Mountain Lion In Los Angeles: Everything You Need To Know

Last Updated on December 21, 2023 by Amin Tawar

Mountain Lion In Los Angeles
Mountain Lion In Los Angeles: Everything You Need To Know

Though we all know Los Angeles as the entertainment capital of the world, did you know that the state is home to about 500 different animal species? 

Yes. This bustling city is home to a variety of wildlife. One of the most fascinating animals that can be found in LA is the Mountain lion. 

Though these majestic creatures are elusive, you may catch a glimpse of them when on a hike or driving on the freeway, especially nearby Santa Monica Mountains where they are known to reside. 

By knowing about these creatures, you can improve your awareness and stay safe when enjoying the outdoors by taking precautions to avoid encounters. It’s always better to be prepared and informed when sharing space with any wild animal including mountain lions. 

Below I’ve explained all the things you need to know about the mountain lions in LA.

Are There Mountain Lions in Los Angeles?

Yes, there are mountain lions in Los Angeles. Generally, cities like LA wouldn’t inhabit diverse wildlife due to the rapid urbanization of the area especially mountain lions which are apex predators. However, the mountain lions of LA are very adaptable and resilient and can not only live but also thrive in such environments. 

Most of the mountain lions live in the Santa Monica Mountains. The mountain lion range also includes various parks like Malibu Creek State Park, Topanga State Park, and the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.

Though the mountain lions in LA are prominently found in these mountains, there have been occasional sightings of these magnificent creatures in other parts of the city as well. 

While these sightings are rare and typically are due to young males who are migrating in search of new territory, it is important to be always vigilant and keep a safe distance when encountering them. Do enjoy the view but remember to respect the wild animals.

How Common Are Mountain Lions in Los Angeles?

Although mountain lions are present in the Santa Monica Mountains of LA, they are not common. As per estimates, only 10-15 mountain lions are found living in the mountains which is considered a very small population. 

Let’s dive into the world of mountain lions in Los Angeles and break down the numbers and rarity:

Population Perspectives:

  • Headcount Estimate: We’re looking at around 20 to 25 mountain lions doing their thing in and around the city. It’s not exactly a bustling feline metropolis.
  • Hot Spots: Most of these cool cats call the Santa Monica Mountains home, just northwest of the glitz and glam of Los Angeles.
  • Steady Numbers: The mountain lion community here has kept it consistent for about four decades (40 years). Talk about stability in the wild.

Encounter Rarity:

  • Ghost Cats: Mountain lions are like the Houdinis of the wild – extremely elusive and solitary. So, sightings are about as rare as finding a four-leaf clover in a haystack.
  • Human Harmony: Good news for us bipeds – there’s never been a recorded fatal mountain lion attack in Los Angeles County. They might be stealthy, but they’re not looking to tango with humans.
  • Wilderness Clues: Forget celebrity sightings; the most common interaction here is stumbling upon tracks or scat in the wilderness. It’s like the mountain lions leaving their autographs in nature.

Comparison to other wildlife:

  • Deer Dominance: If you’re talking about common sightings, deer take the crown, numbering in the thousands in the area. They’re practically the rock stars of the local wildlife scene.
  • Coyote Competition: Even the adaptable coyotes outshine the mountain lions in terms of visibility. They’ve aced the urban game and are more frequently spotted doing their city slicker routine.

The Big Picture:

  • Rare but Real: While mountain lions aren’t taking a stroll down Hollywood Boulevard, they’re around. Encounters are like finding a hidden gem, and with a sprinkle of precautions, you can soak in the outdoor vibes and appreciate these elusive neighbors without breaking a sweat.

What Mountain Lion Lived in Los Angeles?

Mountain Lion In Los Angeles
Mountain Lion In Los Angeles: Everything You Need To Know

As explained before, most of the mountain lions in LA are found in Santa Monica Mountains. However, a few lions may also disperse to nearby locations in search of prey or to establish new territory. One such mountain lion was P-22. It was a symbol of hope for conservationists and an inspiration for the entire LA city. 

