Young mountain lion caught in Newport Beach released in Santa Ana Mountains

David González Image
Tuesday, May 24, 2022
Mountain lion caught in Newport Beach released in Santa Ana Mountains
A mountain lion spotted in the streets of Newport Beach just days ago is on the go again. One wildlife expert tracking the cougar explains why its odds for survival are not very good.

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. (KABC) -- Since being collared in March, a young mountain lion known as M317 has been tracked across Orange County.

Most recently, he was spotted roaming a Newport Beach community on Friday.

"They tend to stay on the move and M317 was like that. He was constantly on the move after we collared him," said Dr. Winston Vickers, a veterinarian with UC Davis Wildlife Health Center.

M317 was eventually tranquilized by animal control and moved to a more suitable habitat near the top crest of the Santa Ana mountains.

Vickers is monitoring the big cat.

RELATED: Mountain lion captured after roaming Newport Beach neighborhood

A mountain lion spotted roaming around a Newport Beach neighborhood Friday afternoon was finally captured by authorities, but not before putting residents on high alert.

He said M317 appears to be healthy despite all his recent adventures.

"They're almost always traveling through unfamiliar terrain as well, which raises the risk for the animal when they encounter highways like the interstates he's crossed," Vickers said.

He said it is not uncommon for the species to travel long distances.

He said in the last two months M317 has traversed more 100 miles and encountered a lot of roadblocks.

"The 91 freeway, he's crossed the 241 toll road, he's crossed Interstate 5, plus innumerable other roads and busy streets," Vickers said.

Vickers said unfortunately the survival rate for these type of animals in Southern California is low because of the hazards they face.

"He's got the odds a bit against him or at least more in the 50/50 range," he said.

Vickers said mountain lions can live up to 13 years in the wild.

He hopes M317 can find a territory out in the mountains to call home.