CHATSWORTH (CBSLA.com) — A mountain lion struck and killed by a car on the Ronald Reagan (118) Freeway earlier this month was confirmed to be P-39, an adult female with three 6-month-old kittens, National Park Service officials said Thursday.
P-39 was suspected to be the victim of a fatal collision at the Rocky Peak exit on Dec. 3 because her GPS collar stopped functioning and she was in the general vicinity a few hours before the crash, National Park Service biologists said.
The remains of the animal that was struck were never located and witnesses who did see her did not report seeing a collar.
After repeatedly searching the area, Jeff Sikich, a biologist with the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, found the damaged GPS collar in the center divider of the freeway, which suggests the collar came off as a result of the impact with the vehicle.
P-39 is believed to have been born in 2011 or 2012, and was officially entered into the National Park Service’s study in April 2015. Biologists confirmed she had at least two litters of kittens, including the three 6-month-old kittens known as P-50, P-51 and P-52.
“Navigating our complex road network is a major challenge for mountain lions in this region,” Sikich said in a statement. “Unfortunately, it’s unlikely that the kittens have developed the hunting skills to survive without their mom.”
Researchers say P-39 had mostly stayed in the wilderness north of the 118 Freeway since they began tracking her in 2015, but a few days before her death, she had successfully crossed the freeway for the first time.
It’s not known whether her kittens were traveling with her at the time of her death.