WHY CONSERVE PUMAS ?
As keystone predator, the puma plays a key role in maintaining healthy ecosystems:
- The puma helps keep deer populations in check, preventing them from overrunning the landscape and destroying the ground cover that so many other species depend on.
- Animals taken down by pumas help feed hundreds of other species.
- By removing the weakest animals from the system, the puma helps keep disease to a minimum, including some diseases that may affect humans.
In addition, because the puma requires such large home ranges, it also serves as a bellwether for the habitat needs of other species. Any habitat or corridor protection measure that is effective for pumas will likely benefit many other species as well.
Though the challenges are great, we believe that with persistent effort and highly collaborative approaches, we *can* make a difference and start changing course from destruction of our local puma populations, and subsequent decline of the natural habitats they help manage and balance, to their longterm health and preservation.
HABITAT PRESERVATION: The BAPP team is collaborating with several organizations dedicated to establishing permanent blocks and corridors for habitat preservation. Integrating our puma research into these efforts is critical for ensuring the optimal selection and prioritization of parcels.
ROAD RETROFITTING: We are working with Caltrans on their road development framework, with a special emphasis on placement of highway underpasses at key puma crossing points (such as on Highway 17 in the Santa Cruz Mountains). Caltrans has become very aware of the need to consider wildlife pathways and not just human pathways when planning and implementing roads in California.
LAND USE POLICIES: As our research sheds new light on the urban-wildland interface, especially in how pumas interact with the manmade environment, we will be able to develop and promote more effective land use policies for managing recreational activities in parks, zoning requirements for new developments, etc.