Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Southern California Mountain Lions Face Death by Humans

It is not surprising that mountain lions (Puma concolor) living in densely populated Southern California face slow extinction at the hands of humans. {15.10.14}Although hunting the big cat is illegal in the state, a long term study by UC Davis scientists shows that humans caused more than half the known deaths of mountain lions during the 13 year study. Other causes related to humans--vehicle collisions, poaching, or wildfires--reduced annual survival rates to about 56%. One major obstacle to lion proliferation the study found is I-15, the major interstate connecting San Bernardino, Riverside and San Diego counties. It has proven to be impossible for lions to cross, resulting in a population with declining genetic diversity, long term health and survival. The study's lead author at the UC Davis Wildlife Health Center, says nowhere else in the US except Florida are mountain lions so cut off from habitat and with survival rates so low. The Santa Ana population is especially threatened. Translocations must be considered in order to save from further genetic decline warns the study. Connecting this isolated population with other mountain lions is preferable and could be done by creating safe wildlife crossings at critical junctures. Finding funding for building wildlife crossings in a megatropolis built for highways is not a high priority. Man has forced these creatures to live in his midst, so he should rightly provide means for their continued survival.