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Heavy cougar traffic at city edges.

Many southern Californians would be surprised to learn that they live within striking distance of mountain lions.

Between 1988 and 1993, wildfire biologist Paul Beier placed radio transmitters on 32 cougars, including nine young animals, living in the Santa Ana Mountains east of Anaheim. Juveniles leave their mothers around 18 months of age to seek out their own turf, which can cover up to 200 square miles, says Beier. His radio tracking revealed that this leads them to the edges of the wilderness. There, they explore the urban boundaries until they find "corridors," narrow strips of seminatural habitat that connect the Santa Ana Mountains with other undeveloped environments. These corridors include, for example, a freeway underpass that leads into a stable, says Beier, now at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff.

Five of the cougars used such corridors, he reports. One animal crossed under a highway 22 times; another lived temporarily in a 4-mile stretch "basically within a stone's throw of thousands of homes," Beier says. Yet people reported only three sightings of these cats during the study period.

Beier says his work shows that animals immigrate through corridors, which can help reduce the threat of extinction.
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Title Annotation:mountain lions use semi-natural corridors near urban areas
Author:Pennisi, Elizabeth
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Jun 26, 1993
Words:196
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