WASHINGTON: Mountain lions in California are under threat from problems like wildfires and loss of habitat, and a massive effort is underway to try and keep them out of harm’s way. 

Even though they are a protected species, there are now less than 4, 500 mountain lions – also known as cougars or pumas – in the whole of California. Only a dozen are left in the Santa Monica Mountains.

These animals inhabit diverse habitat types across California, including temperate redwood forest, foothills and mountains. But they are losing their habitat as humans encroach on these spaces.

Squeezed into smaller areas, some end up roaming just outside of the highly populated city of Los Angeles. Some are killed by cars on highways as they try to move around. 

“So if you’re trying to wander to find food or mates or shelter in an area where you have to cross some of the world’s busiest freeways, it’s not a good scenario,” said Beth Pratt, California regional executive director at the United States’ National Wildlife Federation.

“And indeed, what the National Park Service research over two decades has shown is these guys are going to literally vanish from this landscape if we don’t do something.”

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