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Climate and Environment

Another Mountain Lion Has Been Killed On The 101, Just A Day Before A Major Conservancy Milestone

A tan and white mountain lion corpse lays about five feet from a three-lane, black asphalt highway as eight cars pass by.
P-89 was found struck and killed by traffic on the 101 Freeway in Woodland Hills on July 18, 2022.
(Courtesy National Park Service)
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Another mountain lion has been killed on the 101 Freeway.

The death of P-89, who was 2 years old, came just one day before the National Park Service marked the 20-year anniversary of its study focused on the endangered local population of big cats.

The cougar's body was found along the shoulder of the freeway in Woodland Hills at 2 a.m. Monday. National Park officials described the surrounding area as "dense and urban."

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The face of a tiny mountain lion kitten.
P-89 photographed as a kitten.
(Courtesy National Park Service)

They also said P-89 was one of three kittens born to P-65 in the central Santa Monica Mountains during a cougar baby boom in the summer of 2020.

P-89 was first tagged just a few weeks after birth. This is what's known about his siblings, according to the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area Facebook post:

His brother, P-90, is still alive and successfully crossed the 101 Freeway in Camarillo last month, leaving the Santa Monica Mountains. His GPS locations show that he has been wandering in Los Padres National Forest. The whereabouts of their female sibling, P-88, is unknown.

A Deadly Crossing

The 101 is the deadliest freeway for Southern California's mountain lions. Between 2002 and 2017, 17 mountain lions were killed on local roads, seven of them on the 101, according to the National Park Service.

The roadway severs the animals’ natural habitat — and, generally, they run up against it and are immediately deterred, according to Beth Pratt with the National Wildlife Federation.

“I’ve stood at the 101 at 2 a.m. and I still wouldn’t cross, and that’s what these animals are pretty much saying — they come to the 101, they look at it and they’re like ... no way am I trying that," Pratt told LAist in an interview back in April.

P-89’s death highlights the urgency of the situation for the local mountain lion population, which could face extinction in the next 50 years, according to a 2019 study from UC Davis.

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And reinforcements couldn't come soon enough — in April, ground was broken for the Liberty Canyon Wildlife Crossing. The span would stretch over the 101 at the biggest bottleneck for wildlife, where the National Park Service has tracked thousands of GPS points showing cougars approaching and then turning back around.

An artist's rendering shows a wide green passageway over many lanes of highway.
(Courtesy National Wildlife Federation )

P-89 is the 30th conservancy cougar killed by traffic since the study's start and the fourth killed on the roads this year. In June, P-54 was the third, killed in Calabasas.

On Tuesday, the official Twitter for the National Recreation Area marked the 20th anniversary with this look back:

What questions do you have about Southern California?

Updated July 20, 2022 at 2:49 PM PDT
This article was updated with additional information about P-89's background.