Mountain Lion Hit by Car Recovers at San Diego Humane Society

| March 2, 2024 | 0 Comments

A young male mountain lion has a second chance at life after being hit by a vehicle the night before Thanksgiving and found on the side of a road in Simi Valley. Local animal services alerted California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), who quickly transported the cub to Santa Clarita where veterinarians provided initial medical support overnight. The five-month-old cub was then transported to San Diego Humane Society’s Ramona Wildlife Center for care by its Project Wildlife team early the next morning, Thanksgiving Day — Nov. 23, 2023.

X-rays on Nov. 24, 2023, showed the mountain lion had a severely fractured hind leg. He was treated for dehydration, malnourishment and given a temporary splint to support his broken bones. Then, on Nov. 27, 2023, the veterinary team carefully repaired the animal’s left tibia, using a metal plate and 10 screws to realign the bones. For the next three weeks, the mountain lion was monitored via cameras in an indoor hospital enclosure, limiting human interaction and movement that could risk damage to the surgery site. On Dec. 1, 2023, veterinarians performed a second surgery to replace the screws for shorter screws. The cub’s prognosis remained guarded until his third sedated surgery recheck, on Dec. 18, 2023, when veterinarians decided he was ready to move to an outdoor enclosure for continued rehabilitation.

The outdoor enclosure is covered with vegetation, rocky outcroppings and areas for the cub to explore and regain his strength. “It’s important he has minimal contact with the rehab specialists to ensure he does not get used to human presence,” said Andy Blue, campus director at San Diego Humane Society’s Ramona Wildlife Center. “We monitor him with cameras daily and are pleased to see he is self-limiting his activities while healing from his injury.”

During a sedated recheck on Jan. 26, 2024, wildlife veterinarians confirmed the fracture is healing well and the mountain lion is gaining weight, now weighing 25.2 lbs. Treatment of this animal has been a collaboration between San Diego Humane Society’s Project Wildlife veterinarians and shelter veterinarians. Mountain lions are apex predators, so it is crucial for this cub to be fully recovered and able to survive and hunt on his own. In the wild, mountain lion cubs may stay with their mothers up to 26 months, but usually separate after about 15 months.

San Diego Humane Society’s Project Wildlife team is working closely under guidance from CDFW to determine next steps for the mountain lion. If he is releasable to the wild, he will be outfitted with a satellite GPS collar for tracking to help ensure his future health and wellbeing.

Rescuing and rehabilitating this mountain lion takes a village. From CDFW, to Dr. Rachel Sachar of Twin Oaks Equine and Exotics Service, and Dr. Stephen Klause of Veterinary Wildlife and Exotics who provided initial medical support overnight in Santa Clarita, to San Diego Humane Society’s Project Wildlife Program.

San Diego Humane Society’s Project Wildlife program is the primary resource for wild animal rehabilitation and conservation education in San Diego County. Each year, SDHS gives more than 10,000 injured, orphaned and sick wild animals a second chance. At the Ramona Campus, which they have been operating since 2020, SDHS specializes in caring for native apex predators and birds of prey, including hawks, owls, eagles, coyotes, bears, bobcats and, under special case-by-case authorization, mountain lions.

The young male mountain lion is recovering from a severely fractured hind leg. Photo is courtesy of the San Diego Humane Society.

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