The National Park Service announced on Twitter this Monday the end of their search for a young mountain lion, saying it’s ”hard to believe” the lion could have survived the Woolsey fire.
Mountain lion P-74, just over a year old, was effectively pronounced dead after his GPS collar stopped sending out GPS and radio signals at 1 p.m. on Nov. 8 – the day the Woolsey fire moved into the central part of the Santa Monica Mountains. NPS biologists also went into the mountains with a telemetric tracking device and found no sign of the lion.
“It is hard to imagine that he could have survived in terms of what was going on,” said NPS spokesperson Kate Kuykendall. “It’s true that these collars can sometimes fail, but it would seem too coincidental to fail the same time as the fire came through.”
P-74 was part of an NPS biologist study that tracked over 50 mountain lions in the region to study how the mammals survive in an increasingly fragmented and urbanized environment as society encroaches upon nature. The study evaluates distribution, movement patterns, behavior and survivorship.
Kuykendall said P-74 was last seen in a photograph a month ago with his mother, whom NPS doesn’t monitor. He was at an age where mountain lions tend to seek independence from their mothers.
“Because he was getting older, they don’t travel in tandem all the time … it’s hard to say what that means for mom,” she said.
12 mountain lions (including P-22, the mountain lion who went viral after being spotted in Los Feliz and Griffith Park) and four bobcats have been found safe after the fires destroyed most of their habitat.
“Over 80 percent of the park service land was lost, but not all of that is the Santa Monica Mountains,” Kuykendall said. “The good news is the eastern half of the mountains didn’t burn too badly and a fair amount on the western half is okay. We’ll continue to monitor and learn more about how these animals navigate this landscape.”