…and apparently, Momma is teaching her kiddies how to use…the “kill bite”.
With an adorably wrinkled nose, a mountain lion cub honed her hunting skills earlier this month on a dead mule deer caught by mom in California’s Malibu Creek State Park.
The female mountain lion cub, called P-28 by wildlife biologists, tested her “kill bite” on the deer’s neck, while her brother, dubbed P-30, attacked the rest of the carcass. A remotely activated camera captured the nighttime feast for researchers who are tracking the cougar family at the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. (Mountain lion and cougar are two names for the same animal.)
Biologists set up the DSLR camera at the deer kill site during the day, then recovered more than 350 images after the family finished feeding on the carcass, which took two days.
The kittens seen in the pictures are about 10 months old and were tagged with trackers when they were three weeks old. Their mother, P-13, is wearing a GPS collar.
Mule deer are a popular menu item for Santa Monica mountain lions. The National Park Service has tracked more than 30 mountain lions in the Santa Monica Mountains since 2002, part of a long-term study monitoring the health of the cougar population here. Of the 400 kills discovered during the study, more than 95 percent have been mule deer, said park spokeswoman Kate Kuykendall.
Mountain lions are not an endangered species in California, and the Santa Monica park offers good habitat for the charismatic cats. The park’s adult mountain lion population is currently estimated at 15 adults.
This definitely seems to be more of a “they’re more in danger from us than we are from them scenario.” Still, if you’re hiking up in those hills. (And you’ll notice that Is It Any Good isn’t exactly the outdoorsy type), just be careful.