Mountain lion killed in attempt to cross 405 Freeway

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One of a handful of mountain lions living in the Santa Monica Mountains was killed Tuesday trying to cross the 405 Freeway near the Getty Center at the start of morning rush hour.

The National Park Service got a call from the California Department of Transportation informing the agency that one of the mountain lions it had outfitted with a tracking device had been hit by a car near the Getty on-ramp between 6 and 7:30 a.m. “We believe it may have made such a daring crossing attempt possibly because it was being flushed out of the area it was in by another male lion,” said Woody Smeck, superintendent of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.

The 15-month-old male, known as P-18, was one of three kittens born last year in the recreation area and had been tracked since he was a few weeks old. He started to roam eastward from his mother’s home range in Malibu Creek State Park earlier this summer and Tuesday wound up in the southbund lanes of the 405 near the Getty on-ramp.

Smeck said another mountain lion was killed crossing the 405 in the same area three years ago. The park service believes the Santa Monicas are home to six to eight of the animals, including the father, P-12, and brother, P-15, of the animal killed this week.


The father had better luck navigating Southern California traffic. He crossed the 101 Freeway more than two years ago near the border of Los Angeles and Ventura counties and has lived in the Santa Monicas since then.

Smeck said the park service has talked to Caltrans about installing a fence during the 405 widening project that would funnel wildlife into an underpass near the Getty or building a bridge suitable for wildlife crossings.

“It is clearly a challenge,” Smeck said of the 405, one of the busiest freeways in the region.


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