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Two mountain lion kittens killed on 126 Freeway, officials say

Two mountain lion kittens killed on 126 Freeway, officials say
Approximate location, shown in orange, where two mountain lions were killed on the 126 Freeway. (Bing Maps)

Two mountain lion kittens were fatally struck by vehicles on the 126 Freeway near the northwest border of Los Angeles County, the National Park Service said.

The approximately 10-month-old kittens were hit Jan. 31, less than two weeks after another kitten was killed on Kanan Road in Malibu.

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The multiple fatalities in recent weeks have raised concern about the remaining mountain lion population and the effect of roads on their continued survival.

A National Park Service team has captured and collared more than 20 cougars in the Santa Monica Mountains during long-term study, including one particularly urban mountain lion known as P-22.  During the 12-year study, a total of 13 mountain lions have been struck and killed by vehicles, according to a statement from the park service.

Roads and freeways trap the mountain lions on an "island of habitat," spokeswoman Kate Kuykendall said in the statement. In total, "the mountain lion population appears to be limited to 15 adults, far too few for long-term genetic or demographic viability," she said.

National Park Service researchers said a better system of wildlife crossings are necessary to keep mountain lions in the Santa Monica Mountains.

Twitter: @MattStevensLAT

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