P-65 Becomes 2nd Female Mountain Lion to Cross 101 Freeway During Santa Monica Mountains Study

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A mountain lion successfully crossed the 101 Freeway, becoming just the second known female large cat to do so in the Santa Monica Mountains area since a study of the species there began 17 years ago, rangers announced Wednesday.

The rare event occurred between midnight and 2 a.m. on Aug. 21 in the Agoura Hills area, according to a post on the Facebook page of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreational Area.

Mountain lion P-65 moved across the freeway and northward into the Simi Hills, according to the post.

She’s just the second radio-collared female to cross the 101 in the National Park Service’s 17-year study of cougars in and around the Los Angeles area, rangers said.

Researchers haven’t pinpointed the exact location where she crossed, but GPS data indicates it was in the area of Liberty Canyon, site of the proposed wildlife crossing bridge.

P-65 is believed to have crossed into the hills from the freeway because remote cameras did not pick up her movement through a culvert or underpass in the area, according to rangers.

Prior to the movement, P-65 had been tracked living in or around the perimeter of where the Woolsey Fire erupted last November. She was first collared in the mountain’s central portion in March 2018.

The only other female mountain lion to have successfully made it across the 101 Freeway is P-33, who did it in March 2015 near the border of Thousand Oaks and Camarilla, which is the far western end of the Santa Monica Mountains.

She also crossed Highway 126 and made it up to the Los Padres National Forest, becoming the first documented puma in the study to successful disperse to a new home range.

P-33 was found dead by a biologist in July 2018. By then, her remains were too decomposed to determine a cause of death, according to the Santa Monica Mountains’ website.

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