Dismal Prediction For Malibu Cougars As Riverside Contemplates Puma Public Transit

Written by on March 21, 2019

Fifty years.

That’s how long it could take for two populations of mountain lions in Southern California to go extinct under current conditions.

New research published by U-C Davis yesterday paints a bleak picture for the local cougars.

Right now .. odds are 1 in 4 that they will be extinct within 50 years.

Freeways and major roads continue to isolate and in some cases kill the big cats.

The 60 million dollar plus bridge planned to give the cougars a path to genetic diversity …. over the 101 freeway … may be too little … too late.

The freeeway blocks cougars from migrating … a similar situatins is isolating another small population of moutnain lions in the mountains of Orange County … west of Lake aelsionore.

There…. conservationists are considering a desperate and controversial remedy:

Capturing cougars in one part of the Santa Anas and trucking them across the 15 Freeway so that they can breed with isolated mates on the other side of 10-lane-wide Interstate 15.

John Benson, the study’s lead author … says the Malibu and Orange County mountains are in danger of losing the top predator from these two mountain ranges … endangering the functioning of a healthy, intact ecosystem.

Says Benson:

“It’s not enough to just say we have mountain lions in the state, so we don’t need them in these mountain ranges,.”

“We think there is value to maintaining their ecological role within these two isolated mountain ranges.”

But the entire study is not entirely pessimistic.

The trend could change if more animal bridges are built over highways.

“These populations can persist with relatively modest increases in landscape connectivity” according to the scientists.

In the Santa Monica Mountains … National Park Service wildlife ecologist Seth Riley reacts to the new study.

He says it is sobering to see the fast rates of extinction the predictions … 

But he adds … “it is also really heartening to see how much of a difference increasing connectivity can make for these isolated populations.”

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