Many of us have never seen a mountain lion up close and personal, yet lions have a distinct presence among us. From security camera footage to social media posts of P-22 — the famed mountain lion in Southern California — you might think mountain lions are thriving. You’d be wrong.
Scientists fear that as their turf and their gene pool continue to shrink, cougars (as they sometimes are called) could go extinct within decades in regions where they now roam. Fast cars, rat poison and a fragmented habitat are just some of the deadly challenges faced by mountain lions and other imperiled species. When a lion known to biologists as P-54 was struck by a car and killed in June, her death marked three generations of mountain lions lost on dangerous roads in the Santa Monica Mountains. Her son had died months earlier and her mother died in 2018. A month later, P-89 died on the 101 Freeway in Los Angeles, becoming the fourth cougar in the area to die by car strikes in five months.