One young mountain lion makes it across the 101 freeway, but his brother doesn’t

Photo courtesy Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.

The National Park Service (NPS) reported that last Monday, July 18, two-year old male mountain lion P-89 was found dead along the shoulder of the 101 Freeway between the DeSotoand Winnetka exits in Woodland Hills – a dense urban area. He had been hit by a vehicle around 2 a.m.

He was the fourth collared lion in the NPS study group to be struck and killed by a vehicle this year. Tissue, hair, and whisker samples were collected from P-89 after he was killed, and anecropsy will be conducted.

The young lion had just left his mother, P-65, earlier this year; and presumably died in the quest to find and establish his own territory. He was one of three kittens born to P-65 in the central Santa Monica Mountains during the prolific “Summer of Kittens” in 2020, when 13 kittens were born to five mountain lion mothers.

Lion P-89 and his siblings, female P-88 and male P-90, were first captured and marked at the den when they were about three weeks old.

When the two males were about 16 months old, they were re-captured by NPS last October and November, and fitted with GPS radio collars before dispersing from their mother. Biologists noted at the time that the two brothers had “mangy appearances” and treated both with Selamectin, a topical treatment for mange, fleas, and ticks.

Brother P-90 defied all odds by being one of the few mountain lions in the 20-year-long NPS study to successfully cross the 101 freeway – which he did in Camarillo last month, leaving the Santa Monica Mountains altogether. His GPS collar signals that he has been wandering in Los Padres National Forest. The whereabouts of sister P-88 are unknown.

It is hoped that the new Wallis Annenberg Wildlife Crossing that has begun construction at the 101 Freeway and Agoura Road at the Liberty Canyon Road exit will help more mountain lions disperse successfully without getting killed.