Mountain Lions vs. Housing: Great Editorial

Image by Capri23auto from Pixabay.

This fantastic editorial first appeared in the LA Times on July 6, 2019. It discusses the conflict between two crucial needs for southern California: increased housing and mountain lion (Puma concolor) conservation.

As I’ve written before, Los Angeles is unique for being one of only two mega cities with a population of large cats.

Unfortunately, the mountain lions living in and around LA are threatened, among other things, by a lack of habitat connectivity. The cats are hemmed in by housing developments and separated from one another by a major highway (the 101), which leads to inbreeding and a dangerously high density of mountain lions in a small area.

Unless LA’s lions are able to cross Highway 101 and move about more easily, their extinction seems inevitable.

But, as important as conservation is, California also has a housing crisis: there just aren’t enough, affordable living spaces for everyone – which is the main reason I left the state after completing my master’s thesis. Thus, LA is considering housing projects that would put even more pressure on the city’s cornered felines.

The LA Timeseditorial does a good job of explaining the situation. It makes the case that, as important as housing is, new developments need to preserve mountain lions’ habitat connectivity.

I agree – shocking though it may seem. California’s housing crisis is real, but LA should be proud of the fact that it still boasts a population of large cats. I’m fine with adding new housing, but developers should be required to work with biologists to leave room for LA’s lions.

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