Santa Monica Observer - Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

By Kate Kuykendahl
Natl Park Srvc 

Death of a Mountain Lion: P-41 Dies in the Verdugo Mountains

Necropsy will help National Park Service understand these rare creatures.


October 9, 2017

Los Angeles Times

Cougar P-41 crossed two freeways to hang out in the Verdugo Hills

Mountain Lion P-41 Found Dead in Verdugo Mountains

By Kate Kuykendahl, NPS.

The mountain lion known as P-41 was found dead yesterday on the edge of the Verdugo Mountains, near the Shadow Hills neighborhood. The cause of death is unclear, in part because the carcass had already deteriorated over a period of a few days before the death was reported by a local resident.

"P-41 had already overcome a number of challenges to survive in a relatively small home range with habitat fragmented by roads and development," said Jeff Sikich, biologist for Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, a unit of the National Park Service. "Unfortunately there are a number of challenges for mountain lions to survive in this area."

Although P-41 survived for at least a few weeks after the recent La Tuna Fire, which burned more than 7,000 acres in the Verdugos, it is possible that the fire was a contributing factor in his death. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) will conduct a necropsy to better understand the cause of death. He was approximately 10 years old.

"We are grateful to the resident who reported the dead mountain lion," said CDFW South Coast Region Environmental Scientist Julianne Taylor. "It's important to understand the mountain lions' entire life history, which includes mortalities and cause of death."

National Park Service biologists had been tracking P-41 since May of 2015 and were eager to learn more about landscape connectivity and movement corridors in the region. They were particularly interested to learn whether he would remain in the Verdugos or also use the southern San Gabriel Mountains as part of his territory, which would involve crossing the 210 Freeway.

Mountain lion P-41 alternately frightened, concerned and delighted local resident.

Based on the GPS data collected during the two years he was tracked, he did not cross the 210 Freeway or use the San Gabriel Mountains, but he had crossed State Route 2, otherwise known as the Glendale Freeway, and used portions of the San Rafael Hills as his territory.

The GPS function on P-41's collar failed earlier this summer, so biologists were unable to track how, if at all, the La Tuna Fire affected his movements. Local residents had obtained post-fire remote camera photos of a female mountain lion that also uses the Verdugo Mountains, but had not obtained any photos of P-41.

Since 2002, the National Park Service has been studying mountain lions in and around the Santa Monica Mountains to determine how they survive in an increasingly fragmented and urbanized environment.


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