A new mountain lion, dubbed P-80, is being tracked as part of wildlife biologists’ study of the cats’ survival in the urban Los Angeles area, officials announced Wednesday.
P-80, a female adult, was recently captured in a Woolsey Fire burn area in the central Santa Monica Mountains. She’s believed to be about 5 or 6 years old and weighed in at 82 pounds, officials at the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area said.
Researchers say she’s in good condition. They also believe she’s likely to have already had a litter, because she appears to have lactated in the past.
“Soon after her capture she left the burn perimeter and it will be really interesting to learn where her home range is and who she may be related to,” Ranger Ana Beatriz said in a Facebook post.
P-80 was given a GPS collar that will allow biologists to track her location daily.
She’s the first cat the join the study this year, after five were added to the ranks last year. The project has been running 18 years.
By tracking the big cats over a long period of time, researchers have discovered that mountain lions are virtually “trapped on an island of habitat,” according to Beatriz.
Hemmed in by the freeways and the Pacific Ocean, the big cats face myriad challenges in the long-term survival of the species in the Los Angeles landscape, officials say.
Roads represent one major issue, with vehicle collisions among the leading causes of death.
Another threat is the presence of rat poisons, which have caused several mountain lion deaths.
The fragmented territory has also resulted in inbreeding, and the local population has among the lowest genetic diversity ever documented, according to the park service.
L.A. is just one of only two megacities in the world with a population of big cats living in city limits, the other being Mumbai in India.
“The fact that the city can support such large-ranging animals is a testament to the quality of open space and the habitat connectivity that still remains,” according to NPS’s website.
KTLA’s Tracy Bloom contributed to this report.