Are There Mountain Lions In Los Angeles? Everything You Need To Know

Mountain Lions In Los Angeles

Every family has one family member who goes by a bunch of different nicknames. The cat family is no exception. Puma, panther, cougar, catamount- these are all different names for the same cat- the mountain lion. 

Names aren’t the only way the mountain lion is versatile. They can adapt to nearly any environment, which makes them one of the most widespread land animals in the Western Hemisphere, second only to humans. 

Are There Mountain Lions In Los Angeles?

Yes, there are mountain lions living in Los Angeles. That may surprise you because most people associate Los Angeles with glamor and urban life – the iconic Hollywood sign, expensive coffee shops, or even the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Los Angeles is the only megacity in the United States to have a thriving population of large felines. The only other megacity in the world that has similar cat citizens is Mumbai, India.

What helps mountain lions live their best life not only in Los Angeles but in California as well, is the vast expanses of forests and mountains. Nearly half of California is covered in uninhabited, protected forest land. This is perfect for mountain lions, who prefer to live in solitude 

In Los Angeles, these cats can be found prowling near the Santa Monica Mountains. The Santa Monica Mountains are home to many other creatures as well, notably bobcats and snakes. Apart from the Santa Monica Mountains, mountain lions also live further up north in the Santa Susanas, and in the southeastern Santa Anas.

How Many Mountain Lions In Los Angeles?

Until the 15th century, mountain lions were found in every nook and corner of North America. Today, their population has reduced drastically.

In the United States, California has the highest population of mountain lions compared to other states. In Los Angeles, however, there aren’t quite that many. At any given time, one can spot only around two dozen mountain lions in and around the city. This dwindling number puts them at high risk for inbreeding, which causes a lot of genetic and biological issues.

What Mountain Lion Lived In Los Angeles?

Mountain Lions In Los Angeles

Out of all the mountain lions that have ever lived in Los Angeles, one of them has left its paw print on the city’s history forever. This mountain lion is P-22. The “P” in his name stands for “panther,” and “22” refers to his rank in the NPS puma study. When he was two years old, P-22 became a household name all over the country. You may wonder what he did to become so famous, and where he is today. Well, his story is one-of-a-kind. 

P-22 was born in 2010. Like most mountain lions in Los Angeles, his birthplace was the Santa Monica Mountains. For the first two years of his life, no one knew he existed. He was first spotted in 2012, by a camera that was set up in Griffith Park.

That’s when his story started gaining traction. Griffith Park is in central LA, which is almost fifty miles away from his original home. The most astonishing part of his story is that to get there, P-22 must have had to cross two major freeways- the I-405 and the US 101. Most other animals don’t survive crossing such busy roads, but against all odds, P-22 made it. 

What Happened To The Mountain Lion In Los Angeles?

For nearly a decade, P-22 made the area around Griffith Park his home. He lived alone and mostly stayed out of trouble (although, he was a “cat suspect” in a gruesome koala bear murder in 2016). He gained a large fan following and was the inspiration behind many movies, TV shows, and books.

However, in December 2022, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife discovered that P-22 was in extremely poor health conditions. He had a skull fracture, stage 2 kidney failure, and heart disease, among other things. In order to prevent more suffering, P-22 was euthanized the same month. 

Also, Check Our Guide On Mountain Lions In the U.S.

Are Mountain Lions A Problem In Los Angeles?

Mountain lions are solitary animals. The chances of people running into them are quite slim, considering that they’re nocturnal. In areas like Los Angeles, where sightings are a little more frequent, it is advised to avoid traveling alone at night, especially with children or pets. 

Sadly enough, humans are a bigger threat to mountain lions than they are to us. In urban cities like Los Angeles, a huge threat to their existence is human development- which leads to the loss of their natural habitat. 

This is probably what caused P-22 to move closer to the city in the first place. Another sad cause of many mountain lion deaths is exposure to rat poison- either directly or by eating an animal that has poison inside of them. Sometimes, these big cats are also killed by livestock owners who deem them a threat to their farm animals.

What Do Mountain Lions In Los Angeles Eat?

Mountain Lions In Los Angeles

Mountain lions are ambush hunters with excellent vision. They are active from dusk to dawn and hunt during the night.

For Los Angeles mountain lions, the most common prey is mule deer. They typically eat one deer per week, two if they are lucky. Their next meat of choice is coyote meat. Occasionally, they also hunt smaller prey like raccoons and rabbits. 

What To Do If You See A Mountain Lion In LA?

Despite being big cats, mountain lions don’t want to take their chances with humans. Studies show that mountain lions might be as scared of humans as humans are scared of them. This is not to say that you should run towards one if you ever have a chance encounter in the wild. However, it helps to know that if they hear you first, they will probably run away instead of attack. 

If you live in Los Angeles, especially near their habitat, you must still be on alert. Since mountain lions are most active from dusk to dawn, avoid walking alone at that time. If it’s unavoidable, make sure to keep your pets on a leash and close to you at all times. 

If you happen to spot a mountain lion, slowly back out of the place and do not approach it. If they spot you back, experts say you should stop, and not run. Don’t play dead, but instead, maintain eye contact. Show the cat that you’re the alpha. Look bigger by raising your arms. Stand tall and speak (Shout) firmly. Eventually, they will leave you alone. 

Also, Read About Mountain Lions in New York


And that was everything about the Mountain Lions in Los Angeles. I hope this article served you well.

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