‘New year, new cat’: Young male mountain lion added to Santa Monica Mountains study

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Mountain lion P-95 is seen in an undated photo released Jan. 26, 2021, by the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreations Area.

Mountain lion P-95 is seen in an undated photo released Jan. 26, 2021, by the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreations Area.

A young male mountain lion has become the latest to join the National Park Service’s study of the big cats’ survival in and around the Santa Monica Mountains.

The cat, dubbed P-95, was outfitted with a GPS collar after being captured in a central area of the mountain range on Jan. 16, according to the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.

“New year, new cat!” the park wrote on Facebook. “Welcome to our puma family – P-95!”

He is now among 10 radio-collared mountain lions being tracked as part of the NPS study. Seven of them are in the Santa Monica Mountains, two in the Simi Hills and one — the beloved P-22 — in Griffith Park.

Wildlife biologists say P-95 appears to be about 1 ½ years old. He weighed in at 90 pounds and was in good condition.

Biologists heard another big cat chirping nearby while they were assessing P-95, and they later spotted the animal. They believe P-95 is likely still traveling with a sibling or his mother, the park said.

Officials say they performed a checkup on P-95 “from the bottom of his paws to the teeth in his head” and collected blood, tissue, and other biological samples.

NPS has been studying the area’s urban mountain lions since 2002.

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,” Ranger Ana Beatriz has said.

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.

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