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My Home Is Shrinking

We mountain lions may seem fierce, but only 56% of us will survive a given year in Southern California. Habitat loss has created a trifecta of risks that will kill so many of my friends and family: car collisions, shootings (both illegal and specially permitted after a lion kills livestock or pets), and the inability to find or breed with a genetically diverse mate. Researchers tracking us often see us trying to go about our daily lives while suffering from fractured legs, head trauma, and gunshot wounds; and almost all of us have rat poison in our stomachs and kidney disease.

I’ve painted you a terribly sad picture, and it’s true that I am afraid for my future—some nearby populations of my mountain lion friends could be extinct within 12 years. But small steps are trying to address each of the three main killers. Recent land conservation purchases, by the Nature Conservancy, may make a safe crossing of I-15 possible south of Temecula, reducing car strikes. Keeping existing undercrossings open—like the ones under the Valley Center grade—are essential for our survival. To reduce legal shootings, a pilot program is being tested in two counties that would require landowners to try two non-lethal methods to scare us away before permitting our death.

And this is where you at The Escondido Creek Conservancy come in. On unprotected land, even when there is high quality habitat there, there is often just enough human disruption to scare us away. We have shown researchers that we’re more likely to make use of protected land for travel, meaning I’ll have a better chance to find a mate that’s not my cousin. So go ahead and be kind to us mountain lions—help connect those “missing lynx”!

Title photo by: Fernando Muñoz Flores