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 Times‘ editorial 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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