Rare Mountain Lion’s Death Highlights Urgent Need for Wildlife Crossing

Traveling hundreds of miles might be an ordinary feat for a mountain lion. But for the those living near California’s Santa Monica Mountains, moving from one place to another is proving increasingly difficult and, in many cases, deadly.

The National Park Service (NPS), which has been studying mountain lions in the area since 2002, announced the untimely death of a young male known as P-32 who was hit by a car and killed on Interstate 5 near Castaic in the early morning hours last Monday.

First tagged when he was just four weeks old, P-32 and his family have offered us a glimpse into the secret lives of these elusive predators after he, his mother and sister were caught in a series of images taken by a trail camera last winter.

11025719_10152750535748660_2513880308019260199_n   P-32 checks out a remotely triggered camera in February 2015. Credit: National Park Service

Before being killed, P-32 traveled all the way from the Santa Monica Mountains to Los Padres National Forest, miraculously crossing the 101 Freeway, State Route 23, Highway 118 and Highway 126 before making one last attempt to cross yet another barrier.

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“This case illustrates the challenges that mountain lions in this region face, particularly males,” said Dr. Seth Riley, a wildlife ecologist with Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. “P-32 conquered all kinds of freeways and highways to reach the Los Padres, but it was probably another dominant male that made him leave the area and attempt one last crossing, which obviously was not successful.”

NPS scientists have been monitoring them to learn more about their behaviors and to try to identify corridors that would allow them to safely disperse, but their current inability to move freely, establish ranges that can be up to 200 square miles and find mates is posing a major threat to their gene pool and future survival. Sadly, P-32 is also the twelfth mountain lion NPS scientists have been monitoring who has been killed in a collision, giving another face to the problems wildlife deals with as a result of habitat loss and fragmentation.

According to the NPS, P-22 is the only other male born in the Santa Monica Mountains that has made it to adulthood since they began studying them. He’s also literally dodged death, successfully crossing the 405 and 101 Freeways to make it to Griffith Park. But he’s had other problems and is now isolated there without any chance of finding a mate.

The NPS and other advocates for these big cats hope that a proposed wildlife crossing on Liberty Canyon Road in Agoura Hills will move forward, offering them a safe way to cross the 101 Freeway and head North into suitable habitat. Supporters of the plan hope it won’t just save mountain lions from being hit by cars but help keep drivers safe as well.

It might not save them all, but it will at least help ensure that accidents like this aren’t entirely inevitable as these mountain lions try to find their place and survive in an increasingly developed world.

TAKE ACTION!

Please sign and share the National Wildlife Federation’s petition urging the Department of Transportation  and local authorities to make the creation of a wildlife crossing an immediate priority.

Photo credit: Thinkstock

95 comments

Elisabeth Hansson
Elisabeth H2 years ago

TY for sharing.

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Marianne R.
Marianne R2 years ago

It's a matter of life and death

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Marianne R.
Marianne R2 years ago

It's a matter of life and death

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Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

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mari s.
Mari S2 years ago

Success! The Crossing is coming!

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Jennifer H.
Jennifer H2 years ago

Signed. We seem to mess with wildlife no matter what we do. We have to make progress on road crossings for wildlife throughout the state for all wildlife. Elk, deer, bear.

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Quanta Kiran
Quanta Kiran2 years ago

noted with sadness

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Marc Horton
marcus Horton2 years ago

I sure hope they get building these bridges soon,so no other mountain has to perish hopefull,thank u for the report

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Paulinha Russell
Paulinha Russell2 years ago

Thank you

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Ruhee B.
Ruhee B2 years ago

Too many animals are being killed on the roads. I find it very distressing and depressing. Poor mountain lion - petition already signed - it must be made safer for them to prevent further deaths.

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