Remote cameras set up in the southern California mountainside recently captured some amazing – and somewhat disturbing – images of two young cougars and their mother feasting on a mule deer. The adult female, known as P-13, and her 10-month-old kittens, P-28 (a female) and P-30 (a male), spent two nights dining on the ill-fated deer in Malibu Creek State Park.
The Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, which is a unit of the National Park Service, posted the photos on its Facebook page with this note. “*WARNING*: these photos depict mountain lions eating a deer and may be disturbing for some people.”
So don’t say we didn’t warn you.
This is P-13, the mother.
This is P-28 licking her chops.
This is P-30, who clearly doesn’t like an audience during mealtime, with his mom in the background.
National Park officials have been studying mountain lion behaviour in the region since 2002. They have noticed that the animals are hemmed in by development and geography and are often victims of vehicles. There are perhaps 15 adults in the Santa Monica Mountains, according to biologists. Experts have also investigated more than 400 kill sites and found that mule deer accounted for 95 per cent of mountain lion kills.
The photos of the elusive creatures are a real treat for scientists – and the public. National Park Service biologist Jeff Sikich told the Los Angeles Times this week that the kittens, who were tagged when they were three weeks old, but hadn’t been seen until now, appear healthy and “nice and fat.”
“Mom seems to be finding deer and prey for them,” he told the newspaper.
The remote camera, set up at the site after the deer was killed, snapped more than 350 photos.