P-41. National Park Service.
The National Park Service project to track mountain lions in the local wild lands expanded this month to the Verdugo Mountains above Glendale and Burbank. A team captured and tagged an adult male, now known as P-41. He weighs 130 pounds and is believed to be about eight years old, based on his measurements and teeth wear. Scientists have long known that pumas roam in the Verdugos range — remember those two cubs found under a car in Burbank in 2011 — but the park service calls this "the first time a large carnivore has been studied in that small and isolated mountain range."
“We hope to learn more about landscape connectivity and movement corridors in the region,” said Dr. Seth Riley, a wildlife ecologist with the National Park Service. “There’s really no way to fully understand and conserve mountain lions in the Santa Monica Mountains without understanding their movements across the larger landscape.”
Riley and his team are unsure whether P-41 will remain in the Verdugos or whether he uses the southern San Gabriel Mountains as part of his territory, which would involve crossing the 210 Freeway.
With only 19 square miles of natural habitat, the Verdugos would be a relatively small home range for an adult male mountain lion. Males can have home ranges up to 250 square miles, although the Griffith Park animal known as P-22 has a home range of only about eight square miles. P22 is believed to have the smallest home range of any adult male mountain lion ever recorded.
The Verdugo Mountains are a small, isolated mountain range that include portions of the cities of Burbank, Glendale and Los Angeles. Though they are located only a few miles from the eastern end of the Santa Monica Mountains, scientists believe there may be significant genetic differentiation between mountain lion populations in the two ranges, and they have no evidence of movement between them. The San Gabriel Mountains, believed to have a large mountain lion population, lie only about one mile to the northeast of the Verdugos.
P-41 via the National Park Service.
There's an interesting story behind how the park service got on to P-41. As the LA Times' Martha Groves reports today, he was first spotted in 2010 on a trail camera put out in the Verdugos by Johanna Turner, a sound effects editor for Universal Studios. Since then, cameras maintained by Turner and Denis Callet — we told you about them in 2014 — caught images of P-41 several times. They took their findings to the National Park Service, and on May 7 he was tagged.
Biologists with the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area say they are now tracking 11 lions and know of three others that are not collared. P-12, the father of most of the recent cubs in the Santa Monicas, is currently uncollared. The lions seem quite spread out now into the Santa Susanna Mountains and the Los Padres National Forest, per the new park service map, which shows only the animals' general location.
Those two cubs found in Burbank in 2011 are all grown up now, of course. Last we heard, they were living at a sanctuary in Riverside County.