Last Sunday, some lucky Los Angeles motorists were given the opportunity to view a very rare sight. A mountain lion, known to National Park Service (NPS) researchers as P-23, was spotted killing a deer alongside the Mulholland Highway in the Santa Monica Mountains Recreation Area.
The incident, captured on film by Motorcyclist Irv Nilsen, shows P-23 straddling her downed prey just before she drags it off into the brush to eat.
P-23, a young female who just recently left her mother, is just one of 22 mountain lions outfitted with GPS tracking collars that the National Park Service has been monitoring since 2002 to better understand how human development and urbanization is impacting the large cats.
According to NPS researchers, P-23's home range in the Santa Monica Mountains is not significantly different from other lions that live in areas with little or no urban development. The typical territory for these adult male lions averages about 200 square miles and 75 square miles for adult females.
Since trophy hunting of mountain lions was banned 23-years-ago in California with the passage of Proposition 117, the biggest threat to mountain lions in that state now is the loss and fragmentation of habitat by roads and urban development. Two major freeways slice through the Santa Monica mountain range (the 405 and the 101) creating isolated islands of habitat that are almost impossible to escape from. Rodenticides — rat poisons — also threaten these urban edge lions, who feed on poisoned rodents or other animals that have ingested said toxic creatures.
For more information, visit the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area's Facebook page.