In June 2016, a mountain lion, P-39, gave birth to three kittens, P-50, P-51 and P-52. On December 3, she was struck and killed by a vehicle while crossing the 118 Freeway near Chatsworth and Simi Valley, leaving the six-month old orphans to fend for themselves. Researchers had been tracking P-39 since April 2015.
National Park Service (NPS) biologist, Jeff Sikich, was not optimistic that the kittens would have developed the hunting skills to survive without their mother.
On Dec. 3, 2016, seven-month-old P-52, a male, died a few miles away from where his mother, P-39, was hit and killed. According to NPS, P-39 was the thirteenth, P-52 was the fourteenth known case of mountain lions killed in the region since 2002. Then, on January 14, 2017, tragedy struck again: P-52’s sister, P-51, became the fifteenth to be killed while crossing the 118 Freeway in the same area.
Kate Kuykendahl, spokesperson for the Santa Monica Mountains Recreation Area (SMMNRA) said no one has seen evidence of the remaining brother, P-50, since he was four weeks old. “We’re really not sure if he’s alive.”
“The area where these animals were killed is part of a critical wildlife corridor that connects the genetically isolated population in the Santa Monica Mountains to what is considered the nearest source population, in Los Padres National Forest,” said urban wildlife expert Seth Riley.
In September 2015, the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority (MRCA) released a ground-breaking proposal prepared by the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) to evaluate the feasibility and cost of a proposed dedicated wildlife passage across US-101 near Liberty Canyon Road in Agoura.
Beth Pratt-Bergstrom, California Director of the National Wildlife Federation in collaboration with many stakeholders and its partner, the Santa Monica Mountains Fund have been advocating for habitat linkages that mountain lions and other wildlife require in highly urbanized landscape. Pratt hopes everything will be in place for construction to start by 2018.