THOUSAND OAKS (CBSLA.com) — Researchers reported Friday that a female mountain lion successfully crossed the 101 Freeway from the Santa Monica Mountains.
According to the National Park Service, known as P-33, left the Camarillo area on the farthest western end of the mountains. Her exact path remains unclear at this time, however, researchers believe the 16-month-old animal crossed on the Conejo Grade sometime between midnight and 2:00 a.m. on March 9.
“It’s remarkable that this lion made it across the 101 alive,” said Linda Parks, Ventura County Supervisor and chair of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy. “We are fortunate to have vast areas of undeveloped open space for these animals to roam. We need safe crossing locations for them to keep motorists and animals safe from collisions.”
Researchers explained P-33 was documented as the second mountain lion to safely cross the freeway since researchers began studying the area in 2002 to determine how the animals survive in an urbanized environment.
The first mountain lion to accomplish this task was P-33’s grandfather. P-12 crossed the freeway in the opposite direction in 2009.
“The GPS points show that the lions we’re tracking frequently come right up to the edges of the freeway and then turn around,” said Dr. Seth Riley, a wildlife ecologist for the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreational Area. “After more than 10 years of seeing the same pattern in our data, it is very cool to see a lion figure out how to cross the freeway and reach other natural areas to the north.”
Earlier this year, the State Coastal Conservancy awarded Caltrans $1 million to conduct an environmental assessment and develop initial designs to construct the Liberty Canyon crossing.
Officials confirmed P-12’s crossing, in addition to a recent attempt that involved a lion that was fatally struck by a vehicle, all occurred near Liberty Canyon in Agoura Hills.
Authorities remarked the Liberty Canyon area remains the most ideal location for a proposed wildlife crossing at the 101 Freeway.
Currently, there is an existing underpass for wildlife under Highway 118, north of the canyon.
Researchers explained they tracked P-33, and her two siblings, since they were only four-weeks-old.