That old adage about curiosity and the fate of felines didn’t hold true for one Southern California mountain lion recently.
National Park Service researchers say a male mountain lion named P-55 was documented successfully crossing the 101 Freeway — a rare event for Southern California’s big cats.
P-55, described as a “subadult male,” represents only the fourth case of a successful crossing since the NPS began its mountain lion study in 2002.
The puma also made it across Highway 23 and the 118 Freeway and is currently roaming the Santa Susana Mountains, according to the NPS.
The mountain lion had a busy weekend in late July, first being caught on camera in a backyard in Newbury Park, then cutting across the 101 Freeway in the early hours on July 30.
Researchers say he crossed along the Conejo Grade, the paved freeway incline into the Conejo Valley west of Thousand Oaks.
“The overwhelming pattern we’ve observed through GPS tracking is lions coming up to the edge of a freeway and turning around,” said Seth Riley, a wildlife ecologist with Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. “So it’s really interesting to see another lion get across.”
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Researchers have documented 17 mountain lion deaths on Southern California roadways since 2002.
Among those were the Dec. 2016 deaths of moutain lion P-39 and one of her kittens, P-52 — both killed in separate attempts to cross the 118 Freeway near Chatsworth. Another of her kittens, P-51, was killed on the same freeway in January.
“The 101 Freeway is a major obstacle for wildlife movement between the Santa Monica Mountains and other natural areas to the north,” NPS spokesman Zach Behrens said. “That lack of connectivity has led to inbreeding and reduced genetic diversity among the mountain lion population in the Santa Monica Mountains.”