The four-year-old mountain lion went viral when he successfully crossed the 10-lane freeway in July.
After becoming the first GPS-collared mountain lion to cross the 10-lane freeway in nearly two decades, the famed male cat called P-61 was struck and killed early Saturday morning.
The California Highway Patrol arrived at the scene under the Sepulveda Boulevard underpass around 4 a.m. to move P-61 out of motorists’ way, according to the National Park Service. Animal control officers subsequently retrieved his body and later notified the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, as well as the researchers at the Santa Monica National Recreation Area.
The reason for P-61’s crossing is unknown, but the NPS believes that he may have had an altercation with another mountain lion leaving him to flee and find another habitat. Male mountain lions are known to be territorial and over the years, researchers retrieved remote camera photos of an uncolored male mountain lion that has presumably lived on the eastern side of the 405 for about five years.
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Give it up to male mountain lion P-61! 💪🏽😃👊🏼🔥 . This four-year-old cat somehow managed to cross the 405 Freeway in the Sepulveda Pass area on the morning of July 19 between 2 and 4 a.m., according to National Park Service biologists. That's a rare and amazing feat! . This is the first time during the course of our 17-year study of mountain lions in and around the Santa Monica Mountains that a GPS-collared lion has crossed the 405 Freeway. In the same general vicinity where P-61 likely crossed, P-18 was hit and killed by a vehicle in 2011 and another uncollared lion was hit and killed in 2009. . But the most famous mountain lion to have crossed the 405 Freeway is P-22. He was not collared at the time so little is known about his journey. DNA tests indicate P-22 was born in the Santa Monica Mountains. He made his way across both the 405 and the 101 Freeways on his journey to Griffith Park, where he has lived for more than seven years. . In addition to P-61, researchers are also aware of an uncollared male mountain that seems to inhabit the same relatively small area between the 405 and 101 Freeways. Surveillance camera footage occasionally surfaces with images of that lion dating back approximately five years. . To learn more about P-61, please check out our press release (link in bio). . 📹: This is some recent video footage we captured before he crossed. The other photos were taken several years ago. . #santamonicamountains #internationalcatday #mountainlion #mountainlions #findyourpark #encuentratuparque #puma #cougar
It’s devastations such as this that have led transportation officials and conservationists to build a predominately privately funded wildlife crossing over the major Southern California freeway – the U.S. 101 – to take major steps in preventing the extinction of mountain lions as well as other species that require room to roam. The wildlife overpass will provide big cats, coyotes, deer, lizards, and snakes a safe route to the open space they know by nature.
Though mountain lions are not a threatened species in California, environmentalists have argued that a subpopulation of mountain lions in the state could face extinction because of isolated habitats and low genetic diversity.
Also published on Medium.