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What a Year for #SaveLACougars! Ten Highlights from 2015
What a year for the #SaveLACougars campaign: from seeing the first design concepts of the Liberty Canyon Wildlife crossing, to raising our first $1 million for the campaign, to surprise cougar kittens and bachelors making an appearance, we’ve seen great progress. It also proved to be a difficult year with the loss of P-32, P-34, and others, but this just makes us more determined than ever to ensure these Santa Monica Mountains and Los Angeles area cats have a future.
Let’s look back at the top ten highlights of 2015 as a reminder of how much we (and the cougars themselves) have accomplished in such a short time. We look forward to celebrating even more milestones in 2016!
#1. P-23’s Surprise Kitten: Although National Park Service researchers thought her entire litter had been eaten by a predator, this month they discovered that one of her kittens had survived against all odds. We’ll expect big things from this tough little cougar!
#2: Welcome P-45!: These cougars are just full of surprises! This month, scientists discovered a new 130-pound male in the study area. “During the course of our study, we’ve only been aware of one or two adult males at any given time in the Santa Monica Mountains.” said Jeff Sikich, biologist for the National Park Service. “We’re very interested to learn whether there are now three adult males or whether P-45 successfully challenged one of his competitors.”
#3. Rainn Wilson for #SaveLACougars: We can’t thank actor and author Rainn Wilson enough for lending his humor to a campaign video that helped raise awareness for the cause.
#4. #SaveLACougars raises its first million! In January, the State of California Coastal Conservancy (SCC) voted unanimously to grant $1 million to help fund the environmental assessment and design for the wildlife crossing at Liberty Canyon. Board chairman Douglas Bosco spoke about the merits of the crossing. “I think this is a great project. We’ve appropriated a lot of money for fish passage and other wildlife measures. But this is a very unique project.”
#5: The tragic deaths of P-32 and P-34. These tragic deaths were not highlights but significant events that impacted us all. After crossing four major highways to find a new home, P-32 was tragically killed on the I-5 in August. We were all heartbroken but this just furthered our resolve to help make a safer future for these magnificent cats.
Lab results confirmed that the mountain lion known as P-34 had been exposed to multiple compounds of anticoagulant rodenticide, a form of rat poison. “This is the latest indication that local wildlife continues to be exposed to these rodent poisons,” said Dr. Seth Riley, wildlife ecologist for Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. “We hope that P-34’s death will continue to raise awareness about how anticoagulant rodenticides work their way up the food chain, often with deadly effects.”
#6: P-22 Keeps His Name: A few media outlets this spring ran some contests to rename P-22. Thankfully, his fans fended off attempts to rename him Puma Thurman or Pete Puma.
#7: P-22 and #SaveLACougars featured on national TV! We continue to be so appreciative of the media for telling our stories as we couldn’t make this happen without their help. And this fall, we made our debut on national television with a feature on CBS This Morning!
#8: P-22 Has Left the Building: In April, P-22 was discovered napping in a crawlspace in a Los Feliz home. The resulting media circus, complete with a live feed of the cat peeking out at the cameras and helicopters buzzing the neighborhood, made headlines around the world (including an article in Time Magazine: The Mountain Lion That Was Hiding Under a Los Angeles Home Has Left). The media spectacle wasn’t out of fear, however, but because for the most part people wanted a glimpse of this famous cat, who safely snuck away after officials cleared the area.
#9: San Gabriel Dreamin: Citizen scientist and trail cam hobbyist Johanna Turner, who is also the founder of Cougarmagic, not only helped discover the presence of P-41 in the Verdugo Mountains, but recently got this beautiful and wistful photo of the mother of his kittens.
#10: First concept released of the Liberty Canyon wildlife crossing! In September, the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority (MRCA) released a ground breaking feasibility report prepared by Caltrans that features the first conceptual designs and cost estimates for the crossing. This was a major milestone in the campaign! Design: Resource Conservation District of the Santa Monica Mountains.
The #SaveLACougars campaign was founded by a partnership of the National Wildlife Federation and the Santa Mountain Mountains Fund, and is supported by a large coalition and community of organizations, businesses, individuals and elected officials.