Though we all know Los Angeles as the entertainment capital of the world, did you know that the state is home to about 500 different animal species?
Yes. This bustling city is home to a variety of wildlife. One of the most fascinating animals that can be found in LA is the Mountain lion.
Though these majestic creatures are elusive, you may catch a glimpse of them when on a hike or driving on the freeway, especially nearby Santa Monica Mountains where they are known to reside.
By knowing about these creatures, you can improve your awareness and stay safe when enjoying the outdoors by taking precautions to avoid encounters. It’s always better to be prepared and informed when sharing space with any wild animal including mountain lions.
Below I’ve explained all the things you need to know about the mountain lions in LA.
Are There Mountain Lions in Los Angeles?
Yes, there are mountain lions in Los Angeles. Generally, cities like LA wouldn’t inhabit diverse wildlife due to the rapid urbanization of the area especially mountain lions which are apex predators. However, the mountain lions of LA are very adaptable and resilient and can not only live but also thrive in such environments.
Most of the mountain lions live in the Santa Monica Mountains. The mountain lion range also includes various parks like Malibu Creek State Park, Topanga State Park, and the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.
Though the mountain lions in LA are prominently found in these mountains, there have been occasional sightings of these magnificent creatures in other parts of the city as well.
While these sightings are rare and typically are due to young males who are migrating in search of new territory, it is important to be always vigilant and keep a safe distance when encountering them. Do enjoy the view but remember to respect the wild animals.
How Common Are Mountain Lions in Los Angeles?
Although mountain lions are present in the Santa Monica Mountains of LA, they are not common. As per estimates, only 10-15 mountain lions are found living in the mountains which is considered a very small population.
In fact, mountain lions often disperse from place to place in search of prey and new territory especially now that the city is urbanizing. While tracking the exact number of sightings is difficult as these may vary year to year, there are generally a handful of sightings of mountain lions each year in Los Angeles.
What Mountain Lion Lived in Los Angeles?
As explained before, most of the mountain lions in LA are found in Santa Monica Mountains. However, a few lions may also disperse to nearby locations in search of prey or to establish new territory. One such mountain lion was P-22. It was a symbol of hope for conservationists and an inspiration for the entire LA city.
Originally an inhabitant of the Santa Monica mountains, P-22 is believed to have dispersed into Griffith Park in 2012 by taking a 50-mile journey through 2 freeways, and a lot of traffic and humans. After being caught in a film, his fame skyrocketed. The big cat lived a silent life and roamed around at night evading human eyes.
However, due to a hit by a car at an unknown time sometime in early 2022, the lion had damaged most of its body and exhibited a radical rapid change in behavior. As the creature was suffering in pain and nothing could be done, state wildlife officials euthanized him.
No other lion has made such an impact on the wildlife conservation efforts in California than P-22. After P-22’s death, the state undertook initiatives to provide wildlife crossings to reconnect the tattered habits.
One such is the construction of Wallis Annenberg Wildlife Crossing in California connecting Santa Monica mountains with Simi Hills which when completed would be one of the largest urban wildlife crossings in the U.S.
Also Check Our Guide On Mountain Lions IN US
How Big Are Mountain Lions Los Angeles?
In general, mountain lions in LA are of similar size to other mountain lions found throughout their range. There are however further studies suggesting that mountain lions in LA might be smaller than others which may be due to various factors like genetics and prey availability.
While a male adult mountain lion weighs between 120 to 150 pounds, a female adult mountain lion weighs between 70 to 90 pounds. This makes them smaller as compared to other apex predators like tigers and lions.
These creatures also have short, tawny fur and a surprisingly long tail about 33% of their body length which makes them quite distinct in the wild.
Though mountain lions may be small, they are very important to the ecosystem as they play a role in maintaining the balance in nature.
What Do Mountain Lions Eat in Los Angeles?
Like most of the mountain lions in other regions, Mountain lions in Los Angeles are carnivores. Most of their diet includes a variety of prey like elk, deer, bighorn sheep, and small mammals like rodents, and rabbits. Additionally, in Santa Monica Mountains, mountain lions often prey on coyotes.
As the human population has grown and expanded, mountain lions’ habitat in LA has reduced making it difficult to find and hunt prey.
This has pushed the creatures to depend elsewhere for prey. While these creatures are mostly shy and avoid human contact, mountain lions of LA are also known to feed on livestock which has led to conflicts with people.
Does Beverly Hills Have Mountain Lions?
Beverly Hills doesn’t have an established population of mountain lions. As it is close to Santa Monica Mountains, where the mountain lions are known to live, there have been few sightings of these creatures in the Beverly Hill residential area. This is mostly from a mountain lion dispersed from Santa Monica mountains in search of prey or to establish a territory.
While you may not see a mountain lion ever in LA, it is always important to be cautious and aware. And if you do spot one, keep a safe distance and avoid approaching or harassing the animal in any way.
Also Check Our Guide On Mountain Lion In Pennsylvania
Can I Buy Mountain Lion in Los Angeles?
No, you can’t buy or own a mountain lion in Los Angeles or anywhere else in U.S. Californian law prohibits the possession of any wild animal without a special permit, violating which will lead to hefty fines, imprisonment, and confiscation of the animal.
Moreover, mountain lions are wild animals that have specific needs, diets, and habitats which cannot be provided in a home environment.
Owning these wild creatures is not safe both for the animal as well as the owner as these creatures have strong instincts, and can become unpredictable which makes them a potential danger.
Therefore, not only is it illegal but also inhumane and dangerous to buy, own or possess a wild animal such as a mountain lion.
And that was everything you need to know about the Mountain Lion in LA. I hope this article answered all your queries.
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I’m a passionate animal lover and researcher, I’ve created this website so that people can learn about the size and characteristics of different animal species. My goal is to educate and inspire people to appreciate the diversity of our planet’s wildlife.