LOS ANGELES - A mountain lion was killed after it was struck by a vehicle on the 101 Freeway in Woodland Hills.
According to the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, the mountain lion was struck by a vehicle around 2 a.m. July 18 between the DeSoto and Winnetka Avenue exits.
The male lion is two-years-old and referred to officials as P-89. They say he is the fourth lion in their study to die from "road mortality" this year.
Researchers have estimated that the mountain lion population in the Santa Monica Mountains could become extinct within 50 years without an influx of genetic diversity. The lions are largely isolated due to freeways that act as barriers to movement across the region.
Conservationists hope the $85 million Wallis Annenberg Wildlife Crossing, which will span the 101 Freeway in Liberty Canyon near Agoura Hills, will alleviate the problem when it is completed in 2025. It will be the largest crossing of its kind in the world -- a fully landscaped passage for wildlife that will stretch 210 feet over 10 lanes of highway and pavement.
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The crossing 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.
But some wildlife advocates say one crossing isn't enough.
"Unless we address this serious problem of habitat fragmentation by building more wildlife crossings, we will continue to read heartbreaking headlines of mountain lion fatalities," said Tiffany Yap, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity. The group is sponsoring AB 2344, the Safe Roads and Wildlife Protection Act, which is currently making its way through the state Legislature.
"The death of a young puma who just dispersed from his mother should encourage California leaders to act," Yap added. "When state senators consider the Safe Roads and Wildlife Protection Act next month, I hope they see the gravity of the situation and pass the bill."
City News Service contributed to this report