Let’s delve into the compelling tale of P-22 and his impactful legacy:

P-22’s Journey:

  • Born to Roam: Estimated to enter the world in 2009, P-22 embarked on an extraordinary adventure, defying the odds by traversing two major freeways to grace Griffith Park in 2012.
  • Urban Refuge: In this 4,210-acre urban oasis, P-22 found his haven, a place teeming with the sustenance and shelter he needed to flourish.
  • Majestic Encounters: P-22 became a regular VIP at Griffith Park, delighting visitors with his majestic presence and occasionally posing for the cameras.
  • Beyond Wildlife: P-22’s narrative transcended the typical wildlife script, becoming a symbol sparking conversations about coexistence, conservation, and safeguarding natural spaces in the heart of a bustling city.

P-22’s Legacy:

  • Tragic Farewell: In 2022, P-22’s journey was tragically cut short when he was struck by a vehicle. His untimely departure left a void felt deeply by the city.
  • Legacy in Action: Even in his absence, P-22 continues to inspire. His tale ignited numerous conservation initiatives, notably the creation of wildlife corridors to link fragmented habitats, ensuring safe passage for fellow mountain lions.
  • Educator and Muse: P-22’s story persists as an educational force, reminding us of the imperative to protect these magnificent creatures and the vital roles they play in our ecosystem.

Beyond the Spotlight:

  • P-22’s Comrades: While P-22 stood out, he wasn’t a solo act. A small community of around 20-25 mountain lions call the Santa Monica Mountains and nearby areas home.
  • Shared Landscape: Understanding and respecting their presence is key for both human and wildlife safety. By adopting responsible hiking practices and educating ourselves about these apex predators, we pave the way for peaceful coexistence in our shared urban landscape.
  • Enduring Lesson: P-22’s narrative is a powerful reminder that nature perseveres even in the heart of a metropolis. His legacy lives on in the hearts of Angelenos, a continuous source of inspiration propelling efforts to protect these awe-inspiring creatures for the generations yet to come.

Also Check Our Guide On Mountain Lions IN US

How Big Are Mountain Lions Los Angeles?

In general, mountain lions in LA are of similar size to other mountain lions found throughout their range. There are however further studies suggesting that mountain lions in LA might be smaller than others which may be due to various factors like genetics and prey availability.

  • Average Dimensions:
    • Adult males: Adult males usually stand tall at 24-35 inches at the shoulder, tipping the scales at 117 to 220 pounds. Lengthwise, they stretch between 6 feet 6 inches to 9 feet, tail included.
    • Adult females: Adult females, a bit smaller on average, stand around 20-28 inches at the shoulder, carrying a weight of 64 to 141 pounds. Their total length spans roughly 4 feet 11 inches to 8 feet, tail making up a chunk of that.
  • Factors Affecting Size:
    • Age Matters: Like any of us, mountain lions start small. Younger ones are naturally pint-sized and reach their full dimensions around 2-3 years old.
    • Sex: As you might expect, the males tend to be the larger than the females.
    • Habitat and Diet: A mountain lion’s stomping ground and menu choices matter. Those in plush, prey-filled areas tend to be the heavyweight champs compared to their less fortunate counterparts.
  • Comparison to Other Big Cats:
    • Among the big cats in the Americas, mountain lions claim the silver medal, right after jaguars.
    • Globally, they secure the fourth spot in the size hierarchy, standing proud behind lions, tigers, and jaguars.

So, the mountain lions in Los Angeles come in a variety of sizes, each with its own unique story told in paws, tails, and fur. They might not be the biggest cats on the planet, but they sure know how to hold their own in the wild cityscape.

What Do Mountain Lions Eat in Los Angeles?

Like most of the mountain lions in other regions, Mountain lions in Los Angeles are carnivores. Most of their diet includes a variety of prey like elk, deer, bighorn sheep, and small mammals like rodents, and rabbits. Additionally, in Santa Monica Mountains, mountain lions often prey on coyotes. 

