Mountain lion P-54 is killed by vehicle four years after her mother died on the same road

mountain lion
Credit: Unsplash/CC0 Public Domain

A mountain lion was struck and killed by a vehicle Friday in the Santa Monica Mountains, not far from where her mother was killed in a 2018 crash, the National Park Service said.

P-54, born in 2017, was struck around 9:30 a.m. on Las Virgenes Road between Piuma Road and Mulholland Highway, becoming "the latest grim statistic for regional mountain lions," the said in an Instagram post.

The lion will be taken to the California Animal Health and Food Safety Lab in San Bernardino for a full necropsy.

She is the 29th mountain lion killed by a vehicle since 2002 in the park service's cougar study area—which includes the Santa Monica Mountains, Simi Hills, Griffith Park and the Santa Susana and Verdugo mountains—including 10 lions that had been collared and tracked by parks officials.

Underscoring the ever-present danger mountain lions face trying to cross roads and freeways in the area, P-54's mother was killed on the same road in January 2018, and her son was killed on the 405 Freeway just two months ago.

Her mother, P-23, was found dead farther south from where P-54 was killed, where Las Virgenes Road becomes Malibu Canyon Road.

At the time, P-54 was a year old and "at the early end of when kittens typically leave their mother," the park service said. P-23 was 5 1/2 years old when she was killed.

P-97, one of P-54's five offspring born in 2020, was struck and killed on the 405 Freeway near the Getty Center in April.

"He was 18 months old and had recently dispersed from his mother, P-54," the park service said.

In May 2020, P-54 gave birth to a litter of three kittens, which researchers believe did not survive. She gave birth to P-97 and P-98 in October 2020.

P-97 was struck and killed a day before work began on a wildlife bridge over the 101 Freeway in Agoura Hills aimed at encouraging safe crossings for mountain lions and other wildlife that are genetically isolated by the .

The bridge, funded by $87 million in donations, is expected to be completed in 2025.

L.A.'s have been confined to small territories by the region's roads and freeways, leading to the lowest genetic diversity documented for the species aside from the critically endangered Florida panther.

Because of the resulting inbreeding, vehicle deaths, urban encroachment and other threats, there is an almost 1 in 4 chance the cats could become extinct in the Santa Monica and Santa Ana mountains within 50 years, according to some recent studies.


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