LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A radio-collared mountain lion known as P-81 was found dead on Pacific Coast Highway near Las Posas Road in the western Santa Monica Mountains following a likely vehicle strike, the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area announced Friday.
"We are saddened to share mountain lion P-81 was likely killed by vehicle strike Sunday, Jan. 22," the recreation area announced on its official Twitter page.
Officials said California Fish and Wildlife officers collected P-81's body on PCH, and that a necropsy will be performed to confirm the approximately 4-year-old male was killed after being struck.
The lion is one of many Southland-area cats being tracked by National Park Service researchers, and his death comes just over a month after the more- famous P-22 -- known as the "Hollywood Cat" -- was euthanized on Dec. 17.
P-22, who famously crossed by the Ventura (101) and San Diego (405) freeways before taking up a longterm residence in Griffith Park, had been captured in a Los Feliz backyard in a severely underweight and injured condition. It's believed P-22 was also the victim of a vehicle strike, accounting for his injuries. He was believed to be about 11 or 12 years old.
Park Service officials said vehicle strikes are the leading cause of death for mountain lions in their study area.
Since March 2022, officials said, nine mountain lions have died by vehicle strikes, six of them radio-collared.
P-81 is the 34th mountain lion, and the 13th radio-collared cat, to die from road mortality since 2002, according to recreation area officials.
"We initially captured him in western Santa Monica Mountains in March 2020," officials said. "He was significant in our mountain lion study due to his physical abnormalities -- a kinked tail where the end is shaped like the letter `L' and only one descended testicle."
The wildlife experts said the abnormalities "were the first physical evidence of potential inbreeding depression due to lack of genetic diversity since we began studying mountain lions in 2002, increasing the urgency of understanding, maintaining and increasing connectivity for wildlife in the region."
The Wallis Annenberg Wildlife Crossing over the Ventura (101) Freeway is under construction in the Agoura Hills area, and is seen as a "major and critical step" in enabling the big cats and other wildlife to expand their territories -- and do so safely, without having to cross major roads.
The landscaped crossing will span 10 lanes of the 101 Freeway in Liberty Canyon when completed in 2025, and aims to provide a connection between the small population of mountain lions in the Santa Monica Mountains and the larger and genetically diverse populations to the north.