“Big Cats of the Mountains” Walk and Talk on April 5, 2014

They are so close…but seldom seen. And when a mountain lion makes an appearance here in SoCal, it becomes (for better or worse) a media event. Looking past the hype and hoopla about our urban felines, Coral O’Riley of the Santa Monica Mountains Recreational Area is presenting a one-day only walk and talk about “Big Cats of the Mountains” on April 5 at 10:30 a.m.

“Our researchers are tracking about 13 mountain lions in the local mountains,” says O Riley who will lead the program with plenty of hands-on materials: tracker props, tracking collars, deer skin, plaster casts and trail cameras.

O’Riley says she’ll talk about all the lions tracked by NPS biologists but will especially tell the story of two of the more famous mountain lions – P1 (the first cat recorded and tracked in 2001) and P22 (the ones currently living in Griffith Park).  P1 was a muy macho male who guarded his territory with an iron claw and even killed his mate, P2 that was probably trying to protect their cubs. Males like to be the only ones around is the theory and even juniors weren’t safe from P1. “He was the king for a long time,” says O’Riley who added that while cars certainly kill local lions trying to cross freeways, the fighting between alpha males can also be a factor in deaths as well.

“They need space, 300 miles is what they usually require,” says O’Riley.

That quest for a territory to call home is probably why P22 journeyed from the Santa Monica Mountains to Griffith Park.  He’s the only cat in that urban park and researchers are wondering if he’ll stay or go in search of a mate (he’s getting to be that age).  O’Riley will also talk about the cubs recently born and what researchers are discovering about their lives in the mountains.

Stories, props and a short 1.5 hike. Sounds like a great Saturday morning. And it’s all free.

Big Cats of the Mountains, 10:30am, Santa Monica Mountains Interagency Visitor Center, (near Malibu Creek State Park). For more information call (805) 370-2301.

— Brenda Rees