Friday, park officials announced that a female mountain lion accomplished a rare feat when she crossed the 101 Freeway this month, marking only the second such journey documented in over a decade.
The news released last March 9 through a National Park Service, the 16-month-old mountain lion, known as P-33 who recently left her mother, crossed in the Camarillo area, at the farthest western end of the Santa Monica Mountains.
A wildlife ecologist for Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, Dr. Seth Riley said, “The GPS points show that the lions we’re tracking frequently come right up to the edges of the freeway and then turn around. 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.”
Based on the release, between midnight and 2 a.m. she crossed the Conejo Grade becoming the first mountain lion of over 35 studied to disperse out of the Santa Monica Mountains. But the pin point the exact path she took remains unclear.
In a statement of the Ventura County supervisor and chair of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, Linda Parks said “It’s remarkable that this lion made it across the 101 alive.”
The first lion to make a 101 Freeway crossing in 2009 was P-12, headed the opposite direction. The lion took the trip, passing near the Liberty Canyon area, officials said.
P-33’s trip is the second successful crossing documented since 2002 — the year the National Park Service began studying mountain lions, the release stated.
The release added that recently another lion ventured to the Liberty Canyon area in Agoura Hills was struck and killed by a vehicle.
“We are fortunate to have vast areas of undeveloped open space for these animals to roam, but we need safe crossing locations for them to keep motorists and animals safe from collisions,” Parks said.
Mountain lions have long been persecuted and hunted as a threat to livestock. Existing threats also include habitat loss and poaching.
For this, the Liberty Canyon area is a proposed wildlife crossing location. A connection between mountain lions on both sides of the 101 Freeway is essential for maintaining long-term genetic health of the population, officials said.