Los Angeles’ cougar called P-22 will be captured and evaluated for signs of distress after it killed a leashed Chihuahua last month and attacked another last week, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife announced Thursday.
Officials have noted that P-22 has been sighted and encountered near human dwellings amid its habitat in Griffith Park. Furthermore, P-22 is 12 years old, making it a “remarkably old cat in the wild,” according to CDFW.
The cougar is the oldest Southern California specimen being studied, according to the Associated Press; most wild cougars live for around a decade. P-22’s attacks on pets are considered a possible sign of distress.
“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 CDFW elaborated in its announcement.
Officials have worked with P-22 for most of his life cycle. The cougar was first seen in 2012, having reached Griffith Park by unprecedentedly crossing two freeways.
“We just need to get our hands on him and determine if anything is wrong,” CDFW spokesperson Tim Daly told the Los Angeles Times.
Environmental activists pin the change in behavior on the small size of P-22’s natural range.
“He has lived for over a decade in the smallest known home range ever recorded for a male mountain lion,” Beth Pratt, California director for the National Wildlife Federation, wrote in an email to supporters, according to the L.A. Times.
Rene Astorga, owner of the Chihuahua that survived P-22’s Dec. 2 attack, told KABC-TV about the incident.
“I thought it was a dog — and it was a huge mountain lion. I saw the collar. At that point it was a fight-or-flight instinct. I started punching or kicking — never let go of the leash until finally I felt he was loose. I picked up my dog and ran inside the house,” Mr. Astorga said.