Mountain lion killed on Highway 60 in Diamond Bar part of surge in road deaths – Daily Bulletin

A mountain lion recently hit and killed by a vehicle on Highway 60 in Diamond Bar has added to the growing carnage of wild roadside cougars squeezed by shrinking territory in the mountains and hills of Southern California.

The carcass of a young and otherwise healthy male cougar was collected from the shoulder of westbound Highway 60 near Golden Springs Road on April 3 by Dr. Winston Vickers, a wildlife veterinarian from the ‘UC Davis studying feral cats living in the open spaces of Orange, Riverside, San Diego, San Bernardino, and eastern Los Angeles counties.

Named M-318, after the 318th mountain lion studied by Vickers, the cougar weighed 142 pounds and was about 30 months old, Vickers said on Wednesday (April 13). The animal was in good health and one of the largest seen by Vickers. ‘ during his 20 years of research with the UC Davis Wildlife Health Center. Vickers tethered 100 cougars for tracking and sampled more than 200 deceased mountain lions from the Santa Ana, San Bernardino and San Gabriel mountain ranges and nearby hills.

M-318 was looking for new territory or perhaps escaping an alpha male, Vickers surmised. Often fighting for territory with other men escalates into a fight to the death, he said. With habitat engulfed by housing and industrial warehouses and criss-crossed by busy highways, the quest for self-reliance becomes more difficult and often deadly, he said.

The animal was most likely hit late April 2, Vickers said, and showed abrasions on its head and body. The CHP log data does not include the motorist who hit the cat, most likely indicating it was a hit-and-run. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife was called but did not respond, according to Tim Daly, a spokesman for the agency. Vickers was notified by Caltrans, Daly said.

Collisions with vehicles are the leading cause of death for these magnificent felines, whose scientific classification is Cougar concolors. Cougars are considered endangered species by the CDFW.

In 2020, Vickers’ team captured and radio-collared nine mountain lions. In less than a year, six of the nine people died in roadside collisions, he said.

“These Southern California guys have low survival rates. They are among the lowest survival rates” of any region, he said.

In March, the P-104 puma was the first killed on the Pacific Coast Highway when it was hit by a car while trying to cross the highway in Malibu. The lion wore a collar and was part of the National Park Service’s Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area Study. This is the 25th lion killed by a car since the study began in 2002, said Ana Beatriz Cholo, spokeswoman for the SMMNRA’s National Park Service.

As M-318, the cougar killed at Diamond Bar, had no collar, he had not been tracked. A post-mortem examination performed by the California Animal Health and Food Safety Lab in San Bernardino will point to genetic marks that could identify the origin of M-318, Vickers said.

“It’s probably more likely that he was in the Chino Hills and for some reason decided to walk around the residential areas,” he said.

Chino Hills State Park has had several recent sightings of cougars, said Claire Schlotterbeck, co-founder of Hills For Everyone, the group that created the 14,107-acre state park bordering Los Angeles, San Bernardino Counties , Orange and Riverside.

Three years ago, a maintenance worker saw a cougar lying on the floor in a park restroom taking a nap, she said Thursday, April 14. A ranger saw a mountain lion earlier this year in the area of ​​the park known as Lower Aliso, near Coal Canyon and the Green River Golf Course, she said.

Schlotterbeck suspects M-318 also passed through an area called Tres Hermanos, a 2,445-acre reserve formerly owned by City of Industry, located in Diamond Bar and Chino Hills and now owned by a conservation authority.

The Puente-Chino Hills range has a history of mountain lions, including a mating pair identified by a biologist in the 1990s, she said.

Young male lions are more likely to roam, looking for territory, food or starting a family, Vickers said.

“These are usually the ones that end up in people’s backyards and urban areas,” he added. “They will follow a drainage ditch or a path that will sometimes get them in trouble.”

A mountain lion was recently found wandering around an Irvine shopping center until it walked through the door of an open store and was tranquilized by a veterinarian. He was given a radio collar and released into the Santa Ana Mountains. Since being collared, Vickers said it was the first he had seen crossing Highway 91 and the Santa Ana River.

He speculates that M-318 may have also crossed the Santa Ana River from the southern portion of Chino Hills State Park on its journey. Vickers said he wouldn’t call it a new trend, adding that it’s common for young men to walk around. The lion that ended up in Irvine had crossed a culvert but returned to commercial and residential areas, he noted.

Efforts to widen culverts to allow wildlife to pass safely under freeways are underway in Riverside County. In Temecula Creek, the Nature Conservancy is studying ways to get the animals under Highway 15 to connect isolated lion populations in the Santa Ana Mountains to the west with those in the Palomar Mountains.

Additionally, two concrete underpasses connect the north and south sides of Highway 60 at the site of new truck lanes between Moreno Valley and Beaumont.

This section of Highway 60, known as the Badlands, saw the deaths of a bobcat and a mountain lion in 2020.

In western Los Angeles County, near Ventura County, groundbreaking is set next week for the $87 million Liberty Canyon Wildlife Crossing in the Agoura Hills, covering a section 10 lanes from Highway 101 and connecting the Simi Hills to the Santa Monica Mountains, says the National Park Service’s Cholo.

There are approximately 20,000 to 30,000 cougars in the United States. California has the highest population of any state, around 4,000 to 6,000, according to the AZ Animals website.

Comments are closed.