wildlife Ecologist Seth Riley found the presence of the puma to be a very good sign. “This is very interesting to learn of a large carnivore such as a mountain lion in a park as small and surrounded by urbanization as Griffith Park. It is a testament to the health of the natural systems in the LA area, including Griffith Park, that the full complement of wildlife can persist here. It will be extremely interesting to see where this animal goes and how long he stays there.”
P-22 is one of five known mountain lions in the larger lion-mapping region which includes Pt. Mugu State Park in the west, to north of Highway 126 in Los Padres National Forest, to Griffith Park. The area seems large but is fragmented and not nearly the 250 square mile hunting and mating ground required by your average puma. One can only hope P-22 will find his way back to the larger expanses of a less-urban area before some LA resident tangles with him.
Mountain lions are solitary animals and rarely cross the paths of humans. Nevertheless, the Park Service reminds hikers to be vigilant while hiking and to keep small children and dogs close by. If you encounter P-22 or one of his brethren on a trail, back away slowly while making lots of intimidating noise and waving of arms. And consider yourself lucky – to have seen such a rare creature in LA’s own ‘central park’ and to be able to tell the tale, or tail, to your hiking buddies after the fact.
National Park Service Santa Monica Mountains: Lions in the Santa Monica Mountains