One young female mountain lion recently took a leap from her Santa Monica Mountain homelands toward the wider and bigger pastures north toward the Santa Susana Mountains – and wildlife researchers are rejoicing. The 16-month old lioness, being tracked as P-33, someone managed to cross the eight-lane 101 freeway near Camarillo and now is exploring new territory away from the confines of the Santa Monicas.
P-33’s crossing is the only second documented passage of a mountain lion across the freeway since National Parks scientists have first put the urban lions under the microscope in 2002.
But P-33 is the first female to make a safe passage; the other lion, P-12, was a male and he was going from north to south. Typically, young males are the ones to roam and make a break from their original home to establish new territories.
Scientists hope that P-33 will find a genetically unrelated mate in the Santa Susanas; inbreeding is a concern to all the big cats in the Santa Monica’s. But it’s still not a cake walk for P-33; she’s going to navigate another gauntlet of homes and development to eventually get to the Santa Susanas. But a cat with this kind of moxie may just do it.
Still in the planning stages is a wildlife corridor at Liberty Canyon which will allow critters of all sizes to cross the 101 without fighting traffic. If – or when – that is completed; these kinds of crossings will be so commonplace and not big news stories.