An uncollared mountain lion was caught on camera roaming the Hollywood Hills just after midnight recently — the first official evidence of a cougar inhabiting a specially preserved parcel of land in Laurel Canyon, wildlife advocates say.
"Neighbors have constantly told us of their own sightings and their own experiences with seeing a mountain lion," said Tony Tucci, co-founder of the wildlife advocacy organization Citizens for Los Angeles Wildlife. "I always believed them, and I'm thrilled we have the evidence."
The Oct. 26 image was snapped by a wildlife camera placed somewhere on a 17-acre plot that CLAW and the Laurel Canyon Assn. are helping to preserve from development. In 2015, the two groups began an effort to raise $1.6 million for the property's purchase.
Tucci says capturing photos of the elusive mountain lion, which does not appear to be tagged, and a variety of other animals — including a gray fox, bobcat and deer — further proves the need to protect the abundance of wildlife in the area.
If the mountain lion is female (you can't tell from the photo), she could be a potential mate for the famed P-22 mountain lion living in Griffith Park.
Believed to be the most urban cougar in Southern California, experts say P-22 was probably born in the Santa Monica Mountains and then crossed the 405 and 101 freeways to make Griffith Park his home in 2012.
Besides P-22, the National Park Service hasn't tracked any other mountain lion east of the 405 Freeway.
"It's unusual for us to have confirmed sightings in that area," said Kate Kuykendall of the National Park Service.
The sighting also may shed new light on the behavior of mountain lions, which are characterized as solitary, Tucci said.
"Maybe we are learning that pumas like P-22 and our uncollared new friend can adapt and coexist with us in urban areas as long as we maintain healthy habitat blocks and corridors," Tucci said.