From staff reports
Friday, October 3, 2008
A mountain lion was found dead Thursday on Highway 118 near Simi Valley, and authorities said it was probably hit by a car.
The male lion was found about 8 a.m. near the center divider of Highway 118 just west of Rocky Peak Fire Road, California Department of Transportation spokeswoman Judy Gish said.
The lion was less than 2 years old and weighted about 100 pounds, said Seth Riley, a wildlife biologist with the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. Male mountain lions typically start looking to establish their own territory at about 2 years old.
Riley said the lion was not one of the two he’s tracking with radio collars. One of them with a collar, however, has crossed Highway 118 at least 11 times, mainly using an underpass beneath the freeway. The large concrete tunnel isn’t far from where the dead cat was found.
The problem of mountain lions being trapped by highways is an issue Riley has been studying for years. Although the lion population in the Los Padres National Forest is thought to be robust, cats get trapped in the Santa Monica Mountains, the Simi hills or the Santa Susana Mountains without the ability to return to the national forest.
“The fact is on the 101 and 118, there is almost nowhere left where there is habitat on both sides of the freeway” he said. “It’s too bad this guy didn’t find the underpass.”
The National Park Service collected a blood sample from the dead cat to test for toxins and genetics.
Learn more about big cats and Big Cat Rescue at http://bigcatrescue.org