Saturday, June 3, 2023

Famous LA mountain lion euthanized after health problems

Christopher Weber

LOS ANGELES (AP) – P-22, the famed mountain lion who lived in the heart of Los Angeles and became a symbol of urban pressure on wildlife, died Saturday after an alarming change in his behavior showed signs of deteriorating health. Got to know. And the injuries are likely to have been caused by the car.

Officials with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife said the decision to euthanize the beloved big cat was made after veterinarians determined she had a skull fracture and chronic illnesses, including skin infections and kidney and liver diseases.

“Her prognosis was considered poor,” said agency director Chuck Bonham, who broke down in tears during a news conference announcing the cougar’s death. “It really hurts … It’s been incredibly difficult for several days.”

The animal became the face of a campaign to build a wildlife crossing on Los Angeles-area freeways to give big cats, coyotes, deer and other wildlife a safe path to the nearby Santa Monica Mountains, where they have a place to roam.

Seth Riley, wildlife branch chief with the National Park Service, called the P-22 “an ambassador for his species”, with the wildlife bridge a symbol of his enduring legacy.

State and federal wildlife officials announced earlier this month that they were concerned that P-22 “may be exhibiting signs of distress” due to aging, considering whether to take steps to euthanize the animal. need to study.

The aged mountain was captured on December 12 in a residential backyard in the trendy Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles, a month after a dogwalker killed the chihuahua on leash. Wildlife officials said an anonymous report indicating P-22 may have been hit by a vehicle was confirmed by a CT scan, which showed injuries to its head and torso.

State officials determined that the only possible options were euthanasia or confinement in an animal sanctuary—a daunting prospect for a wild lion.

P-22 is believed to have lived to be 12 years old, which is longer than most male mountain lions in the wild.

His name was his number one in a National Park Service study that confronts large-roaming big cats in habitats fragmented by urban sprawl and surrounded by massive freeways that are not only dangerous to cross but at the expense of local populations. There are also barriers to genetic diversity. ,

The cougar was regularly recorded on security cameras strolling residential areas near his home in Griffith Park, an island of woods and picnic areas in the heart of Los Angeles.

“P-22’s existence on a wooded island in the heart of Los Angeles has attracted people from around the world and revitalized efforts to protect our diverse native species and ecosystems,” Governor Gavin Newsom said in a statement Saturday. ”

Ground was broken this year on Wildlife Crossing, which will expand US 101 by 200 feet (60.96 m). The construction is expected to be completed by early 2025.

The P-22 usually hunted deer and coyotes, but in November the National Park Service confirmed that the cougar attacked and killed a chihuahua mix that was walking the narrow streets of the Hollywood Hills.

The cougar is also suspected of attacking another chihuahua in the Silver Lake neighborhood this month.

Beth Pratt with the National Wildlife Federation said she hoped the life and death of P-22 would inspire the creation of more wildlife crossings in California and across the country. The nonprofit was a major advocate for the LA-area bridge.

“He changed the way L.A. was viewed. And his influential position spread around the world, as he inspired millions of people to see wildlife as their neighbors,” Pratt said.


Associated Press reporter John Antzak contributed.

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