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Three Mountain Lion Kittens Killed in Santa Monica Mountains

The recent deaths bring a 12-year total to 13.

Liberty Canyon in Agoura Hills is a place where mountain lions like to cross. Photo courtesy of the National Park Service.
Liberty Canyon in Agoura Hills is a place where mountain lions like to cross. Photo courtesy of the National Park Service.

Three mountain lion kittens have been struck and killed by vehicles over the past several weeks in the Santa Monica Mountains and in nearby habitats, scientists reported today.

The first kitten, which was only a few months old, was found dead on Kanan Dume Road in Malibu on Jan. 20. Two other mountain lion kittens, believed to be 10 months old, were found dead Jan. 31 in a remote part of northwest Los Angeles County which connects to the Santa Monica Mountains, the National Park Service reported.

Roads are one of the largest threats to the long-term survival of mountain lions in the Santa Monica Mountains, according to Dr. Seth Riley, an urban wildlife expert at the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.

“If we want to keep mountain lions in the Santa Monica Mountains, we need a better system of wildlife crossings,” Riley said.

The latest deaths bring to 13 the number of mountain lions that have been struck and killed by vehicles during the National Park Service's 12-year study in the Santa Monica Mountains and surrounding habitat.

The mountain lions of the Santa Monica Mountains are bordered by freeways, the Pacific Ocean and the Oxnard agricultural plain. The NPS reports that there are about 15 adults living in the Santa Monica Mountains, and in-breeding is a common problem.

NPS researchers believe that the answer may be in providing a safe wildlife crossing near the Liberty Canyon exit along the Ventura (101) Freeway in Agoura Hills, where a big cat was killed last year.

Caltrans, the Resource Conservation District and the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy are working to start a study about the crossing, including the possibility of adding a tunnel and an overpass. The study, which is not funded, is expected to cost $10 million.

--City News Service

Kelli February 12, 2014 at 12:27 AM
this can't be real. A tunnel, safe crossing? What are they going to do - provide signs for the mountain lions to follow? I hate to think of mountain lion cubs being killed, but come on. For $10m, fix the roads or something realistic.
Penny Arévalo February 12, 2014 at 12:41 AM
The crazy thing is, Agoura Hills is the first city I ever covered as a journalist ... 24 years ago. And they were talking about a wildlife corridor under the freeway at Liberty Canyon back then!
kp February 12, 2014 at 12:25 PM
They have loads of these wildlife overpasses in Canada and they work great. The animals mostly stay off the roads, which also keeps drivers safe as well. I'd rather they spend $10 mil on something that works, like this, as opposed to say, $10 mil on fixing potholes that are never actually fixed.
Penny Arévalo February 12, 2014 at 11:52 PM
You were right, Jon. The writer of the press release acknowledged the wording was unclear. She meant $10 mil for the tunnel. The overpass would probably cost more. Thanks for the nudge!
Yolanda LaCombe Lowery February 13, 2014 at 06:51 PM
I live in Glendale, near Griffith Park. There are several bridges over the Golden State freeway for wild life. I can't believe that these would be more expensive than tunnels.

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