Woodland Hills

Research Study Mountain Lion P-89 Struck and Killed on 101 Freeway

The young mountain lion is the fourth big cat in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area study to be killed on a Southern California freeway in 2022.

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A mountain lion who was part of a Southern California wildlife research study was struck and killed on the 101 Freeway in the west San Fernando Valley.

Mountain lion P-89 was just 2 years old. He was found dead Monday morning on the shoulder of the 101 Freeway between the DeSoto and Winnetka exits in Woodland Hills, according to the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.

He is the fourth big cat from the group's study to be killed on a Southern California road this year. The research study mountain lions wear GPS collars that allow wildlife researchers to track their location.

Researchers said the offspring of mountain lion P-65 recently went off on his own.

It is estimated that the mountain lion population in the Santa Monica Mountains could become extinct within 50 years without an influx of genetic diversity. The lions are largely isolated due to freeways that act as barriers to movement across the region.

Conservationists hope the $85 million Wallis Annenberg Wildlife Crossing, which will span the 101 Freeway in Liberty Canyon near Agoura Hills, will alleviate the problem when it is completed in 2025. It will be the largest crossing of its kind in the world -- a fully landscaped passage for wildlife that will stretch 210 feet over 10 lanes of highway and pavement.

The crossing aims to provide a connection between the small population of mountain lions in the Santa Monica Mountains and the larger and genetically diverse populations to the north.

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.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife receives hundreds of mountain lion sighting reports each year. Few result in mountain lions being identified as posing an imminent threat to public safety, the department said. Mountain lion attacks on humans are extremely rare and their nature is to avoid humans.

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