As Los Angeles prepares to celebrate the life of P-22, a new study shows that mountain lions are being killed on California roads and highways faster than they can reproduce.
Data from the study, published this week by the UC Davis Road Ecology Center, shows that between 2015 and 2022, one or two mountain lions were killed every week on roads and highways across the state.
That number has gradually decreased over the past several years, but researchers said it's not clear whether that's due to a decline in the mountain lion population itself or other factors.
A statewide mountain lion population estimate is currently pending, researchers said.
The study also found that some of the most dangerous places that mountain lions could live are near the 15 Freeway south of Temecula and the Ortega Highway in the Santa Ana Mountains.
Experts suspect P-22 was hit by a car after observing severe injuries and chronic health problems in the feline. After he was captured for a health assessment last year, wildlife officials decided it was best to euthanize the cat.
However, there are efforts to prevent the animals from being hit. In Southern California, crews are constructing a wildlife crossing over the 101 Freeway near Agoura Hills. The crossing will span over 10 lanes.
Advocates hope it will save the local mountain lion population from extinction and expand the gene pool.
"This wildlife crossing is a game-changer for the ecological system, for the Santa Monica Mountains, which was basically cut off from the rest of the world when the 101 went in. That isolation has devastating effects, obviously the mountain lions and if we don't do this will likely vanish here from our lifetime," said Beth Pratt, regional executive director with the National Wildlife Federation.
P-22 was L.A. most famous mountain lion. On Saturday, the wildlife federation will put on a celebration of life for the big cat at the Greek Theatre. Tickets have already sold out, but the ceremony will be live streamed starting at noon.