Santa Monica Mountains' lions face extinction

By the Associated Press | October 1, 2011 | 11:05 AM EDT

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Morning commuters in Los Angeles were likely startled, if not downright terrified, when a young mountain lion recently strode onto Interstate 405 and was killed by oncoming traffic.

But biologists who have spent a decade studying the lions living in the nearby Santa Monica Mountains say the cat was simply searching for a home. While mountain lion populations are healthy across California, the situation is becoming increasingly desperate for the isolated mountain population. Biologists worry the small group will go extinct from inbreeding.

In the hopes of preventing this state agencies are identifying sites to build wildlife crossings along the freeways that would allow wildlife to move safely from the Santa Monica Mountains to open space in the Santa Susana Mountains and Los Padres National Forest.