An unusual sight was caught on camera by surprised residents Tuesday night when a mountain lion visited Silver Lake and other neighborhoods north of downtown Los Angeles.
The mountain lion, famed P-22, was wearing a tracking collar. Kathleen Lalap provided NBCLA with video of the big cat in a driveway in the Westerly Terrace neighborhood.
"My friend and I were stunned while sitting in my car,” she wrote.
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The mountain lion walked toward the car, then casually strutted between it and a minivan and onto the street.
The sighting marks a visit outside P-22’s usual safe area to the north in the wilderness of Griffith Park and the Hollywood Hills, where several sightings have been reported in bordering residential areas over the past decade. He hid under a house once in nearby Los Feliz, but residents said Tuesday’s sighting caught them by surprise.
Another Tuesday sighting was in the Berkeley Circle area, not far from Silver Lake Boulevard, according to the Los Angeles Times. Marianna Palka told the times she hd never seen a mountain in the area. Another Berkeley Circle resident told the Times he saw what he thought was a coyotes on a neighbor’s doorbell camera.
“We’re just standing there looking at each other and the light goes off,” Chris Blim said. “The only thing you see is the eyes, and that’s when the heart drops. This is not a house cat.”
There are no known mountain lions other than P-22 roaming the wilderness area in and around Griffith Park. On Thursday, authorities tracking P-22 said he appeared to be back in the park.
Researchers believe P-22 came from the Santa Monica Mountains. He somehow crossed the 405 and 101 freeways into Griffith Park about 10 years ago. Silver Lake is between Griffith Park and downtown Los Angeles.
The National Park Service tracks mountain lions to study how they survive in urbanized landscapes. The GPS radio collars provide researchers with detailed information about the mysterious big cats.
Los Angeles and Mumbai are the only two megacities in the world that have big cats living within the city limits, according to the NPS.
There are about 4,000 to 6,000 mountain lions in California, but wildlife officials call that a crude estimate without an ongoing statewide study. More than half of the state is considered prime habitat for the big cats, which can be found wherever deer are present.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife receives hundreds of mountain lion sighting reports each year. Few result in mountain lions being identified as posing an imminent threat to public safety, the department said. Mountain lion attacks on humans are extremely rare and their nature is to avoid humans.
Here's a full list of recommendations from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife of what to do during a mountain lion encounter:
- Do not hike, bike, or jog alone. Stay alert on trails.
- Avoid hiking or jogging when mountain lions are most active – dawn, dusk, and at night.
- Keep a close watch on small children.
- Off leash dogs on trails are at increased risk of becoming prey for a mountain lion.
- Never approach a mountain lion. Give them an escape route.
- DO NOT RUN. Stay calm. Running may trigger chase, catch and kill response. Do not turn your back. Face the animal, make noise and try to look bigger by waving your arms, or opening your jacket if wearing one; throw rocks or other objects. Pick up small children.
- Do not crouch down or bend over. Squatting puts you in a vulnerable position of appearing much like a 4-legged prey animal.
- Be vocal; however, speak calmly and do not use high pitched tones or high pitch screams.
- Teach others how to behave during an encounter. Anyone who runs may initiate an attack.
- If a lion attacks, fight back. Research on mountain lion attacks suggests that many potential victims have fought back successfully with rocks, sticks, garden tools, even an ink pen or bare hands. Try to stay on your feet. If knocked down, try to protect head and neck.
- If a mountain lion attacks a person, immediately call 911.
- Report unusual mountain lion behavior to your local CDFW regional office.