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News: 09/15/2019

Young male mountain lion collared in Bennett Valley area

P19 mountain lion
P19, the latest mountain lion to be collared in the Living with Lions study.

Audubon Canyon Ranch’s Living with Lions team has collared another mountain lion in the local area. Now known as P19, the male is the offspring of P1, Sonoma’s “Super Mama,” and P5, the resident male in the area.

Audubon Canyon Ranch’s Living with Lions team captured and collared the 13-month-old juvenile on Wednesday, Sept. 4, in Bennett Valley. Now known as P19, the young male looked healthy and well cared for by his mom.

“He weighed in at a good 70 pounds, has really cool, big paws which he still needs to grow into, but [I] can see he was in very good condition, no doubt thanks to his mom who has been hunting for him all this time,” wrote Dr. Quinton Martins in an email. Martins leads the Living with Lions research team. P19 will most likely double his size if he reaches adulthood. The team captured him after Martins saw signs of P1 having made a kill using the GPS data. He investigated the site and found she had killed a very large buck. “Quite amazing to see how it was then dragged quite some way into dense bush as is typical of mountain lions to do. We then used the remains to bait a cage later that day and he went into the cage at 7:38 p.m. The capture went very smoothly. The landowners were fantastic allowing us to conduct this on their property!”

The research team first discovered P19 when he was just a week old, one of two kittens, in his mother’s den in the Glen Ellen area, in August 2018. This is the third litter of P1’s cubs that the team has been able to observe, although the survival rate of her offspring has been low; none of them have survived past 2.5 years, either dying of natural causes or being shot under depredation permits for killing livestock.

“It seems that his sister or brother [from this litter] did not make it, as there is only one of the two cubs left over,” noted Martins. The team has not ruled out that P18, the mountain lion who lost its way and ended up at the Santa Rosa Mall in April could have been his sibling, but they are still waiting for the genetic results. That mountain lion was relocated locally after it was tranquilized and fitted with an ear tag, as it was too young to collar. “The age looked similar, and it was not too far from where P1 had been, though in reality it could easily have been another cat.”

Based on P19’s age, he’s getting ready to leave his mother’s side (called dispersing) any day now, said Martins. Wearing the GPS tracking collar, P19’s movements will be able to be monitored by the research team. Home territory ranges of adult male lions average about 150 square miles.

“We wish P19 safe travels through our collective backyards, good deer hunting, and, hopefully, he’ll notice a marked increase in predator-proof enclosures around the county to help steer him away from pets and livestock,” said Martins.

Sarah Phelps is an editor and reporter. She was raised in Kenwood and has a BA from Loyola Marymount University.

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