|Santa Monica female P-13 on a kill, courtesy NPS|
Inbreeding is also threatening the health of lions in the Santa Monica Mountains. A study by National Park Service scientists shows that the 101 Freeway has caused a similar restriction in the movement of these cougars resulting in a higher proportion of pumas dying in conflicts with other pumas. P22 is the most famous lion in the Los Angeles area because he managed to cross two freeways and lives now in Griffth Park, but without available females to mate. He is a genetic deadend. No lion has been known to successfully leave the Santa Monicas and breed. P12 crossed into the Santa Monicas from the north and his bold legacy is reflected in the genetic structure of the isolated population. These two Southern California puma populations have among the lowest genetic diversity of lions studied, approaching that of the highly endangered Florida panthers. The Florida panther population was stabilized by the introduction of females from outside the state at the cost of millions. Such relocation projects are controversial both from a cost and biological standpoint. Caltrans has applied for $2m in federal funds to construct a wildlife bridge across Hwy 101 near Liberty Canyon expected to cost $10m. These puma studies show roads and other human development have definite adverse impacts on wildlife that can be measured in their DNA.