Hazardous Habitat

The hills around Los Angeles offer prime cougar real estate—shrubland and forests filled with deer—but survival rates can be lower than in some hunted populations because of several threats.

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Springs Fire
From May 2 to 11 this year, a wildfire consumed nearly 16 percent of the Santa Monica Mountains’ most undeveloped land.

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Rodenticide Poisoning
The only known dead so far are cats P3 and P4. They moved between the Santa Susana Mountains and the Simi Hills via an equestrian tunnel.

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Lucky Crossing
P12, a new male from the north, made it over the deadly 101, bringing welcome genetic diversity. A proposed tunnel could help more cats cross safely.

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Marooned in L.A.
Cougar P22’s tracking collar records his whereabouts every few hours. This sampling, taken between April and June 2012, shows that he stays within Griffith Park and adjoining green spaces.

P22 Locations

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Deadly Stretch
Despite numerous designated wildlife crossings, the 241 toll road is the most fatal highway for cougars south of Los Angeles.

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M56 The only GPS-collared cougar known to have crossed I-15 alive, cat M56 traveled another 110 miles south before being shot for preying on domestic sheep.

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Maps: Martin Gamache and Matthew Twombly, NGM Staff
Sources: Seth Riley and Jeffrey Sikich, Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area; Winston Vickers, Holly Ernest, Walter Boyce, UC Davis Wildlife Health Center; California Department of Conservation