Mountain lions living in Santa Monica Mountains will disappear within the next 50 years if something is not done to protect them
Mountain lions living in Santa Monica Mountains may go extinct within the next 50 years if steps are not taken to protect their population.
According to a new research, big cats in the mountains near north and west of Los Angeles are forced to live in isolation. Urban development, highway construction and other man-made obstructions have separated this small population from the rest of the species and left them with limited mating opportunities. The lack of breading opportunities will ultimately drive L.A. mountain lions towards extinction.
National Park Service and wildlife ecologists have been tracking mountain lion population in and around Santa Monica Mountains, their health and their habits since 2002 and are trying to understand how human development and urbanization is impacting these big cats. After analyzing more than a decade long data, researchers came to conclusion that L.A. mountain lions have 99.7 percent chances of disappearing over the course of next 50 years unless humans do something for their protection and survival.
Mountain lions need new mates to sustain their genetic diversity, which is not possible if they are not allowed to move around the area. Decreased breeding options are resulting in offspring with birth defects such as hole in the heart and male fertility. Such problems can quickly put an animal population at the risk of extinction.
Fortunately, mountain lion population in Santa Monica Mountains is currently stable and even has chances to increase their population if man-made obstructions do not interfere with their environment.
“The habitat we do have in the Santa Monicas is pretty good: they’re finding enough deer to eat and they’re eating and they’re staying out of major conflicts with people. But the area is just too small, genetically and demographically.” Study co-author Seth Riley, a wildlife ecologist for the park service told The Los Angeles Times.
Experts believe if even only new mountain lion cross over into Santa Monica Mountains every few year, it would be enough to maintain their population and lower the risk of extinction to below 3 percent.