The famed Hollywood Roaming Mountain Lion P-22 is severely underweight and may have been hit by a car, wildlife experts who performed a health check on the big cat said Tuesday.
The male mountain lion who killed a dog on a leash raised concerns about its behavior and may not be released back into the wild and may be sent to an animal sanctuary or enforced, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife said. Euthanasia, depending on its state of health said.
“Nobody makes this kind of decision lightly,” spokesman Jordan Traverso said in a videoconference. He added that the agency understands “the importance of this animal to the community and to California” and that “we recognize its sadness.”
P-22 was arrested and sedated Monday in the trendy Los Feliz neighborhood, near his frequented Griffith Park, an island of wilderness and picnic areas in the center of Los Angeles’ urban sprawl.
State and federal wildlife officials announced last week that they were concerned the aging cat “may be showing signs of distress” due in part to aging, noting that studies of the animal are needed to determine what to do about it.
The department’s senior wildlife veterinarian, Deana Clifford, said Tuesday’s examination revealed the cat had an eye injury, possibly from a car hit, and more tests would be carried out to determine if the animal had suffered additional head trauma.
Clifford said a computed tomography scan is planned for later this week to investigate other possible chronic health issues that may have contributed to his decline.
P-22 was first captured in 2012 and fitted with a GPS tracking collar as part of a National Park Service study. The cougar was routinely caught on surveillance cameras as it roamed the residential neighborhood near Griffith Park.
P-22 is believed to be about 12 years old, making him the oldest Southern California mountain lion currently being studied. Most cougars live about ten years.
“It’s an old cat, and old cats get old cat disease,” Clifford said. “Anyone who has a cat at home has seen this happen.”
“We’re working through all of these issues as we take all of the findings together and try to make the best decision for this cat,” she said.
The P-22 typically hunts deer and coyotes, but in November, the National Park Service confirmed that the mountain lion had attacked and killed a Chihuahua mix walking the narrow streets of the Hollywood Hills.
The cougar is also suspected of attacking another Chihuahua near Silver Lake this month.
P-22 lives in Griffith Park most of the time, getting there via two major highways. He is the face of a movement to build a wildlife corridor across Los Angeles-area highways to provide a safe passage for big cats, coyotes, deer and other wildlife to travel safely to the neighborhood of the Santa Monica Mountains, where they have room to roam.
The bridge, which broke ground this year, will extend 200 feet (about 60 meters) over US 101. Completion is expected in early 2025.