By Associated Press - Friday, March 20, 2015

CAMARILLO, Calif. (AP) - The National Park Service says a mountain lion from the Santa Monica Mountains successfully crossed U.S. 101 in an important dispersal of the species from the hemmed-in range.

The young female known as P-33 crossed the highway early on March 9 on the Conejo (koh-NAY-oh) Grade in the Camarillo area.

It’s only the second successful crossing of the freeway to be documented since the National Park Service began studying lions in the Santa Monica Mountains in 2002. The last time was in 2009 when a cougar crossed U.S. 101 in the opposite direction.

Wildlife ecologist Seth Riley says GPS tracking shows lions frequently come to the edges of the freeway and turn back.

Dispersal of the lions is critical for maintaining the long-term genetic health of the population.

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