A mountain lion was found dead early Thursday near the 405 Freeway in Los Angeles' Brentwood area.
Callers reported the big cat on the southbound side of the freeway at about 1 a.m. near Getty Center Drive. The animal had been struck by a vehicle on the nearby freeway entrance ramp.
The mountain lion did not appear to be wearing a GPS tracking collar. The collars are worn by mountain lions, like famed P-22, who are part of wildlife studies.
Ana Cholo, of the National Park Service, told the Los Angeles Times the animal was being recovered for examination. It was later identified as P-97, an 18-month-old male mountain lion that became the first to die crossing the 10-lane stretch of the 405 Freeway since 2019.
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Scientists tracking mountain lions fitted with GPS collars found over decades that roadways are largely confining animals in mountains that run along the Malibu coast and across the middle of LA to Griffith Park, where P-22 settled.
P-22 was born in the Santa Monica Mountains and crossed major freeways, including the 405 and 101 freeways. Sightings are frequently reported in residential areas in the Hollywood Hills.
Last month, P-104, a subadult male mountain lion, was killed in a collision on Pacific Coast Highway. He was the 25th big cat and eight collared study cat to be killed by a car and the first documented case on the coastal road.
Groundbreaking is set for this month on what's billed as the world's largest wildlife crossing — a bridge over a major Southern California highway that will provide more room to roam for mountain lions and other animals hemmed in by urban sprawl. A ceremony marking the start of construction for the span over the 101 Freeway near Los Angeles will take place on Earth Day.
The bridge will give big cats, coyotes, deer, lizards, snakes and other creatures a safe route to open space in the Santa Monica Mountains and better access to food and potential mates, said the wildlife federation's Beth Pratt.
There are about 4,000 to 6,000 mountain lions in California, but wildlife officials call that a crude estimate without an ongoing statewide study. More than half of the state is considered prime habitat for the big cats, which can be found wherever deer are present.
But researchers estimate that the mountain lion population in the Santa Monica Mountains could become extinct within 50 years without the introduction of genetic diversity. The Agoura Hills freeway crossing is designed to provide a connection between mountain lion populations, making them more genetically diverse.