Say Meow To P-77, SoCal's Newest Mountain Lion

Mountain lion P-77 was collared and released back into the wild in November 2019. (Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area via Facebook)

Somewhere in the hills surrounding Simi Valley, a mountain lion is roaming around with a new piece of hardware.

The two year-old female, now known as P-77, was captured and outfitted with a radio-tracking collar before she was released into the wild earlier this month.

She's now one of 11 living mountain lions currently being tracked across Southern California.

She joins P-75, a female who was spotted climbing a tree in a Pacific Palisades mobile home park back in June 2019.

Park Service spokesperson Ana Beatriz Cholo says P-77 appears to be in good health. Before she was released, she was weighed and measured and wildlife biologists took a whisker sample to build her DNA profile.

"We are interested in finding out who this cat is related to, who the parents are, the siblings," Cholo says.

Southern California's puma population has suffered in recent decades due to habitat loss and inbreeding.

Three big cats were found dead this year. P-53, a 4-year-old female lion, and P-30, a 6-year-old male, had traces of rat poison in their bodies. P-61, a 4-year-old male, died after being hit by a car on the 405 in the Sepulveda Pass area. Researchers think he may have been running from an uncollared puma at the time.

Like her fellow big cats, P-77 has a lot to contend with. There are turf wars with other mountain lions. There's the risk of getting hit by a car while trying to cross freeways, which limit mating opportunities and decrease the genetic diversity of the local mountain lion population. Then there's the risk of mange. Plus, these big cats have to contend with rat poison and other chemicals introduced into the food chain by humans, who are the worst.