Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Mountain Lions and Foothill Suburbs

Mountain Lions are definitely on the upswing and are more and more bold with their range. They are prowling my old neighborhood.

Contrary to sentimental belief, it is NOT the the suburban foothill developments are intruding on the mountain lions' traditional range. On the contrary, the mountain lions are *coming down from the mountains* to explore what food the suburbs have to offer.

The ranchers and fruit growers in days gone by, who used to occupy the places where the foothill subdivisions are now, had no qualms about shooting the big cats. Moreover, the ranchers and growers were not likely to leave food out for them.

The growth of suburban areas that are not keen on firearms discharge, combined with increased pet food left out (and sometimes the smaller pets *themselves* as mountain lion food) and scraps to forage, have ironically led to more mountain lions.

Another key fact is, contrary to the oft repeated saw that "we are shrinking their land" - given the vast green belts and open space preserves surrounding the Bay Area, *lobbied for by the environmentalists*, and the conversion of hinterland usages from things like logging, ranching, farming and mining, to things more like second homes, primary homes and "country estates" for wealthy Silicon Valley people, the habitat for Mountain Lions and all other large mammals has become a lot less challenging than it was 40 years ago.

A lot less lead flying at the critters (not to mention, a lot fewer traps).

It is ironic. The more citified (or more properly, suburbanized) the Bay Area became, the more bold and overpopulated some of the wildlife became.

Suburban shrubbery attracts more deer, and suburban gardening and garbage cans attract more skunks and raccoons, as well.

Contrary to the notion that increased homes mean decreased wildlife at all times, for some species, the arrival of Suburban Man is a downright boon.

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