Mountain lion P-54 struck and killed on Las Virgenes Road, just outside Malibu

Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. NPS. Video: P-54 sniffing at a trail camera in the Santa Monica Mountains.

Mountain lion P-54 was struck and killed by a vehicle Friday as it crossed Las Virgenes Road between the intersections with Piuma Road and Mulholland Highway.

The National Park Service (NPS) was notified by the Agoura Animal Shelter about 9:30 a.m. that the collared adult female lion had been hit.

“P-54 will be taken to the California Animal Health and Food Safety Lab in San Bernardino for a full necropsy,” the NPS said in a statement. “The female adult mountain lion is the 29th mountain lion (and 10th radio-collared one) to be killed by a vehicle in our study area since 2002.”

She is also at least the third local mountain lion to die while crossing Las Virgenes/ Malibu Canyon Road in recent years.

P-54 had been tracked by biologists in the Santa Monica Mountains for most of her life. She was born in January 2017 and fitted with a tracking device by researchers when she was only a month old, while her mother (P-23) was away from the den.

The location where P-54 was hit was very near where her mother was struck and killed in 2018 – just a little further north on the same road, according to the NPS. P-54 was one year old at the time of her mothers death, which is during the early end of when kittens typically leave their mother.

In 2020, she gave birth to two litters. The first one, in May 2020, kicked off the “summer of kittens,” when five mountain lion mothers in the NPS study gave birth between May and September. She had three kittens – P-82, P-83, and P-84; but researchers don’t believe that any of them survived. In late October 2020, she gave birth to P-97 and P-98, both males.

Offspring P-97 was struck and killed about two months ago on the 405 Freeway near Getty Center, while looking “for a territory to call his own.” He was about 18 months old.

P-97’s death occurred just one day before the groundbreaking ceremony for construction of the Wallis Annenberg Wildlife Crossing, over the Ventura (101) Freeway at Liberty Canyon in Agoura Hills. The $85 million project will be the largest of its kind in the world – a landscaped bridge for wildlife to safely cross over 10 lanes of highway.

The Wildlife Crossing is being developed after 20 years of scientific study by the National Park Service proved that roads and urban development either kill or otherwise prevent mountain lions and other animals from moving into new territories. The resulting islands – like the Santa Monica Mountains surrounded by freeways – result in inbreeding that would cause the animals to go extinct in about 50 years due to genetic abnormalities.

The Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area published a video on Facebook of P-54 sniffing at a trail camera in the Santa Monica Mountains.