Mountain Lion Killed on 405 Freeway, One Day Before Wildlife Crossing Groundbreaking

By City News Service
City News Service
City News Service
April 21, 2022Updated: April 21, 2022

BRENTWOOD, Calif.—A mountain lion was fatally struck by a vehicle Thursday on the San Diego (405) Freeway in the Brentwood area, highlighting the dangers facing the big cats living amid a maze of freeways and the reasoning behind a major wildlife crossing that will break ground Friday.

Officers from the California Highway Patrol received a call just before 1 a.m about an animal lying on the southbound 405 Freeway south of the Getty Center Drive exit. Officers briefly closed the freeway to move the cat out of the freeway lanes.

There was no immediate information on whether the lion was one of dozens being tracked by National Park Service researchers in the Santa Monica Mountains. Ana Cholo of the National Park Service told City News Service the cat is not P-22, the Southland’s most well-known big cat who has roamed the hills of Griffith Park for years. P-22 previously managed to cross the 405 and Ventura (101) freeways.

The lion’s death came one day before a groundbreaking ceremony for the Wallis Annenberg Wildlife Crossing, which will span the 101 Freeway in Liberty Canyon near Agoura Hills. The $85 million project 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.

The Wildlife Crossing is being developed following 20 years of studies from the National Park Service that found roads and urban development are deadly for animals trying to navigate the Los Angeles area. Urban development has also created islands of habitats that can genetically isolate the region’s animals.

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. 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.