A mountain lion discovered Monday afternoon under a Southern California hillside home was back on the move Tuesday after slipping out from under the house's crawl space and back into Los Angeles' Griffith Park, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Home security technicians encountered the whiskered intruder while installing equipment at a home in Los Feliz. But it wasn't just any mountain lion -- officials determined the big cat was famous research animal P-22 who was in the home's crawl space. The mountain lion remained at the house, monitored by California Fish and Wildlife officials, into the late hours of Monday and likely left some time early Tuesday morning.
"It's got to be at least 150 pounds!" said Jason Archinaco, the owner of the home as he looked at the giant cat lodged in the small space of his home.
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"(The technician) came face-to-face with it, and he was horrified, and who can blame him? My husband said he came running through the house white-faced," Archinaco's wife Paula said.
He said the city's animal control officers couldn't remove the wildcat because it's too large. California Fish and Wildlife had attempted to coax him out with a tennis ball launcher in the hope he would run back to the mountains, however it failed to work. They even tried shooting a few beanbag rounds into the area in an attempt to get him out.
The animal remained under the house, despite the area being cleared overnight in an attempt to let him come out on his own free from distractions under cover of darkness. Game wardens from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife couldn't see any signs of the big cat, including alerts from its electronic monitor, in the crawl space as of 9 a.m.
At about 9:30 a.m., the department tweeted, "Official all-clear. No sign of #p22. The cougar has left the building." The lion's radio telemetry monitoring device later showed it had returned to the 4,300-acre Griffith Park.
The home, in the 2700 block of Glendower Avenue, is close to Griffith Park, where P-22 lives. He was treated for poisoning and mange last year but appeared OK after treatment. P-22 made Griffith Park his home three years ago after crossing two freeways from the Santa Monica mountains.
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.