National Park Service

The Future Is Pretty Grim For LA's Mountain Lions

If the cats in the Los Angeles area continue inbreeding, researchers say there's a 99.7 percent chance they'll be extinct in the next half-century.

By Lindsey Pulse | September 1, 2016

The mountain lion population around Los Angeles could become extinct in the next 50 years.

UCLA published a study on Wednesday that found urban development — particularly highways — on the coast of California has suppressed the reproduction of mountain lions.

One stretch of highway is isolating a small group of the cats in the Santa Monica Mountains, away from the rest of their species. It's causing "inbreeding depression."

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SEE MORE: A Majority Of The World's Largest Animals Could Be Extinct By 2100

Inbreeding depression happens when small populations of a species lose diversity over time. And if this continues, experts say there's a 99.7 percent chance LA mountain lions will go extinct in the next 50 years.

But displaced mountain lions could cause a more immediate risk for people. Urbanization has forced the animals in some parts of the city to wander a little too close for comfort.

Last year, a mountain lion known to wildlife officials was found living under a person's home.

And in April, a mountain lion caused a lockdown at a California high school.

Solutions are in the works. Last year, city officials proposed a multimillion-dollar overpass for wildlife to help the cats avoid being hit by cars. That project is currently in development.

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