Thursday, October 26, 2006

CA: Mountain lion presumed dead

Sylvie Belmond

National Park Services officials believe that an unknown mountain lion roaming in the Santa Monica Mountains killed P8, the last young male offspring of the local dominant cougar labeled P1.

P1 and his family were tracked via radio collar for several years. The 9-year-old male killed his mate and two of his youngsters in recent months, but tracking records show he wasn't anywhere near the site of the latest incident when it occurred on Sept. 25.

"P8 was confirmed dead and we suspect that he was killed by another mountain lion," said Raymond Sauvajot, chief of planning, science and resource management for the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.

An autopsy showed that P8 had a broken leg and several major puncture wounds. The lions have monitoring collars that indicate P8 and P1 weren't in the same area when the incident occurred.

"Thus we are nearly certain that another mountain lion, probably a male, is in the Santa Monica Mountains," Sauvajot said. Biologists are still waiting for genetic test results to see if they can learn anything about the other lion.

"Our hopes for P8 dispersing outside of the mountains are now eliminated. P1 is still alive and well, as is P6 (a young female and the last surviving offspring of P1)," Sauvajot said. He hopes the other lion that is apparently out there will be found so it can be fitted with a radio collar for monitoring purposes.

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