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One of the largest threats to California mountain lions

Narrator:       This is Science Today. Since 1990, mountain lions have been a protected species in the state of California, but one of the largest threats facing pumas are roads and development that prevent them from being able to disperse and move from one habitat block to another.

Wilmers:        What that can lead to is inbreeding and the eventual extinction of that part of the population.

Narrator:       Wildlife ecologist Chris Wilmers of the University of California, Santa Cruz, is leading The Puma Project, which tracks lions in the Santa Cruz Mountains to get a better sense of their behavior and how habitat fragmentation is affecting them.

Wilmers:        There's also a few emerging threats that we're just starting to see and it's not clear whether it's going to be a big threat or not are poisons in the environment. So, rodenticides are becoming increasingly widespread, both in and around urban and agricultural areas, but also in wild areas because marijuana farmers use them. And what that can do is lead to either direct poisoning of the animal or increasing the animal's susceptibility to diseases.

Narrator:       For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.