LOS ANGELES -- Los Angeles' most famous mountain lion, known for roaming across freeways and making a sprawling urban park his home, was captured Monday by wildlife officials who want to examine the big cat after he killed a dog that was being walked in the Hollywood Hills.
The cougar, dubbed P-22, wears a GPS tracking collar as part of a National Park Service study and is regularly recorded on security cameras strolling through residential areas near LA's Griffith Park, a wilderness and picnic area.
P-22 was in stable condition after being hit with a tranquilizer dart in the trendy Los Feliz neighborhood near the park, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife said in an announcement with the National Park Service.
Los Feliz resident Sarah Picchi told the Los Angeles Times that P-22 was tranquilized in her backyard shortly before 11 a.m. Picchi said Fish and Wildlife officers rang at her front gate and said: “'You have a lion in your backyard.'"
“Of course, I knew it was P-22 because I’ve been following the story," she told the newspaper.
An anonymous report Sunday night indicated that P-22 may have been struck by a vehicle, wildlife officials said. After being examined, authorities will “determine the best next steps for the animal while also prioritizing the safety of surrounding communities,” the joint statement said.
“P-22 is a remarkably old cat in the wild and, after being deemed responsible for killing a leashed pet last month, may be exhibiting signs of distress,” the agencies said in a Dec. 8 statement announcing that the famous cougar would be captured.
They didn’t indicate what might happen to the cougar.
P-22 is believed to be about 12 years old, making him the oldest Southern California cougar currently being studied. Most mountain lions live about a decade.
“This is an unprecedented situation in which a mountain lion has continued to survive in such an urban setting. As P-22 has aged, however, the challenges associated with living on an island of habitat seem to be increasing and scientists are noting a recent change in his behavior,” the state wildlife department said last week.
P-22 usually hunts deer and coyotes, but in November the National Park Service confirmed that the cougar attacked and killed a Chihuahua mix that was being walked in the narrow streets of the Hollywood Hills.
The cougar also is suspected of attacking another Chihuahua in the Silver Lake neighborhood this month.
P-22 was the face of the campaign to build a wildlife crossing over a Los Angeles-area freeway to give big cats, coyotes, deer and other wildlife a safe path to the nearby Santa Monica Mountains.
J.P. Rose, policy director for the Center for Biological Diversity, said P-22’s distress in his old age “underscores the need to proactively protect mountain lions and other wildlife by reconnecting our landscape.”
“Wildlife need room to roam to keep animal populations and people healthy and safe. State officials must protect mountain lions under the California Endangered Species Act and LA must adopt a strong connectivity ordinance so other wildlife are not doomed to a life of isolation," Rose said in a statement.
The bridge, which will stretch 200 feet (61 meters) over U.S. 101, broke ground this year and is expected to be completed by early 2025.