Young Mountain Lion Killed Near Leo Carrillo State Park

March 25 incident is described as a hit and run

By Sam Catanzaro

A mountain lion was killed recently by a car on Pacific Coast Highway near Leo Carrillo State Park in Malibu, marking the fourth such incident this year. 

According to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the young male puma was around six months old based on its teeth.

The incident, which occurred at 11:10 a.m. on Saturday, March 25, has been described by officials as a “hit and run.” A wildlife conflict specialist responded to the scene and collected the animal for a necropsy.

The animal was not collared and was not being tracked for study by any agency. 

Mountain lions in Los Angeles are facing a growing threat on the city’s roads. A National Parks Service study found that the lions are often hit while trying to cross highways to reach new territories, find mates, or search for prey. Wildlife advocates are calling for increased funding for wildlife crossings and other measures to protect the animals, such as the Wallis Annenberg Wildlife Crossing. Spanning 210 feet over 10 lanes of highway and pavement, the bridge will allow wildlife to cross a stretch of the 101 in Liberty Canyon, where around 300,000 cars travel each day. Officials say this crossing will increase connectivity over the most significant barrier to connecting the Santa Monica Mountains to other large natural areas. 

Since 1996, NPS biologists have researched carnivores and other local wildlife in the Santa Monica Mountains and the surrounding region. The project began right in the Liberty Canyon area, with the tracking of bobcats and coyotes, and it expanded to include mountain lions in 2002. Overall, the research has focused on urbanization and habitat fragmentation in wildlife communities. 

The population in the Santa Monica Mountains has one of the lowest levels of genetic diversity in the state or across the west. More recently, biologists have begun to see the physical effects of that low genetic diversity, specifically kinks at the end of tails, a male with only one descended testicle, and poor sperm quality, documented through research conducted by scientists at UCLA. These were all common characteristics linked with inbreeding depression in mountain lions in Florida that nearly went extinct in the early 1990s.

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