(Reuters) - Close-range photos of one of the mountain lions in a group being tracked by biologists in Southern California show her feasting on a deer kill in the Santa Susana Mountains just north of Los Angeles.
The mountain lion, identified as P-35, can be seen staring into a motion-activated camera as she tucks into the deer carcass. She licks her nose after rising from the kill, and after she moves on a bear and cub move in to eat the remains.
Biologists are studying mountain lions in Southern California in part to understand how encroachment of urban areas on their natural habitat affects the large cats.
They installed the camera to see if P-35's kitten, born last summer, was in tow. It was not seen in photos, National Park Service spokesman Zach Behrens said.
"That kitten most likely did not make it," he said.
The pictures, released last month, were taken in the Santa Susana Mountains roughly 30 miles (48 kms) northwest of the Los Angeles Zoo, where another lion in the group, P-22, is suspected of mauling to death a 14-year-old koala.
P-22 gained fame after being photographed striding past the landmark Hollywood sign, and touched off a media frenzy last year after he was discovered hiding in the crawl space under a Los Angeles house. He stole away in the dead of night.
(Reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; Editing by Toni Reinhold)