San Diego

Your Corner: An Intimate Look at Mountain Lions in San Diego

Your Corner: Julian

There are a lot more eyes on one of Southern California's most elusive predators, mountain lions.

Dave Bittner with the Wildlife Research Institute blames a combination of factors for the troubles facing the region's lions.

"In two generations, if we don't stop the decline, we won't have mountain lions in Southern California, and that would be a sad state of affairs," Bittner said.

Bittner is leading a project right now installing trap cameras around San Diego County's backcountry, and has put out the call for others to do the same.  Some people are already sharing their pictures.

"We're networking to get all these pictures of mountain lions," Bittner said.

The motion-activated cameras can be left for up to a year, capturing thousands of videos or still images day or night.

Bittner does not want to give exact locations of those cameras in order to protect the animals, but will say the cameras are being set up on a deer trail.

The goal is to see where the lions and their main food source are moving.

Freeways and other development have been cutting off the routes lions use to move around Southern California.

"The lions do not get back and forth often enough to breed and keep the population healthy," he said. "That's become one of the biggest problems."

The other issue affecting the animals is California is depredation, or legally killing a lion when it attacks pets or livestock.

According to the state's Department of Fish and Wildlife, more than 1,300 mountain lions have been killed statewide over the past decade and a half. 

Seventeen of those were killed in San Diego County.

He's hoping to eventually have 100 cameras in San Diego's backcountry. That type of expansion could take at least a decade.

Find out more about the project and the state's legislative history regarding the mountain lion here.

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