LOS ANGELES (CNS) — A radio-collared mountain lion was fatally struck by a vehicle on the Ventura (101) Freeway in Woodland Hills, authorities said Wednesday.
The male mountain lion known as P-89 was just two years old. He was found dead early Monday along the shoulder of the freeway between the DeSoto and Winnetka exits, according to the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.
He was struck around 2 a.m.
“... He is the 4th lion in our study to die from road mortality this year alone. Earlier this year, he had recently dispersed from his mother, P-65,” Santa Monica Mountains officials tweeted Wednesday.
Researchers have 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.
But some wildlife advocates say one crossing isn't enough.
"Unless we address this serious problem of habitat fragmentation by building more wildlife crossings, we will continue to read heartbreaking headlines of mountain lion fatalities," said Tiffany Yap, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity. The group is sponsoring AB 2344, the Safe Roads and Wildlife Protection Act, which is currently making its way through the state Legislature.
"The death of a young puma who just dispersed from his mother should encourage California leaders to act," Yap added. "When state senators consider the Safe Roads and Wildlife Protection Act next month, I hope they see the gravity of the situation and pass the bill."