Young Cougar Born in Santa Monica Mountains Killed on the 405
BY ANNE SOBLE
Last week, P-18, one of the three mountain lion kittens born in the Santa Monica Mountains in May 2010, was hit and killed while attempting to cross the I-405.
The 15-month-old mountain lion was being tracked by radio telemetry equipment that was placed on him when he was three weeks old, as part of a decade-long National Park Service mountain lion study in the Santa Monicas.
P-18 is thought to have been slowly making his way east through the mountains to establish an unoccupied territory of his own.
Cougars are believed to travel throughout the Santa Monica Mountain range, from the 405 to Camarillo on a regular basis.
Freeways are a major barrier to wildlife travel, and the NPS has urged the construction of wildlife crossings between the Santa Monica Mountains and open space parkland in the Santa Susana Mountains and Los Padres National Forest to allow animals to move freely between large areas of protected territory, and increase genetic diversity in the local mountain lion population.
This is a critical need for long-term species survival.
Although it is likely that other cougars have succeeded in crossing freeways, there has only been one documented successful mountain lion crossing in the study for either of the freeways that surround the Santa Monica Mountains.
P-12, the father of P-18, crossed Highway 101 in early 2009, and still inhabits the Santa Monica Mountains.