A male cougar known to the public since kitten-hood for his bravery in crossing local freeways tried his best to stick to his true nature – and it cost him his life. P-32, as he was called, was the only cougar known to have successfully crossed a bustling LA freeway. But despite his success in the past, the cougar was killed early on Monday morning after being struck by a vehicle while attempting to cross the 5 freeway.
P-32, so-called for the number assigned by the National Park Service, had previously been tracked crossing the 101 and other freeways in order to get a little more room to stretch his legs. At that time, the National Park Service tracked him heading north out of the Santa Monica Mountains.
Mountain lions are obviously not urban animals, needing a territory of 75 to 200 square miles in which to freely roam. The interlooping network of freeways around Los Angeles made that quite a challenge for the intrepid feline, but he had overcome the challenge before. However, competition with another male cougar inspired P-32 to disperse to another territory, and he chose the 5 as his exit route this time. Unfortunately, the 5 is a much wider and busier trafficked highway than the others he had crossed in the past, making the attempt even more dangerous this time around.
The public mourns the death of P-32, and NPS researchers will perform a necropsy to determine whether he had any health issues that could have contributed to his demise. In the meantime, many are trying to remain optimistic about the future for urban wildlife in the city by celebrating the recent birth of two new cougar kittens, named/numbered P-43 and P-44.
Images via National Park Service