SANTA MONICA—On Friday, December 7, the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area reported that the mountain lion P-64, also known as the “Culvert Cat,” died a few weeks after the Woolsey Fire.
P-64 was a male mountain lion who was around four years old when he died. The cause of death is not currently known, though there are reports that the animal sustained burns on its paws that were caused by the fire. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife will conduct a necropsy.
According to the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area Facebook post on December 7, when the fire first started on the afternoon of November 8, P-64 was in the Simi Hills, north of Oak Park. He continued to travel through the Simi Hills for a few days and traveled several miles before stopping and remaining in a more remote area. A National Park Service biologist found P-64 on November 26 with a telemetry device in an unburned portion of the Simi Hills. With this information, it was thought that P-64 could have been on a kill and survived the fire.
Options in disasters and crisis, such as large scale fires, present a huge problem for larger animals. To retreat to urban areas is more dangerous and conflicts with the animal’s natural instincts to stay in the habitats that they feel comfortable with. P-64
P-64’s home region included the northern Santa Monica Mountains, the Simi Hills, and the Santa Susana Mountains.
“The last GPS point transmitted by the collar was on November 28, but the collars commonly go multiple days without connecting to the satellites and transmitting points. Our biologist hiked in to the location of the last GPS point on December 3 and found P-64’s remains nearby. He appeared to have been dead for a few days,” states a post via the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area Facebook page. “He may have been unable to hunt,” says Kate Kuykendall of the Santa Monica National Recreation Area, “We can get a lot of information from a GPS tracker but not an actual image.”
The rangers and biologists at the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area nicknamed the P-64 the “Culvert Cat” due to the cat’s usage of a storm drain at Liberty Canyon multiple times and for, during the nine months of tracking him, crossing the 101 and 118 Freeways more than 40 times, during the nine months that he was tracked.
For more information on The Culvert Cat, visit his Puma Profile located here: https://www.nps.gov/samo/learn/nature/p-64.htm.