Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area

500+ miles of flat & mountainous hiking trails through coastal chaparral, with views & picnic stops.The Santa Monica Mountains offer easy access to surprisingly wild places. Experience the famous beaches of Malibu or explore more than 500 miles of trails. The park abounds with historical and cultural sites, from old movie ranches to Native American centers. What will you and your family discover? The good news for mountain lions in and around the Santa Monica Mountains is that the population is stable, with healthy rates of survival and reproduction.

The long-term survival of mountain lions in this region, however, is threatened by a number of factors, none more significant than the loss and fragmentation of habitat by roads and development. This leads not only to deaths from vehicle collisions, but also multiple cases of first-order inbreeding because animals are not able to disperse in and out of the area. Genetic analyses indicate that lions in the Santa Monica Mountains, along with a similarly isolated population in the Santa Ana Mountains south of LA, have the lowest levels of genetic diversity ever documented in the West. The only population with lower levels was in south Florida in the mid 90’s when Florida panthers were on their way to extinction.

Another major threat to the species is the widespread presence of anticoagulant rodenticides, commonly known as rat poisons, in the environment. Twenty-eight out of 29 mountain lions tested in the study have tested positive for one or more anticoagulant compounds and seven have died from anticoagulant rodenticide poisoning (as of November 2021).

A leading cause of death for mountain lions in this area is from vehicle strikes. We have documented 24 mountain lions killed by vehicles in our study area since 2002. Another major cause of death for mountain lions in the study is intraspecific strife, or mountain lions killing other mountain lions. Though common in other populations, this rate may be exacerbated by the fact that mountain lions are basically trapped on an island of habitat, surrounded by freeways, development, and the Pacific Ocean.




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