LOS ANGELES (AP) — Tracking data revealed that a mountain lion that triggered a ruckus when it was discovered under a Los Angeles home had only been there a short time, and it quickly returned to an urban wilderness after being left alone, the National Park Service said Friday.
The tracking information came from a GPS collar on the male cougar, dubbed P-22, that transmits its location via a satellite link for a study of local mountain lions, the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area said in a statement.
On April 13, a worker spotted P-22 in the crawlspace of a home in the Los Feliz neighborhood adjacent to Griffith Park, the wilderness park that sprawls over the eastern end of the Santa Monica range surrounded by the nation's second-largest city and its suburbs.
News media descended on the area as wildlife officers tried to haze the lion out of its hideaway by poking it with a stick and firing bean bags and tennis balls near it, seemingly to no effect. The area was then cleared for the night and P-22 was gone when authorities returned the next morning and inspected the crawlspace.
A review of GPS tracking information before the encounter found that as of 6 a.m. on April 13, the mountain lion had left the boundaries of Griffith Park but wasn't yet at the house, the park service said.
The collar logs eight locations in a 24-hour period, most of them during evening hours when mountain lions are typically active. Data wasn't recorded, however, when the cougar was in the crawlspace for lack of the satellite connection.
GPS data next showed he was out of the house before 2 a.m. on April 14 and was back inside Griffith Park by 4 a.m.
Seth Riley, a wildlife ecologist for the national recreation area, said that in ensuing days P-22 was spending time in remote, natural areas of the park.
“Like most mountain lions, he likes to find a quiet place during the day to rest, but we hope next time it will be in dense chaparral as opposed to under someone's house,” Riley said in the statement.
P-22 first gained fame for managing to make his way from mountains west of Los Angeles and head east into the heart of the metropolis, crossing major freeways to establish his range in Griffith Park. He then became a celebrity when he was handsomely photographed at night with the lighted Hollywood sign in the background.
A male mountain lion's range typically spans 200 square miles but P-22's range in the park is about 8 square miles. The park service said that is the smallest home range of any of the lions it has been studying in and around the Santa Monicas since 2002. P-22 was captured and outfitted with the GPS collar in 2012.