Mountain Lion Kitten Killed on Freeway Just Weeks After His Mother

Conservationists are mourning the loss of a mountain lion kitten from who was fatally struck on a freeway just weeks after his mother suffered the same fate nearby.

P-52, as he was formally known, was just seven-months-old when he was killed just a few miles away from where his mother, P-39, died trying to cross California’s 118 Freeway in December 2016.

He was one of three kittens, who were believed to be P-39′s second litter. Images of the them were circulated over the summer, after they were discovered by wildlife officials, but their presence also raised questions about whether they would be able to survive in an increasingly developed area.

27923456591_f809f97068_zP-50, P-51 and P-52 litter. Credit: National Park Service

It was unknown if the other two kittens have survived since the mother’s death. It’s hoped they’re still out there and that they learned enough from their mother to survive on their own, but no one can be sure if they will. As of now, the National Park Service (NPS) has no plans to intervene.

“First, we don’t know where they are, and these kittens are no longer these small little kittens that stay in one location,” said NPS Public Affairs Officer Kate Kuykendall, adding, “to take animals out of their natural environment and very high-quality mountain lion habitat, where they do have a chance at survival and put them in captivity for the rest of their lives. I don’t think that’s a good option.”

The Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area said in an announcement that officials from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife had collected the body and will determine whether the P-52 was otherwise healthy. They also said that while it’s a “very sad turn of events,” rangers hope their research “can shed insight into the lives of these animals and will inspire future conservation efforts to help wildlife move through the region more safely.”

Sadly, young P-52 was the 14th mountain lion to be killed by a vehicle in the study area since 2002. According to the National Park Service, his mother had stayed mostly north of the freeway, but she had crossed for the first time just days before she was killed.

The area’s network of multi-lane freeways are an immense and clearly deadly barrier for mountain lions. Without the ability to expand and establish new territories, they face not only the threat of deadly encounters with territorial older members of their species, but also problems that come with a lack of genetic diversity. Over the summer, researchers gave them a 99.7 percent chance of going extinct in the next 50 years due to inbreeding.

Fortunately, these mountain lions have advocates who want to see them thrive in what’s otherwise perfect habitat for them. They have been working on plans to build a wildlife crossing over the 101 Freeway in Agoura Hills to connect habitat in the Santa Monica Mountains with the Simi Hills and Santa Susana Mountains in an effort to give them a safe corridor to expand.

For more info on how to help support a wildlife crossing, check out the Save L.A. Cougars campaign.

Photo credit: Thinkstock

232 comments

Theresa Chartrand
Theresa Chartrand7 months ago

So sad,protect wildlife.

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Marie W
Marie W9 months ago

thanks for sharing.

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Richard A
Richard A10 months ago

This was a very sad but probably foreseeable outcome especially considering the death of his mother. Hopefully we will do better.

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Chun Lai T
Chun Lai T10 months ago

Thanks for the info

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Maria Papastamatiou
Maria Papastamatiou11 months ago

So sad..

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Nang Hai C
Nang Hai C11 months ago

thanks

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Siyus C
Siyus Copetallus11 months ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Marija Mohoric
Marija M11 months ago

poor kitten...

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Karen G
Karen Gee11 months ago

Thank you for sharing

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Cathy B
Cathy B11 months ago

Thank you for sharing!

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