P-99 is newest mountain lion in landmark Santa Monica Mountains study

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Mountain lion P-99 is seen in a photo released by the National Park Service.

Mountain lion P-99 is seen in a photo released by the National Park Service.

A female mountain lion captured by biologists last month is the 99th to be tracked as part of a landmark study of the puma population in the Santa Monica Mountains, officials announced Sunday.

P-99 was caught in the western portion of the expansive range on Sept. 8 and fitted with a GPS collar, according to the National Park Service.

The cougar is estimated to be around 2 to 3 years old, and weighed 75 pounds when she was examined under anesthesia. Biological samples were also collected and an ear tag was attached to her, officials said in a statement.

She’s the fifth big cat to be captured this year in the Santa Monica Mountains this year. Her lineage was not immediately known, so it’s still unclear if one or both of her parents were also being tracked by the park service.

NPS biologists have been studying the mountain lion population across the range for nearly 20 years to see how the pumas survive in the increasingly fractured sprawl of Los Angeles County.

To date, 99 big cats have been radio-collared as part of the study; however, only 13 are currently being tracked, according to the statement.

Park service officials estimate about 10 to 15 adult mountain lions can be supported by the environment of the Santa Monica Mountains, which includes areas south of the 101 Freeway and west of the 405 Freeway.

With its sprawling residential neighborhoods and busy freeway system, L.A. is just one of two megacities in the world that are home to the large-ranging, nocturnal species — something NPS calls “a testament to the quality of open space and the habitat connectivity that still remains.”

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