On July 19, a Southern California mountain lion accomplished a daunting feat: He safely crossed the 405 freeway, the first collared mountain lion to do so in the National Park Service's 17-year study of the mountain lions who live in and around the Santa Monica Mountains. Other mountain lions have died trying. Less than two months later, though, P-61 attempted to cross back over the 405—and was killed. The California Highway Patrol located and moved P-61's body near Sepulveda Pass in Los Angeles around 4am Saturday, KTLA reports. "His final GPS point indicates that he was between Bel Air Crest Road and the Sepulveda Boulevard underpass," a Santa Monica Mountains NPS Instagram post reads. "The four-year-old cat had crossed the massive 10-lane freeway near the Sepulveda Pass area just a couple of months ago."
While it's not clear why P-61 decided to return to the other side of the highway, the NPS notes in its post that an uncollared male mountain lion appears to live in the area where P-61 had been spending most of his time in recent days. "Male mountain lions do not play well together, they do not share the same habitat. They need their own space, and so, possibly, they got into a scuffle," a Santa Monica Mountains spokesperson tells KTLA. "If that’s the case, then he was trying to get away from the other mountain lion." At least 19 mountain lions have been fatally struck by vehicles in the area since 2002, and environmentalists are concerned they could face extinction in the next few decades thanks to the fact that freeways keep them trapped in isolated habitats, which has led to low genetic diversity. A planned wildlife crossing is set to be completed by 2023. (A mountain lion walked 1,800 miles only to be killed by an SUV.)