The mountain lion known as P-64 crossed beneath the 101 Freeway in the Liberty Canyon area of Agoura Hills — a “rare” spotting that shows the importance of that area for wildlife crossing, the National Park Service said Tuesday.
The lion, who is 3 to 4 years old, was captured Feb. 28 on the property of aerospace company Boeing property at the Santa Susana Field Laboratory and a GPS collar was attached to him, park officials said.
“The following day, he headed south, and surprised researchers by crossing the 101 Freeway,” park officials wrote in a news release.
The crossing was caught on footage through trail cameras in the area, officials said, and they have discovered that he used a culvert that runs under the freeway in order to cross. He is “believed to be” the same lion researchers recently tracked using the same culvert, official said in a news release.
The culvert was described by National Park Service officials as running more than 640 feet under the freeway, “sometimes full of water” and “completely dark because it bends along the way.”
“It’s really interesting that this mountain lion figured out how to use this extremely long and dark culvert under the freeway,” Seth Riley, wildlife ecologist for Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, said in a news release from park officials.
“We have had many other collared mountain lions come close to the freeway in the Liberty Canyon area and not manage to get across,” he said.
It’s a landmark sighting considering the National Park Service has been tracking mountain lions in the area using trail cameras for nearly three years. And during that time, the cameras have caught those animals, bobcats, raccoons, coyotes and mule deer all close to the freeway — but park officials said it appears none of them actually crossed the roadway until now.
“Biologists have not confirmed that any animals managed to cross to the other side of the freeway, until recently when it was discovered that P-64 used the culvert to cross,” park officials said in a news release.
The home range of P-64 is thought to likely include the Simi Hills, a northern portion of the Santa Monica Mountains and the Santa Susana Mountains, officials said.
Adult male mountain lions can have a home range that expands up to 200 square miles, according to National Park Service.