Orange County mountain lion Uno among 3 big cats recently struck, killed in SoCal

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LOS ANGELES (KABC) — It’s been a particularly deadly week for Southern California mountain lions after three of the big cats were struck and killed by vehicles in different parts of the Southland.

A female mountain lion identified as F312 by wildlife officials, but known throughout Orange County as Uno, was killed while trying to cross Santiago Canyon Road last week, according to the Mountain Lion Project.

Uno earned her name because she only had one eye that worked.

“She’s the perfect example of a cat that did everything right,” said Beth Pratt, a regional executive director in California for the National Wildlife Federation. “She navigated a really challenging environment, but car versus mountain lion — the car is always going to win.”

Pratt says what makes Uno’s death even more tragic is that the big cat was pregnant.

At least two other local mountain lions died trying to cross roadways over the past week. A female cougar was killed on Las Virgenes Road in Calabasas, and on Tuesday a cougar was found dead on the shoulder of the 60 Freeway near Diamond Bar.

“It’s terribly heartbreaking,” said wildlife photographer Robert Martinez of EcoFlix. “These three deaths in the recent week is just another devastating blow.”

A recent study found California’s entire mountain lion population to be between 3,500 to 4,500, which is lower than wildlife experts expected.

They say with so many major freeways weaving through Southern California, the big cats are hemmed in and paying for it.

“Since they can’t cross roadways successfully, they get killed or turned around,” Pratt told Eyewitness News. “They get genetically isolated and start inbreeding.”

Getting mountain lions safely across freeways is the goal of the Wallis Annenberg Wildlife Crossing that is being built over the 101 Freeway in Calabasas. It is still under construction, but Pratt says it is slated to open in late 2025 or early 2026.

“With wildlife crossings… you build it, they work. Where these are put in, they’re up to 97% successful,” she said. “I can’t wait to see that first mountain lion cross.”

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