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Meet the Newest Mountain Lion of the Santa Monica Mountains
P-13 is estimated to be around one year old | Photo via National Park Service
Well, she may not be the newest or youngest in our local mountains, but she is the most recent cougar to be trapped, tagged and released by the National Park Service, who has been conducting a study with them over the past seven years.
P-13 (they are named in the order they are caught) was captured on July 31st in the Hidden Valley region, which is the northwest sector of the mountains south of Newbury Park. She is now the third active GPS collar being tracked.
Park rangers with the Santa Monica National Recreation Area track the lions to study the effects of development on their habitat. As more open space is taken away, the less range each lion has to live within. Mountain lions tend to keep separate ranges and will fight to death over territory and food. Currently, most lions are living within each other's ranges, setting up the potential for fights. Several lions have been killed by P-1, the oldest lion known lion in the mountains whose GPS device was recently ripped off in a fight with an untagged lion. He is thought to be still living.
P-10 and P-12 currently have working GPS devices and are in the Topanga and Malibu Creek areas, respectively, but there's no telling when they will roam to other areas. P-12 last March crossed the 101 freeway into the mountains from the Simi Hills. Around the same time, P-10 was tracked near the 405 Freeway.
P-6 could be P-13s mother. UCLA scientists are currently testing DNA samples to see if there is a match. P-6's GPS device also went dead in the past year, but a remote camera caught her alive and well back in May.
There are other lions in the mountains still without collars. Remote cameras that monitor areas have captured a pair of lions walking together near Brentwood and two lions have recently been killed attempting to cross freeways. One lion was found on the 405 in the Sepulveda Pass. Another was found in the Newhall Pass between the Santa Ana and San Gabriel Mountains.