The mountain lion P-54 was fatally struck Friday by a vehicle in the Santa Monica Mountains, apparently not far from where her mother, P-23, was killed in 2018, officials said.
At about 9:30 a.m., biologists from the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area were alerted by an animal shelter that a radio-collared mountain lion had been killed on Las Virgenes Road between Piuma Road and Mulholland Highway, National Park Service officials said.
P-54 will be taken to the California Animal Health and Food Safety Lab in San Bernardino for necropsy.
The female adult mountain lion is the 29th big cat — and the 10th with a radio collar — to be killed by a vehicle in the National Park Service’s study of cougars since 2002. The study includes Santa Monica Mountains, Simi Hills, Santa Susana Mountains, Verdugo Mountains, and Griffith Park.
P-54 was tracked by biologists in the Santa Monica Mountains “practically her entire life,” officials said.
She was born in January 2017, and a month later NPS researchers tagged her with a tracking device while her mother was away from the den.
Then, a year later, P-23 was found dead after being hit by a vehicle along the same road, but further south from where P-54 was discovered.
“P-54 was one year old at the time of her mother’s death, which is the beginning of the period when kittens usually leave their mothers,” NPS officials explained.
In 2020, P-54 gave birth to two litters. The first, in May 2020, kicked off what NPS researchers called the “summer of kittens.” During that time, five mountain lion mothers gave birth between May and September.
But researchers believe the first nest of P-54, P-82, P-83 and P-84, did not survive.
In October of that year she gave birth to P-97 and P-98, both males.
Unfortunately, P-97 met the same fate as its mother and was struck and killed on the 405 Freeway southbound near the Getty Center in April. At the time, P-97 was 18 months old and had only recently moved away from his mother.
His death came a day before a groundbreaking ceremony was held to begin construction of the world’s largest wildlife crossing over the 101 Freeway.
The bridge over the major highway is intended to provide a safe route to the Santa Monica Mountains for cougars, coyotes, deer, and other wildlife.
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