A mountain lion was found dead Wednesday on the Ventura (101) Freeway in Calabasas.

“It’s always unfortunate when this happens, but CHP located a mountain lion that appeared to have been struck and killed by a vehicle along the U.S.-101 Freeway in Calabasas this morning,” the California Highway Patrol’s West Valley Area office posted on Twitter, with a photo of the dead animal near the center divider of the freeway.

The Santa Monica Mountains posted on its Twitter page that the mountain lion’s death was “unfortunate.”

“We don’t know if this lion is one of our study animals. We will pick up its carcass on Friday. It will then undergo a full necropsy,” the Santa Monica Mountains said on its Twitter page.

J.P. Rose with the Center for Biological Diversity said the latest “unnecessary” death “underscores the need for wildlife crossings and better land-use planning.”

“While state wildlife officials have taken steps to temporarily protect these cats under the state’s Endangered Species Act, L.A. County continues to approve damaging sprawl projects that will block remaining wildlife corridors. California’s big cats deserve better,” Rose said in a statement.

Planning and fundraising is underway for a wildlife crossing over the 101 Freeway in the Liberty Canyon area of Agoura Hills that would 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.

Beth Pratt, the California regional executive director of the National Wildlife Federation and the leader of the #SaveLACougars campaign, said she was “devastated and heartbroken that yet another mountain lion has been senselessly killed trying to cross our roads, this time on the 101 Freeway very close to the site of the proposed wildlife crossing at Liberty Canyon.”

“This magnificent mountain lion deserved better than this brutal death,” Pratt said. “These cats are fighting to survive and this animal’s tragic death is one more reminder that mountain lions will disappear from the Los Angeles area and other places in California if we don’t take action to protect them,” she said. “Our team is working to solve this. The wildlife crossing at Liberty Canyon will help prevent these needless deaths and the extinction of this threatened population of mountain lions.”

In a unanimous decision in April, the California Fish and Game Commission moved a step closer to protecting six struggling mountain lion populations, including those in the Santa Monica and Santa Ana mountains, under the state’s Endangered Species Act.

The commission’s decision cleared the way for a yearlong review on whether the six populations of mountain lions should be formally protected under the state act, with the act’s full protections applying during the yearlong candidacy period.

Supporters are seeking “threatened species protection” — which is designed to protect species that at risk of extinction in the foreseeable future without improved management — involving the “most imperiled populations” of mountain lions in California, according to Tiffany Yap, a biologist at the Center for Biological Diversity and primary author of the petition.

The state Department of Fish and Wildlife had recommended the move shortly after P-56, a male mountain lion in the critically endangered Santa Monica population, was killed in January under a state-issued depredation permit by a landowner who had lost livestock to the big cat.

The National Park Service — which has been studying mountain lions in and around the Santa Monica Mountains since 2002 — reported last month that a mountain lion that was collared last November in an urban neighborhood in Northridge and subsequently found dead in January died directly from the effects of anticoagulant rat poison.

P-76 was the sixth collared mountain lion to die of coagulopathy and the third in the last two years, and researchers have documented the presence of anticoagulant rodenticide compounds in 26 of 27 local mountain lions that have been tested, including a 3-month-old kitten, officials said then.

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