Local Mountain Lion Killed After Likely Vehicle Collision

P-78 dies after getting hit by a car, rangers say

By Sam Catanzaro 

A young mountain lion died recently after likely getting hit by a vehicle.

According to the National Park Service (NPS) On December 26, 2020, biologists received a mortality signal from mountain lion P-78’s radio collar, a male mountain lion living in the Santa Susana Mountains. The NPS noted that P-78 had a habit of crossing the I-5 Freeway. NPS biologists found the young cat’s body along San Francisquito creek, a tributary of the Santa Clara River in Valencia. According to the NPS,he had a broken front left leg, and it appeared that he had been hit by a car. 

His body was submitted to the California Animal Health and Food Safety (CAHFS) Lab in San Bernardino for a necropsy and testing. According to recent necropsy results, he also tested positive to exposure to five anticoagulant rodenticide compounds and bromethalin. 

The NSP says that prior to his death, he appeared to have been doing well. Biologists had recaptured P-78 in November 2020 in the eastern Santa Susana Mountains at Towsley Canyon to replace his GPS collar because the battery was due to fail soon. 

He was initially captured in the central Santa Monica Mountains as a subadult in December 2019. He then traveled west and crossed the 101 Freeway at the Conejo Grade. He spent some time in Wildwood, then crossed Highway 23 followed by Highway 118 in the Rocky Peak area. He had been living in the eastern Santa Susana Mountains before his death. 

“He regularly would cross beneath the I-5 along the Santa Clara River. At one point, he even went way up into the Angeles National Forest before coming back to the Santa Susana Mountains,” the NPS said. 

P-78 is the 23rd mountain lion, and the 7th radio collared animal, to die from road mortality in the study area since 2002. 

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