CHATSWORTH (CBSLA.com) — The female cub of a mountain lion killed while crossing the State Route 118 in Chatsworth has also been fatally struck on the same stretch of freeway.
The carcass found a mile east of the Rocky Peak exit of the 118 Freeway on Jan. 14 was soon identified by National Park Service researchers as P-51, an eight-month-old kitten.
The lion’s mother, P-39, was struck and killed on the same freeway on Dec. 3, and researchers at the time had said that it would be unlikely her kittens would survive the death of their mother.
The prediction swiftly came true, when one of her cubs, a male kitten dubbed P-52, was fatally struck on the same freeway on Dec. 20, followed by P-51’s demise about a month later.
Biologists conducted a necropsy on P-52 to determine his overall health as the cub had been without his mother for a few weeks before his own death. The necropsy revealed that P-52 was thin, weighed 24 pounds, but still had adequate internal fat reserves, according to the National Park Service. He had recently fed on a skunk – typical prey for a kitten learning to hunt.
“It was positive to see that P-52 had recently fed,” Marc Kenyon, state Department of Fish and Wildlife’s mountain lion conservation program coordinator, said in a statement. “Whether or not these kittens had the ability to feed to was a subject of much discussion. Apparently their mother had taught them predatory skills within their first six to seven months, and we’re hopeful the necropsy on P-51 confirms this, too.”
The status of P-39’s third kitten, P-50, is not known, National Park Service spokeswoman Kate Kuykendall said. The 4-week litter was discovered last July, and it was the last researchers had seen of the kittens. They were not tagged at that time.
“Sometimes kittens travel with their mother and sometimes…not,” Kuykendall said. “A lot of the time we don’t know what happens to the kittens.”
The death of P-51 was the seventeenth known case of a mountain lion killed on a freeway or road in the National Park Service study area in and around the Santa Monica Mountains since 2002.