Crossing a California freeway, a mountain lion finds new ground

Mountain lion P-61 was captured in October of 2017 in the eastern end of the Santa Monica Mountains. ©National Park Service

The National Park Service has documented a rare case of a mountain lion crossing a major California freeway that runs past the Santa Monica Mountains. It’s the first time a GPS-collared mountain lion (Puma concolor) has crossed the 405 Freeway since a study started looking at habitat fragmentation in the highly urbanized area 17 years ago. The Park Service says a male mountain lion known as P-61 crossed the highway early on the morning of July 19th. “His feat is a reminder of how challenging Southern California’s road network is for mountain lions and other wildlife, as well,” said Jeff Sikich, biologist for Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. “Others haven’t been so lucky.”

Freeways have isolated the local mountain lion population, which has led to low genetic diversity levels. During the course of the study, researchers have documented numerous mountain lions reaching the freeway and not crossing. Biologists believe an uncollared male already occupies the area that P-61 now occupies.

Read more in the Los Angeles Times.