Los Angeles' famous mountain lion, P-22, was neutralized in a residential neighborhood by wildlife officers on Dec. 12 after attacking a neighborhood dog. (Video: The Washington Post)
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A mountain lion who made a name for himself in Hollywood, navigating busy freeways and establishing a home range in a sprawling city park, was captured by California wildlife authorities Monday after he killed a dog being walked near a park.

P-22, as he is known, was tranquilized by wildlife officers, who found him in a residential neighborhood in the Los Feliz area, south of Griffith Park. He was taken to a care facility for wild animals for a full health evaluation after authorities received an anonymous tip that he may have been struck by a vehicle.

“After an initial assessment by qualified veterinarians, the lion was deemed to be in stable condition and is undergoing additional veterinary evaluation,” the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the National Park Service said in a news release.

Resident Sarah Picchi was working from home when her doorbell rang just before 11 a.m. “There’s a lion in your backyard,” the wildlife officer at the other end of the line declared. The house is nestled on a quarter-acre section of Los Angeles hillside, covered in trees and bushes — typical of the city’s mix of wilderness and urban areas.

Picchi and her husband watched from their balcony as a group of wildlife officers cautiously approached the mountain lion with a tranquilizer gun, careful not to startle the animal, which was sheltering behind some bushes in the corner of the yard.

Once he was subdued, wildlife officers checked to make sure he was breathing okay, took his temperature and examined his teeth, before carrying him on a tarp to an awaiting vehicle, she said. By 11:32 a.m., he had been loaded into a container and was gone, leaving Picchi to contemplate her brush with a Los Angeles legend.

“It was by far my most interesting Zoom interruption and work-from-home day ever,” she recalled over the phone on Monday evening. “It’s cool to be part of L.A. history.”

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For years, P-22 has made the nearby Griffith Park his home, strutting around with the Hollywood sign in the background and endearing himself to many Los Angeles residents.

Wildlife officials believe he came from the Santa Monica Mountains, somehow crossed the 101 and 405 freeways, and entered the park in February 2012. He established what wildlife experts say is the smallest known home range ever recorded for a male mountain lion.

Famous mountain lion P-22 made himself right at home under a Los Angeles porch

Recently though, authorities have become increasingly worried about his behavior. He is estimated to be about 12 years old — which wildlife officials said is “remarkably old” for a cat in the wild. Last week, they announced plans to capture the mountain lion and bring him in for a medical examination. Lashing out and killing a Chihuahua being walked by its owner in the Hollywood Hills last month indicated he may be in distress, officials said in a Dec. 8 news release.

“This is an unprecedented situation in which a mountain lion has continued to survive in such an urban setting. As P-22 has aged, however, the challenges associated with living on an island of habitat seem to be increasing and scientists are noting a recent change in his behavior,” officials said last week. “This underscores the consequences of a lack of habitat connectivity for mountain lions and all wildlife.”

Normally, the mountain lion — who shot to global fame after being captured on hidden camera by National Geographic a decade ago, skulking beneath the Hollywood sign — would hunt deer and coyotes.

The recent incident in which he killed a pet dog and another suspected attack in which a Chihuahua was injured are possible signs of his frailty, wildlife experts say. In the latter incident, the dog’s owner reportedly fought off the cougar.

“P-22 has always been in an unprecedented situation. Never has a mountain lion lived in such an urban setting in one of the world’s most populated cities,” Beth Pratt, a regional director for the National Wildlife Federation, said in a recent statement. “He likely would not have lived this long if he didn’t reside on an urban island, as he probably would have been displaced by a younger male mountain lion seeking territory as is more typical.”

Following his capture, biologists will determine the best next steps for the animal, while considering the safety of the surrounding communities, California wildlife officials said Monday.

Picchi, a dog owner herself, said she can empathize with the concerns of some city residents, but she hopes the mountain lion doesn’t end his days in captivity.

“He has nine miles to roam [in Griffith Park] and he’s supposed to have, like, 150,” she said. “But the idea of going, even from having nine miles of freedom, to captivity, that just sounds really awful and sad.”