For humans, Southern California’s freeways link distant communities that are otherwise separated by rugged mountains, vast deserts and inland valleys.
For mountain lions, however, those multilane speedways are concrete killing fields that divide animals into isolated genetic pools, researchers say.
Unable to surmount these near-impenetrable barriers, mountain lions and other wildlife are left to mate with their own offspring. That inbreeding can lead to sterility and other physical ailments that threaten the species’ continued survival in Southern California.
Restricted territory has also caused adult males to kill younger mountain lions, as happened to at least one lion between 2001 and 2003. Others have been poisoned by human-laid traps left for smaller animals.
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