This Adorable Mountain Lion Kitten is Why We Need a Wildlife Crossing

Animal lovers are celebrating the discovery of another adorable mountain lion kitten in California’s Santa Monica Mountains– but they’re also raising questions and concerns about whether her species can survive in an increasingly developed area.

The kitten was recently marked by researchers from the National Park Service (NPS), which has been studying mountain lions in the area since 2002, and biologists from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

She’s just a few weeks old and has officially been dubbed P-54, and while it’s believed that she’s healthy, the discovery has come with a downside – researchers believe she’s the product of inbreeding. According to the NPS, her mother, P-23, and her father, P-30, who is her mother’s half-sibling were documented traveling together. About three months later, P-23′s GPS locations indicated she had given birth.

32997981294_c3d011d5e0_zCredit: National Park Service

“The good news is that local mountain lions continue to reproduce successfully,” said Jeff Sikich, biologist for Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. “Unfortunately, these animals are stuck on an island of habitat, with very little movement in and out of the Santa Monica Mountains, which has led to multiple cases of inbreeding.”

The area’s network of multi-lane freeways are an immense and clearly deadly barrier for mountain lions, and have isolated the few who are managing to survive in our midst. Sadly, more than a dozen individuals NPS scientists have been monitoring have been killed in collisions with vehicles when they try to disperse and find new homes and mates.

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. Researchers recently 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.

The project is moving forward, but making it a reality is still a matter of funding. The #SaveLACougars campaign, which was founded by the National Wildlife Federation and the Santa Monica Mountains Fund, is working on securing much of what will be needed to complete the crossing, and has aligned its fundraising timeline with the estimated stages of development.

Hopefully the project will continue to move forward and the crossing will help ensure that death isn’t inevitable for mountain lions who are just trying to find their place and survive in an increasingly developed world.

For more on how to help, visit the National Wildlife Federation and #SaveLACougars.

Photo credit: National Park Service


Marie W
Marie W1 years ago

Thanks for sharing.

Melania P
Melania P1 years ago

Wildlife crossings are highly effective, every country in the world should have them just to help wildlife. We've killed almost everything on the planet, it is the least we can do!

Dominic C
Dominic C1 years ago

Oh Boy!

Telica R
Telica R1 years ago

Thanks for sharing.

Margie F
Margie FOURIE1 years ago

Thanks again.

ANA MARIJA R1 years ago

I wonder the same, Rosslyn O.
#SaveLACougars Please
p.s. Happy Easter everyone!

Fredrik Lundgren
.1 years ago

Really cute mountain lion kitten

Patricia H
Patricia Harris1 years ago

Rosslyn O. completely agree with you, and Happy Easter to you as well.

Rosslyn O
Rosslyn O1 years ago

I still cannot understand why these overpasses were not incorporated into the design of the road planning in the very beginning. It is not as if the wildlife just suddenly materialise after road and divisions are built. Animals were here before humans you know! "Happy Easter everyone".

Philippa Powers
Philippa P1 years ago

We need to protect our wildlife.