MALIBU—For many residents of Los Angeles, mountain lions continue
to populate the myriad of mountains and canyons that surround the city.
The Santa Monica Mountains, which are bordered by major freeways,
an ocean, and heavy urban development is the home to a vast and thriving
wildlife. Mountain lions are commonly spotted roaming the hills, and every so
often their presence makes headlines—just last August one was discovered
prowling Griffith Park.
with consistent city expansions and an increase in human population, local
wildlife is facing the threat of losing large portions of its natural habitat.
Last summer, two mountain lion kittens were discovered in the Santa Monica
Mountains by National Park Service biologists.
“We’ve implanted tiny transmitters in P23 and P24 [the kittens],”
wildlife biologist Jeff Sikich told Canyon News. “They’re doing well. They’re
with mom now, and we’re following them throughout the week, seeing where they
In an effort to further research on mountain lions in the area,
the Santa Monica Mountains Fund is holding its 2nd Annual Fundraiser for
Mountain Lion Research on Sunday, May 19. The non-profit organization hopes to
raise money for the purchase of key technology to conduct more in-depth studies
of the species, as mountain lions are facing many challenges with increasing
According to Wildlife Project Fund Chair Julie Newsome,
fundraising with the Santa Monica Mountains Fund, and events like the one
scheduled May 19, are ways to help make sure the critical needs in research are
“These studies provide a rare opportunity to learn how living next
to millions of people affects these solitary carnivores,” Newsome told Canyon
News. “I can see how our local wildlife suffers from close interaction with
humans and urbanization.”
The birth of P23 and P24 brings the total of studied mountain
lions in the area up to 24. But according to Sikich, not every lion is tagged.
In 2008, male lion P12 crossed the 101 Freeway, which is the first
documented case of a mountain lion traversing one of the major roads in Los
Angeles. P12, the father of the two kittens born last year, is likewise
the father of their mother, P19, as confirmed by a series of genetic testing.
This is the second occurrence of first-order inbreeding among the mountain lions in the Santa Monica Mountains. According to Sikich, the congenital repercussions of such behavior are “not good for the overall outlook” of the Santa Monica mountain lion population.
“We know that the mountains are not large enough to sustain a
viable population of lives without habitat connectivity,” Sikich said. “The
freeways make very fragmented ecosystems and trap these lions within a confined
Inbreeding, however, is just one of the many challenges these
animals face. In the mix of a growing city, road mortality is a large issue,
along with poisoning due to rodenticides (rat poisons).
“You have the lion that ate the coyote that ate the ground
squirrel that ate the poison,” Sikich said. “It’s very discouraging. All of our
research about what [the lions] are facing in these urban areas, and how
they’re surviving, will be used to promote mountain lion preservation within
the Santa Monica Mountains.”
remains on the south side of the 101 Freeway in the Santa Monica Mountains,
staying near the Malibu Creek State Park and Trancas Canyon areas. The kittens,
according to Sikich, “hang out mostly with mom on the western side of the Santa
“Mom will kick them out after about a year, year and a half. Then
they’re on their own,” he said. “With the money we raise, we expect to purchase
radio collars to put on the two of them in particular.”
At the 2nd Annual Fundraiser for Mountain Lion Research, a live
mountain lion will be joining guests along with interactive displays, food and
wine. Admission to the event is $100 for adults and $25 for children under 12.
For more information or to purchase tickets, visit samofund.org.
“On a personal level, these wild cats are a silent reminder that
nature still exists, even in this metropolitan area of Los Angeles,” Newsome said.
“There is no doubt that human populations will continue to grow; and the
information learned here may not only help these creatures, but also animals
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