On April 16, the California Fish and Game Commission voted unanimously to consider the candidacy of Southern California and Central Coast mountain lions for the state’s Endangered Species Act, a move that will prompt a one-year review during which the protections of the law will apply to the state’s mountain lion population. The vote came after a California Department of Fish and Wildlife finding that concluded that the state’s mountain lion population may require additional protections.
In a press release from the Center for Biological Diversity, which submitted a petition calling for greater protection for mountain lions in California, Debra Chase, CEO of the Mountain Lion Foundation, said, “By advancing these mountain lion populations to candidacy, they are helping to ensure that these iconic cats inspire future generations.” According to the release, mountain lion hunting has been banned in California for more than 30 years, but they face threats from sources of human interference like traffic.
According to the release, populations of mountain lions in the Santa Ana and Santa Monica mountains could face extinction in 50 years if measures aren’t taken to safeguard their existence. Under the ruling, local authorities will have to take the effect on mountain lion populations into account when carrying out development projects. The ruling also means that state agencies have a legal mandate to protect the species, and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife will be able to develop plans to facilitate the recovery of the mountain lion population.