Another mountain lion has died in Los Angeles, more than a month after P-22, a popular local mountain lion who inspired conservation efforts, was killed in December after being struck by a vehicle.
P-81, a four-year-old mountain lion, died on Jan. 22 after being hit by a car, according to the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. Vehicle strikes have killed nine mountain lions in the Santa Monica Mountains research area since March 2022.
P-81 was taken in March 2020 by researchers from the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area and fitted with a radio collar. P-81 was notable in their study, according to the researchers, because of his physical abnormalities, which included a kinked tail and a deformed reproductive organ.
According to the researchers, those traits were early signs of inbreeding among the cougar population, raising concerns about the animal’s health. Researchers later discovered that the Santa Monica Mountains’ mountain lions have some of the lowest genetic diversity ever known, second only to Florida panthers in the 1990s.
According to the National Park Service, Los Angeles and Mumbai are the only two megacities in the world with a population of big cats; however, the spread of roads and traffic has fragmented the cats’ habitats, and fast-moving cars have contributed to 34 big cat fatalities in California since 2002.
Another mountain lion, P-22, became a local celebrity in Los Angeles, inspiring the development of the Wallis Annenberg Animals Crossing across the 101 Motorway, which would connect marooned wildlife, including mountain lions, to populations north of the city without crossing the busy freeway. P-22 was put down in December after showing strange behavior, including killing a chihuahua and attacking other dogs. P-22 was killed by veterinarians after they found he had been struck by a car and suffered from a number of other ailments.
P-22 died after a public outpouring of love for the famous big cat, whose rise to fame in a city famed for its celebrities inspired a generation of conservationists. His death sparked a front-page obituary in the Los Angeles Times, with the Sunday edition’s front-page headline reading, “Improbable trek led puma to win Angelenos’ hearts.”
“P-22’s survival on an island of wilderness in the heart of Los Angeles captivated people around the world and revitalized efforts to protect our diverse native species and ecosystems,” said California Gov. Gavin Newsom.