By Rebecca Dmytryk
39M, the young male mountain lion that wandered into downtown Santa Cruz earlier this year (link to our original story), is dead.
He was struck and killed by a car on Highway 17 on October 31st.
Please read more about 39M - his documented travels over the last 5 months, and about what's being done locally to improve highway crossings, HERE.
Urban development results in fragmentation of wildlands. Wildlife is forced into "island" habitats where natural and necessary migration between populations comes with great risk.
Highway deaths and other human-caused mortalities have a tremendous impact on the overall health of wild populations. Maybe more than you might imagine.
It's not, simply, the loss of individuals, it's how they are taken out - indiscriminately. This goes against nature - against the natural law and order of things - survival of the fittest.
Case in point: An adult male mountain lion - a proven survivor - was migrating into new territory, bringing valuable genetic material to the isolated Santa Monica Mountain's population. He was killed October 6th in his attempt to cross Highway 101.
Please read more about the lions of Southern California and what's being done there to reduce highway casualties, HERE.
Check out these two recommended reads on the subject:
The Spine of the Continent