National Park Service recently published research that shows the mountain lion population in the Santa Monica Mountains is threatened by extinction due to inbreeding within the next 50 years caused by the poor connectivity of habitat large enough to support these iconic creatures. The permanent loss of the Southern California mountain lion would be devastating for conservation but more importantly for the entire ecosystem because as apex predators they play a key role in the health of the landscape.
Carnivore populations are some of the best indicators of urban impacts because they have lower densities and larger space requirements than any other group. This is most dramatically true for the last large carnivore in the Santa Monica Mountains which requires healthy deer populations to survive, maintains home ranges of hundreds of square miles, and disperses over great distances. Because mountain lions move and disperse over such a large area they are also particularly valuable for better understanding whether remaining preserved natural areas are effectively ecologically connected.
LDF partnered with the National Park Service on their GPS collar tracking study to conserve and protect the threatened mountain lion population in the greater Los Angeles area. The goal of the LDF funded study is to understand the behavior and ecology of mountain lions throughout greater Los Angeles. Knowledge gained will be used to better conserve mountain lions, as well as the habitats and wildlife populations they need to survive. Lessons learned will help better inform outreach, education, and conservation efforts locally and around the world.