Apr 14, 2015 12:55 PM

Official: Cougar has left crawl space under Los Angeles home

The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES (AP) A celebrity mountain lion that lounged under a home for hours and refused to budge for bean bags, tennis balls and prods has wandered out on its own, wildlife officials said Tuesday.

A thorough check turned up no sign of the big cat known as P-22 under the residence in the hilly Los Feliz neighborhood, said Lt. J.C. Healy of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Officials from the National Park Service were trying to pick up a signal from the electronic beacon on the cougar's collar to determine its whereabouts.

Homeowner Rachel Archinaco told Los Angeles television station KABC that workers installing a home security system encountered the cougar in a crawl space around noon Monday.

"The one worker came sprinting through our house, white-faced, shouting, 'There's a mountain lion under your house!'" she said.

The animal, which has a red ear tag, normally lives in Griffith Park, which is right next to the neighborhood featuring hillsides covered in thick brush. It arrived in the area several years ago from the western slopes of the Santa Monica Mountains and crossed two freeways to get there.

National Geographic famously photographed P-22 in 2013 with the Hollywood sign in the background, and several sharp photographs from a remote camera in Griffith Park captured the cat last year.

He survived mange and a meal of rat poison last year to become apparently healthy again.

At the home, wildlife officials cleared most media and gawkers away after darkness fell, then used several techniques to try to get him to move.

They poked him gently with a long prod, but that did little other than temporarily lose the pricey GoPro camera they had attached to the end of it.

They fired a tennis ball cannon into the crawl space with hopes that at least the noise and commotion would scare him out, a tactic that often works with coyotes.

They then fired small bean bags, the same kind police sometimes use for human crowd control, toward the cat.

All the tactics, shown live on streaming video, drew mild reactions from P-22 none coming close to drawing him out or even getting him to move much.

Archinaco's husband, Jason, said the couple has three ordinary house cats and had thought about adding to their numbers.

"My wife wanted a fourth one," he said, "but not this way."


Associated Press writer Christopher Weber contributed.


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