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1. Press for building wildlife overpasses Roads fragment valuable wildlife habitat and, sadly, vehicles kill many animals trying to cross. In the U.S. alone theFederal Highway Administration estimates there are between 1 and 2 million collisions annually with large wildlife, such as bears, mountain lions, elk, deer, and moose, resulting in over $8.4 billion spent on automotive repairs. Car strikes have been shown to be a major threat to more than 20 endangered species, including the Florida panther, San Joaquin kit fox, desert tortoise, ocelot, red wolf, bighorn sheep and Canada lynx.
The thousands of miles of highways and roads in greater Los Angeles are putting the small and isolated population of mountain lions at risk. At least 18 lions have been documented as killed in automobile accidents. Highways not only increase the likelihood of car accidents but also fragment habitat, resulting in inbreeding, which reduces genetic health. When mountain lions reach maturity and begin to search for a mate, they often travel hundreds of miles, which becomes incredibly perilous around Los Angeles. When mountain lions don’t leave to search for new territory, genetic inbreeding increases. There are at least two recorded examples of fathers mating with their daughters. Biologist Seth Riley has noted that at the current rate of inbreeding, we should expect to see visible signs of decreased genetic health in LA cougars. If you want to learn more about why habitat fragmentation is so harmful, check out this shortvideo.
But there is hope. In Banff National Park, where there are two wildlife overpasses and 22 underpasses, wildlife-car collisions have been reduced by 80 percent. Mountain lions just might save human lives, too: an article published by theJournal of Conservation Biology in 2016 concluded that establishing mountain lion populations in an eastern United States ecosystem could reduce human deaths by reducing collisions with wildlife.
Featured Campaign: In light of the famous mountain lion P22, which crossed two eight-lane highways (101 and 405) to reach Griffith Park, and 18 other mountain lions that died attempting the same, theNational Wildlife Federation, with support from other organizations and CalTrans, launched #SaveLACougars campaign to build an overpass over Hwy 101 in Los Angeles. Overpasses have proved very effective in creating a safe space for mountain lions and other wildlife by increasing their survival and genetic health. And by decreasing overall collisions, overpasses may save more than just mountain lion lives. To support the building of a wildlife overpass in Agoura Hills, allowing safe passage between the Santa Monica and Sierra Madre Mountains, sign this petition.
2. Contact your state’s wildlife agency to protect females and kittens Protecting female cougars and their kittens is essential to the species’ survival. Write or call your state wildlife agency and urge officials to ban the hunting of cougars (or at minimum to limit the number of females that can be killed). Also, ask your agency to require online hunter education programs to assist hunters in determining a cougar's sex. Only Colorado, Montana, and New Mexico have adopted online hunter education programs to help hunters better identify female cougars.
3. Keep people and cougars safe We are fortunate to have cougars as an important part of our natural heritage. The chances of seeing a cougar are extremely rare, and negative encounters are even rarer. Cougars are shy and usually avoid people. Learn how to co-exist safely with cougars and take some common sense precautions. For tips on what to do if you do encounter a cougar, click here.
4. Eliminate rat poisons Anticoagulants and other rat poisons are inhumane. They kill thousands of non-target animals each year, including cougars. Tell your friends, family, and neighbors about the dangerous consequences of rat poisons used in and around their homes. Distribute outreach materialswidely, and write articles for your homeowner’s association and community newspaper. Help spread the word to your local schools.
Go to the Urban Carnivores website for excellent information about the effects of rodenticides on cougars and other wildlife.
Featured Campaign:Wildlife are being poisoned at alarming rates in California from rodent poisons. These poisons are often found in bait boxes placed around residential and commercial properties. Several mountain lions have already died in California as a result. National Park Service researchers in 2015 documented the presence of rodenticide compounds in 12 of 13 mountain lions they tested, including a 3-month-old kitten. If passed, Bill AB 2422 would make California the first state to ban any rat poisons that are deemed a "rampant threat" to pets and wildlife. To follow this campaign, or learn more about rat poisons, check out the RATS (Raptors Are The Solution) website.
5. Show your support for current national legislation You can help promote and enhance our nation’s conservation efforts and ensure the long-term health of fish and wildlife throughout the country, right now, through the allocation of $1.3 billion annually in existing revenue from oil and gas royalties to the Wildlife Conservation Restoration Program.
Featured Campaign: Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (H.R. 4647) In early December 2017 two U.S. representatives introduced a bipartisan House bill to dedicate $1.3 billion annually (earned from oil and gas royalties) to strengthen and support a broad range of wildlife conservation plans and initiatives for public access to open space. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has led successful conservation movements when proper resources were available. This bill aims to reduce the number of extinction events in upcoming years and to preserve more open space for generations to come. Many groups of animals are at risk. See the chart for more information. To promote this legislation, contact your congressional representative and express your support. You can call or use the Act Now link provided by the National Wildlife Federation to send an automatically generated email.