THOUSANDS OAKS (CBSLA) — A mountain lion made famous when she was photographed on top of a deer she had caught has been found dead after being struck by a car days earlier.
The remains of a female mountain lion found near Malibu Canyon Road were determined to be P-23, who had been photographed by a cyclist as she ate a deer on the side of Mulholland Highway back in 2013, National Park Service officials said Thursday.
“We’ve been tracking P23 since she was just a few weeks old and have documented her dispersal from her mom, establishment of a home range as an adult, and birth to three litters of kittens,” Jeff Sikich, biologist for Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, said in a statement. “Unfortunately, her life came to an end prematurely due to the challenge of navigating the complex road network in this area.”
P-23’s most recent litter is believed to be at least one year old. One of the two kittens, P-54, has been tagged by biologists, who believe they will be able to fend for themselves as most mountain lions leave their mothers between one and one-and-a-half years old.
Last year was particularly hazardous for mountain lions trying to live and breed in and around the Santa Monica Mountains, which is criss-crossed by several major freeways and where human development is rapidly shrinking open mountain areas. P-23 is the 18th known case of a mountain lion killed on a freeway or road in the area since 2002, according to National Park Service officials.
In 2017, a car strike killed one mountain lion cub less than two months after her mother was killed by a car in the same stretch of State Route 118 in Chatsworth. Another mountain lion found dead in December was found to have multiple rat poisons in its system.
Increasingly destructive wildfires have also proved fatal to mountain lions. P-41, a roughly 10-year-old male mountain lion, was found dead in October in the Shadow Hills neighborhood south of the 210 Freeway, and wildlife officials are working to determine if the recent La Tuna Fire contributed to his death.
After the Thomas Fire raged through Ventura and Santa Barbara counties in December, a 5-month-old mountain lion whose paws were burned badly, was determined to be too inexperienced to live by himself and will remain in captivity.