Mountain lion P-54 was fatally struck by a vehicle in the Santa Monica Mountains Friday, apparently not far from where her mother, P-23, was killed in 2018, officials said.
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 a necropsy.
The female adult mountain lion is the 29th big cat — and 10th radio collared one — to be killed by a vehicle in the National Park Service’s study on cougars since 2002. The study includes Santa Monica Mountains, Simi Hills, Santa Susana Mountains, Verdugo Mountains, and Griffith Park.
P-54 had been 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 marked her with a tracking device while her mother was away from the den.
Then, a year later, P-23 was found dead after being struck 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 during the early end of when kittens typically leave their mother,” NPS officials explained.
In 2020, P-54 gave birth to two litters. The first one, 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 that P-54’s first litter, 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.
P-97, sadly, met the same fate as his mother and was struck and killed on the southbound 405 Freeway near the Getty Center in April. At the time, P-97 was 18 months old and had only recently dispersed from his mother.
The bridge over the major highway is meant to provide mountain lions, coyotes, deer and other animals a safe route to the Santa Monica Mountains.
In a statement, Tiffany Yap, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity, said the latest mountain lion death highlights the need for better wildlife connectivity on roads.
“We can prevent these tragic deaths with bold action. Wildlife crossings help pumas and other animals safely cross our roads while keeping drivers safer,” the statement read. “As state senators consider the Safe Roads and Wildlife Protection Act next week, I hope they understand how important it is to take action now.”
The organization is sponsoring the bill, AB 2344.