Karen C. Drayer Wildlife Health Center

Habitat Fragmentation

Since the main prey of mountain lions are deer, it is understandable that wherever deer are found across western North America, there are likely lions also. With a rapidly increasing population in an area like Southern California, habitat is becoming increasingly fragmented.

Our study has shown that lions will range as far as 200 miles. Most at risk are young males when they leave their mothers, because adult males will not tolerate young males in their territories. They have traveled tremendous distances in order to find a new home. In Southern California, that means crossing freeways.

map: barriers to mountain lion movement in Southern California

Our study has looked at habitat linkages across the Southern California landscape where mountain lions can thrive. Can lions make use of freeway underpasses? Will they?

map: linkages for mountain lion movement in Southern California