P-22 has died, a mountain lion who took up residence in Griffith Park in LA and became famous. P-22 contributed to the 2016 LA vs SF City Nature Challenge, via Miguel Ordeñana. Miguel is a friend and the citizen science coordinator for the LA natural history museum, and is quoted several times in the following media articles about P-22’s final days. Here are the five P-22 observations from camera traps that Miguel has shared on iNat: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?place_id=any&q=P-22&taxon_id=42007
It was quite a run! When our Griffith Park Connectivity Study (myself, Miguel Ordeñana, and Erin Boydston) found the first photo of what would become P-22, we couldn’t imagine it would become an emissary for not only local conservation, but would inspire people all over the world in terms of how nature can persist within the city.
It’s also been interesting to watch how it’s affected other people, many of whom developed a close bond with P-22, similar, probably, to the way people bond with their pets. Obviously he wasn’t anyone’s pet, but did encourage unique human-wildlife connections. And there’s the annual P-22 Day at Griffith Park which is basically an annual nature festival at a park where nature had been ignored pretty much since it’s founding.
I was also delighted to see how the LA Co. Museum of Natural History dedicated a corner of the museum’s “Urban Nature Lab” to P-22, showing our initial camera trap photo, and showing the overhead video of cars passing on freeway lanes (a la “Frogger”).
P-22 won’t be the last lion to make it to the park - un-collared animals are still being picked up on Ring cameras from the hills to the west of the park, and it’s just a matter of time until another one follows a herd of deer east into the park.
“injuries that likely stemmed from being hit by a car”
Defensive driving courses still teach their students to go ahead and hit animals instead of trying to avoid them. Given that road kills are also a threat to Florida panthers, when are we going to start holding them culpable under wildlife protection laws?
Oof. That’s seriously depressing. People seriously, seriously, need to learn to slow down at night when their visibility is poor and always be on the lookout for animals in the woods. And to not tailgate people, especially, in those conditions - I was on a motorcycle in the country once and I had to thread the needle of slowing down enough to not hit a deer that bounced out in front of me, but not so much that the pickup that was tailgating me ran me over. Shits not fun. There are so many poor drivers out there don’t have any sort of situational awareness, and they’re actively detrimental to animals and to other drivers both
I don’t think the driver was necessarily a bad driver. I’ve had rabbits and once even a badger literally jump under my tire while driving before, and i wasn’t going particularly fast. Sometimes deer literally jump into the side of cars and the driver can’t even see them. I imagine P22 was still capable of very rapid movement but had his senses and perception dulled by age and probably anticoagulant poisoning… plus habituation to vehicles in his environment. he may have literally jumped in front of a car on a freeway. Obviously he survived, so probably was able to run away at least a few hundred yards immediately even if the driver stopped to look, which isn’t always possible on LA freeways. It may have been a horrible aggressive driver, a drunk driver, or even one of those awful people who run down animals on purpose, but it may have been a totally unavoidable thing.
I spent many years working in that area, and while i don’t live or work near there any more, i did follow the initial part of the study (P1 had quite a story!) and had been reading about P22. It was amazing he did live as long as he did there without dying or leaving, and sad he died, but it doesn’t even sound like an untimely death for his species in terms of age. It does weird me out a bit that he was kind of discussed as a pet, and i prefer him eulogized as a fierce survivor not some sort of feral poodle that roamed the Hollywood Hills, (like honestly i’d imagine he’d rather hide and die alone under a laurel sumac bush than captured by humans) but given the alternatives i am glad so many people cared about him. RIP P-22, survivor in what in many ways is the harshest landscape this planet has to offer.