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Surrounded by several million people, the Santa Cruz Mountains along the Bay Area peninsula – an area about half the size of the 700,000 acre Catskill Park in southern New York State –¬†supports about 30 adult cougars and 40 kittens. The Santa Cruz’s largest protected area is the 18,000 acre Big Basin Redwood State Park. In fact, the region in area and location is more similar to the NYC Metro Hudson Highlands than the Catskills. The range’s road and human densities are higher than the prime cougar habitats of the Black Hills of South Dakota and the Big Cypress Swamp of South Florida – and potential habitat in the Adirondacks – yet we continue to hear from eastern wildlife officials with no cougar research experience that core roadless wilderness areas are necessary to support cougar recovery.

In this new study by UCSC’s Puma Project, you will see from the building and puma landscape use maps that the cats have home ranges right up and into the suburbs of San Jose and Santa Cruz, that they’re successfully co-existing with interior towns of several thousand people like Lexington Hills, Felton and Scotts Valley, that they’re routinely crossing four-lane Rt. 17 bisecting the 20-mile wide study area, and that they’re barely using some of the more remote, protected “core areas” in Big Redwood and Nisene Marks State Parks.

If cougars can make it in the Santa Cruz, they can certainly make it in the Adirondacks and the Monongahela and the Smokies.

Puma Landscape Use study

 

 

 

 

 

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