Dining Preferences of Los Angeles Mountain Lions:

  1. Deer:
    • Culinary Mainstay: About 87% of the prey analyzed in the Santa Monica Mountains were mule deer, a species well-adapted to the region’s terrain.
    • Efficient hunters: Mountain lions are no picky eaters; they’ll take down a deer much larger than themselves, ensuring a well-fed feast lasting several days.
    • Opportunistic eaters: When deer are playing hard to get, mountain lions switch to Plan B. Opportunistic much? They’ll snack on mammals like coyotes, raccoons, rabbits, and even the little guys, rodents.
  2. Beyond Deer Delicacies:
    • Petite Prey: Mountain lions occasionally go for smaller fare – think squirrels, birds, and reptiles. It’s like a little appetizer before the main course.
    • Scavenger Skills: Waste not, want not. Mountain lions aren’t shy about scavenging on leftovers from fellow predators or even roadkill, especially when the pantry’s looking a bit bare.
  3. Adapting to the Urban Landscape:
    • Habitat Hotspots: Living in the urban sprawl of Los Angeles? No problem. Mountain lions hunt in canyons, parks, and yes, even backyards. They’re the ultimate urban foragers.
    • Domestic Dilemmas: Pets or livestock might find themselves on the menu, although it’s not the ideal situation and often leads to human-mountain lions conflict.
    • Risk and Reward Game: Venturing into the city increases the odds of bumping into humans, but it’s a calculated risk. More diverse prey options are the reward.
  4. Mountain Lion Diet Research:
    • Scat and Kill Site Chronicles: The National Park Service and organization have been on a diet research spree. By analyzing mountain lion poop and their hunting grounds, they’re unraveling the culinary mysteries of these urban prowlers.
    • Ecosystem Impact 101: This research isn’t just about satisfying curiosity; it’s crucial for understanding how mountain lions influence the local ecosystem. In a city that never sleeps and rapidly transforms, it’s the key to ensuring these majestic hunters stick around.

Does Beverly Hills Have Mountain Lions?

Beverly Hills doesn’t have an established population of mountain lions. As it is close to Santa Monica Mountains, where the mountain lions are known to live, there have been few sightings of these creatures in the Beverly Hill residential area. This is mostly from a mountain lion dispersed from Santa Monica mountains in search of prey or to establish a territory.

While you may not see a mountain lion ever in LA, it is always important to be cautious and aware. And if you do spot one, keep a safe distance and avoid approaching or harassing the animal in any way.

Also Check Our Guide On Mountain Lion In Pennsylvania

Can I Buy Mountain Lion in Los Angeles?

No, you can’t buy or own a mountain lion in Los Angeles or anywhere else in U.S. Californian law prohibits the possession of any wild animal for various reasons:

  1. Wildlife Conservation Laws:
    • Protected Status: Mountain lions are safeguarded under both the California Endangered Species Act and the federal Endangered Species Act. These laws are in place to preserve their population and prevent any form of exploitation. Buying or selling them not only contributes to their decline but could also breach these crucial conservation laws.
  2. Public Safety Priorities:
    • Wild Nature: Mountain lions are untamed creatures with the potential to be dangerous to humans. Allowing private ownership, especially in a densely populated city like Los Angeles, poses a significant threat to public safety.
  3. Animal Welfare Concerns:
    • Not Domesticated: Mountain lions are not domesticated animals; they require specialized care and large enclosures. Keeping them in captivity can be detrimental to their physical and mental well-being.
  4. Environmental Impact:
    • Ecosystem Harmony: Introducing mountain lions into areas where they do not naturally belong can disrupt the local ecosystem and harm other wildlife populations. Their presence is intricately linked to the delicate balance of the environment.
  5. Penalties for Violation: Violating the laws protecting mountain lions can lead to severe penalties:


And that was everything you need to know about the Mountain Lion in LA. I hope this article answered all your queries.

Thank You For Reading!


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