Cars could lead to mountain lions' extinction, study finds

As Southern California continues to mourn the passing of famed mountain lion P-22, the surviving pumas face a dangerous reality.

According to a study released Thursday, cars might be killing cougars faster than they can reproduce.

“Southern California is the undisputed capital of freeways and car culture,” Fraser Shilling, director of the road ecology center at UC Davis, told the Los Angeles Times. “But state highways have turned out to be a dead end for mountain lions.”

Shilling pointed out that many of these cougar deaths occur on highways and freeways on the outskirts of heavily populated areas, such as the Bay Area or near Los Angeles. For instance, P-81 was killed last month in the Santa Monica Mountains on the Pacific Coast Highway.

“Those numbers could suggest that the fewer mountains you have in a given area, the less likely it is to hit one,” he told the Times. “In any case, every time one dies on the road we’re repeating the tragedy of P-22.”

Shilling told KTLA that “there are individual highways that are having much bigger impacts than others.”

Solutions could include building fences around highways and creating more wildlife crossings for animals to traverse freeways.

A celebration of life event for P-22 will be held Saturday in Griffith Park.

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