Study: Southern California’s Coastal Mountain Lions Headed for Extinction

By Center for Biological Diversity

Big Cats’ Habitat Fragmentation Highlights Need for Wildlife Crossings

LOS ANGELES— Mountain lions in California’s Santa Monica and Santa Ana mountains are heading rapidly toward extinction, a new study in Ecological Applications finds. Researchers with UCLA, UC Davis and the National Park Service found that habitat loss and fragmentation have driven the populations to dangerously low levels of genetic diversity.

With inbreeding the Santa Monica population of big cats could go extinct in as few as 15 years. The Santa Ana population may have only 11 years. The study predicted “rapid loss of diversity in both populations,” which would likely lead to extinction unless the mountain lions regularly connect with other populations to increase their genetic diversity.

“This alarming study shows we need state-led efforts to improve habitat connectivity and save mountain lions from being pushed onto roads or into conflict with humans,” said J.P. Rose, an attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Roads limit movement and harm habitats crucial to some of California’s most imperiled creatures. State officials need to create more wildlife crossings so animals have room to thrive.”

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