Conservationists believe young mountain lion found dead on San Jose road was likely hit by car

Zach Fuentes Image
Friday, July 14, 2023
Young mountain lion found dead on South Bay road, officials confirm
A warning to drivers after a young mountain lion was found dead on a South Bay road.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- A warning to drivers after a young mountain lion was found dead on a South Bay road.

The mountain lion was discovered along Santa Teresa Boulevard next to the North Coyote Valley Conservation area in San Jose.

Conservationists are now desperately urging people to do their part to keep it from happening again.

The mountain lion was found by a man driving the stretch of Santa Teresa Boulevard the morning of June 30.

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"I call him a good Samaritan," said Andrea Mackenzie, general manager of the Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority. "He got out of his car and luckily there wasn't a lot of traffic. It was very early morning hours, he removed the lion from the roadway showed respect for this creature and then called us."

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife says they could not do a necropsy to confirm how the mountain lion died because the body was gone when they went to collect it.

Mackenzie says the Open Space Authority feels sure that it was hit by a car.

"This is obviously a very fast roadway, cars are traveling down Santa Teresa Boulevard, sometimes 55 miles an hour," she said. "Certainly at night when there's not a lot of traffic. That's when animals are out."

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North Coyote Conservation Valley was recently protected, originally planned to be a spot for major development. It will stay a critical landscape that connects the Diablo Range and the Santa Cruz Mountains providing thousands of acres for wildlife.

Still, major roadways are still part of the landscape like Highway 101, Monterey Highway and Santa Teresa Boulevard where the mountain lion was found.

Though Highway 101 is dangerous, Mackenzie says wildlife make use of culverts under it to cross.

The other roads can be even worse.

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"Now that we are conserving these landscapes on both sides of 101, we're looking for ways to safely get wildlife across this landscape," Mackenzie said.

That includes wildlife crossing projects like the one now in place at Laurel Curve on Highway 17 in Santa Cruz County.

"We are hoping to have wildlife under crossings and bridges here in Coyote Valley," Mackenzie said, "There's a wildlife bridge under construction on 152 and on highway 101 in San Benito County."

For now though, the ask of the Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority is simple:

"The unfortunate death of this young mountain lion is a wake-up call for all of us," Mackenzie said. "So please slow down for your own life as well as for wildlife."

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