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.
- See a photo of one of the kittens here. WARNING, graphic content.
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