Incredible photos and footage captured last week in Los Angeles County, California show a mountain lion digging up a stashed deer and pulling it away for dinner.

As you might have guessed by the collar around his neck, this big cat isn't a stranger. He goes by the name of P-41, and has been on the radar of the National Park Service since he was first captured in 2015 – the first mountain lion documented living in the Verdugo Mountains. In fact, Johanna Turner, one of the residents who caught this new footage, was the one who originally discovered P-41.

Southern California is famously home to a population of "urban" mountain lions, over 50 of which have been collared and named by local researchers. In the densely developed region, the cats find themselves restricted to habitats bordered by major roads and built-up areas, leaving them with precariously small territories.

Turner and fellow photographer Dan Potter are both part of the Save LA Cougars campaign, whose mission is to help the mountain lions navigate this risky terrain safely. To this effect, the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, the National Park Service and the California Department of Transportation have come together to create a wildlife crossing over the ten lanes of the 101 Freeway, one of the biggest obstacles for local wildlife.

"The 101 is such a huge barrier, the animals don't even try to cross it," explains Beth Pratt-Bergstrom, NWF California Director. "They simply can't get across it. It's the biggest genetic barrier of all the freeways in this area."

Adult mountain lions can grow to reach 80 kilograms (180lbs), and their limited movement has had a lot of negative consequences. Since the cats can't disperse out of each other's way, they end up fighting more often, and with little access to other areas, there's a lot of inbreeding, which causes genetic problems.

"As we now know, based on the National Park Service research, if we do nothing, they have at best 50 years before this population goes extinct," says Pratt.

But it isn't just scientists sticking up for the cats – many residents love them, too. Thanks to news reports, social media and educational outreach, the lions have grown into local celebrities. P-41 has his own Facebook page where he sometimes gets into virtual "cat fights" with the famous "Hollywood Lion", P-22.

"It's the most inspirational conservation project I've ever worked on," Pratt says. "People are building these relationships with these animals and they're becoming less scary because they're understanding them."

Just recently, two more young males joined the roster of LA cougars: P-55 and P-56, caught and collared in the western Santa Monica Mountains. 

"I just love that there's a value, especially in LA, that we want these cats on the landscape, and they are our neighbours," Pratt said. "That, to me, is the real success."