Mountain lions (Puma concolor) are remarkably reclusive apex predators adept at avoiding humans. When hemmed in by paved roads and high fences, however, mountain lions are often forced to interact with us—along with our vehicles, poisons, bullets, and centuries old misunderstandings about their true nature—and such encounters seldom end well for the cats. The good news is that the public is becoming increasingly aware of the impacts we are having on our fellow travelers, and efforts are being made to reduce puma mortality in certain locales. Recent events involving the life and times of a puma living in the Santa Monica Mountain National Recreation Area above Malibu, California, serve as a good example.
The federal Wildlife Services program killed 2.7 million animals in 2016. In its annual “kill report,” the agency data shows that 1.6 million of the 2.7 million deaths were of native wildlife species. Wildlife Services maintains that it “manages the damages” caused by so-called invasive species, yet less than half of the animals in the report are actually considered invasive. The Center for Biological Diversity asserts that of the almost 3 million animals killed yearly, many are unintentional kills that include household pets.