The mountain lion P-22. Photo courtesy National Park Service.
The mountain lion P-22. Photo courtesy National Park Service.

The driver of the vehicle that struck and killed a young mountain lion on the Golden State (5) Freeway earlier this week did not stop after the accident, a parks official said Thursday.

The mountain lion known as P-32 — the only male known to have successfully ventured north out of the Santa Monica Mountains — was fatally struck while trying to cross the freeway in Castaic early Monday, according to the National Park Service.

Based on GPS data from his collar, he was likely struck between 4 and 6 a.m., according to the NPS.

“We don’t know anything about the driver,” Kate Kuykendall, spokeswoman for the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, told the Los Angeles Times.

P-32 was 21 months old. He had been tagged by the park service when he was four weeks old.

The cougar had previously crossed the Ventura (101) Freeway and three other highways in the Thousand Oaks and Simi Valley areas, according to parks officials.

“This case illustrates the challenges that mountain lions in this region face, particularly males,” said Santa Monica wildlife ecologist Seth Riley. “P-32 conquered all kinds of freeways and highways to reach the Los Padres (National Forest), but it was probably another dominant male that made him leave the area and attempt one last crossing, which obviously was not successful.”

Parks officials said only one male mountain lion born in the Santa Monica Mountains is known to have survived into adulthood — P-22, who roams Griffith Park. P-22 crossed both the 101 Freeway and the San Diego (405) Freeway to make it to the park, but officials said they do not consider his movement out of the mountains to be “successful” because he is now in an isolated area with no chance of reproducing.

According to the Caltrans website, the agency has applied for federal funds to build a safe mountain lion overpass at the 101 Freeway at Liberty Canyon Road in Agoura Hills.

P-32 is the 12th mountain lion killed on a freeway or road since researchers began studying them in 2002.

— City News Service 

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