Photos: LA’s elusive cougars

The December cover of National Geographic.
The December cover of National Geographic.

If you’ve hiked in Los Angeles, you’ve probably been on the lookout for mountain lions. Also known as cougars, the cats are actually pretty hard to find. Photographer Steve Winter teamed up with biologist Jeff Sikich in LA. Together they figured out a way to photograph the cats for a series called Ghost Cats, which appears in the December issue of National Geographic. The ultimate goal was to capture a cougar in the same frame as the Hollywood sign. Mission accomplished. Below, Warren talk to Winter about his project.[soundcloud id=’120957655′]

Photo by Steve Winter/National Geographic A hidden camera records Hollywood’s most reclusive star—this male cougar first seen in Griffith Park in Los Angeles almost two years ago. A radio collar tracks his moves, but residents see scant sign of him.
A hidden camera records Hollywood’s most reclusive star—this male cougar first seen in Griffith Park in Los Angeles almost two years ago. A radio collar tracks his moves, but residents see scant sign of him. Photo by Steve Winter/National Geographic
Photographed on a ridge above Los Angeles, a male cougar labeled P22 made his way from the Santa Monica Mountains to Griffith Park—an island of habitat surrounded by homes and highways.
Photographed on a ridge above Los Angeles, a male cougar labeled P22 made his way from the Santa Monica Mountains to Griffith Park—an island of habitat surrounded by homes and highways. Photo by Steve Winter/National Geographic
Photo by Steve Winter/National Geographic Perched atop dinner, this four-month-old kitten survived a wolf attack that killed two littermates, earning her the nickname bestowed by Teton Cougar Project researchers: Lucky.
Perched atop dinner, this four-month-old kitten survived a wolf attack that killed two littermates, earning her the nickname bestowed by Teton Cougar Project researchers: Lucky. Photo by Steve Winter/National Geographic