A mountain lion that gained notoriety for crossing the 101 and 118 freeways many times in his short life has died, just weeks after officials announced he was one of a dozen cougars who survived last month’s deadly and destructive Woolsey Fire.
The remains of P-64 were discovered Monday by National Park Service researchers, though he had likely been dead for days, officials said in a news release Friday. His collar last transmitted a GPS point on Nov. 28.
P-64 was among 12 of 13 mountain lions known to survive the Woolsey Fire, which erupted near Simi Valley on Nov. 8. He was in the Simi Hills, just above Oak Park, at the time.
The cougar traversed a course of several miles through the hills over the next few days, eventually settling down in a remote area. On Nov. 26, a telemetry device pinpointed the location of P-64 in a part of the Simi Hills that was spared the flames.
When researchers found the deceased mountain lion, however, his paws were visibly burned, according to the release. A necropsy will be conducted to determine a cause of death.
“It’s very unfortunate that he was seemingly so successful surviving in this fragmented landscape and then died in the aftermath of a devastating wildfire,” said Jeff Sikich, a biologist for the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. “It’s of particular interest that he chose to travel back through a fresh burn area rather than retreat through urbanized areas to escape the fire.”
The approximately 4-year-old big cat had been tracked for the past nine months, since he was captured back in February at the Santa Susana Field Lab.
During the time he was monitored, P-64 crossed the 101 and 118 Freeways an astounding total of 41 times, researchers said.
In a “rare” spotting, the “Culvert Cat” — as he became to be known as — was captured on trail cameras using a long and narrow storm drain to cross under the 101 Freeway near Liberty Canyon in Agoura Hills.
He crossed the 101 Freeway a total of 14 times, and the 118 Freeway 27 times.
“P-64 was a fascinating cat to study because he crossed our notoriously deadly freeways dozens of times,” Sikich said.
In addition to the Simi Hills, the cougar was known to roam the Santa Monica Mountains and the southern Santa Susana Mountains.
He is believed to have fathered four kittens born this past May, though DNA testing has not yet been conducted to verify that.
P-64’s death was announced less than two weeks after officials said that one of the 13 mountain lions tracked by Park Service researchers in the region — a young male known as P-74 — likely did not survive the Woolsey Fire. His remains have not been located.
The wildfire hit the Santa Monica Mountains particularly hard, burning through some 88 percent of the National Park Service’s land, according to the release. It also consumed 47 percent of the land within the recreation area.