What LA's deer-killing cougar looked like a year ago

lion-deer-vdt.jpgVeronique de Turenne's post this morning of photos showing a mountain lion killing off a deer on Mulholland Highway has caused quite a stir. Lots of shares, retweets and reposts. The cougar, a young female, is well known to National Park Service lion trackers in the Santa Monica Mountains. P-23, as she's known, has even been on LA Observed before. She was one of two newborn lion kittens collected and tagged near Circle X Ranch above Malibu last summer:


At the time, researchers discovered through DNA testing that P-23 and her brother kitten, P-24, were both fathered by a male in the range known as P-12. The trouble with that is that P-12 is also the sire of the kittens' mother, P-19. That sort of inbreeding is a result of competition within the limited lion habitat in the Santa Monicas and is not a good sign for the future success of the population. P-19 herself was just born in April 2010. This is P-12 when he was first captured and tagged in 2008, before he crossed the 101 freeway from the Simi Hills and roamed into the Santa Monicas:

P12_1st capture_crop.jpg

P-23, no longer a cub, was photographed sitting on top of a downed deer last Sunday morning on a remote stretch of Mulholland Highway. "Of the 400+ kills our biologists have hiked in on, this is the only one they've seen right on a road, so it's quite a rare sight!," a ranger posted on the Facebook page of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. "She dragged the deer into the dense brush shortly after this photo was taken for a little more privacy." The photo was taken a little before 7 a.m. by Irv Nilsen.

Previously on LA Observed:
Burbank lion cubs are doing pretty well
Griffith Park mountain lion back in the news
Lion killed in Santa Monica may be from north of the 101
P-18 killed while crossing the 405
Three new mountain lion kittens in Santa Monicas

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