connect / 2021
Facing Extinction: Connecting Angelenos with resources to coexist with LA Cougars
At the Cougar Conservancy, our mission to reduce human-wildlife conflict and conserve cougar populations through science-based management and conservation. Our work seeks to connect the people of Los Angeles to conservation issues existing in their neighborhoods while protecting imperiled cougar populations from extinction.
In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?
- Central LA
- East LA
- San Gabriel Valley
- San Fernando Valley
- South LA
- South Bay
- Antelope Valley
What is the problem that you are seeking to address?
Los Angeles is one of the last megacities left in the world that has a remaining large cat population, yet cougars in Southern California are facing an “extinction vortex” driven by genetic isolation due to habitat loss and fragmentation caused by roads and development. Hundreds of cougars a year are lost statewide to human-caused mortalities including vehicle strikes, rodenticide poisoning, and depredation despite warnings from scientists about the potential loss of cougar populations in this region within 50 years if nothing is done to improve their habitat and public perception. Our mission is to connect Angelinos with resources they need to coexist with wildlife and ensure cougars have a future in LA. Angelinos love cougars and show their appreciation for wildlife annually when we celebrate P-22 Day to honor the iconic cougar of Griffith Park. People have coexisted with cougars for the last 40,000 years and this relationship has been critical for ecological and cultural integrity.
Describe the project, program, or initiative that this grant will support to address the problem identified.
The Cougar Conservancy will work to promote human-wildlife coexistence by connecting 15,000 LA residents to ecologically sound, geographically specific, and culturally sensitive educational programming. We seek funding to achieve the following outcomes during the 1-year project period: -Recruit and train 100 volunteers to connect their family, friends, and neighbors to our coexistence resources. Research has shown that human-wildlife conflicts can be prevented or resolved by providing communities with sound information delivered by community members. -Provide educational programming virtually and in-person (COVID limitations) to more than 8,000 people on coexisting with our wild neighbors. We will develop both youth and bilingual (Spanish) outreach programs and organize monthly events. We will hold demonstrations on how to build secure enclosures in 4 separate locations in communities along the urban-wildland interface within LA County. -Respond to reports and mitigate conflict with our Conflict Task Force as needed. Less depredation permits will be issued when our science-based consultations help reduce the number of depredated pets and livestock. -Create a video series to increase public participation in wildlife decision-making. This media project will increase general understanding of the process, relay the importance of public participation, and encourage the building of diverse coalitions of participants to ensure decisions affecting wildlife are made equitably.
In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?Expand existing project, program, or initiative (expanding and continuing ongoing, successful work)
Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?
- Direct impact
- Indirect impact
Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.
Our programs intend to reduce the number of pet and livestock fatalities from depredation. We are committed to ensuring that the communities living and recreating in LA feel empowered with the tools they need to coexist with wildlife. Dispelling misconceptions can improve public relations with predators and the outdoors in general and thus strengthen Angelinos’ connections to nature in their neighborhoods. Fewer conflict complaints and depredation incidents would support the recovery of cougar populations most at-risk of extinction in the short term. In the long term, we hope to identify novel tools to prevent future conflicts and establish lasting changes within state and local budgets that allocate resources to researching and managing human-wildlife interactions. Our programs targeting LA youth and Spanish speakers specifically are designed to support more diverse participation in outdoor recreation and decision-making processes occurring at neighborhood, local, and state levels.
What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?
The Cougar Conservancy will evaluate the performance of our programs using both qualitative and quantitative methods: a) Qualitative evaluation tools: Testimonials from program participants Pre and Post event surveys Increased understanding and participation in public policy Increased tolerance of predators and connection to nature in and beyond LA b) Quantitative evaluation tools: Number of volunteers participating in trainings Number of people reached through our Conflict Task Force, including the Number of Conflict Visits Number of cougar-proof enclosures built Number of residents reached through canvassing (COVID limitations) Number of messages received by the Conflict Hotline (phone and email) Number of Angelinos reached through community events (in-person and virtual) Number of students engaged in Youth programs (in-person and virtual) Number of people reached through the Public Participation Video Series Number of people engaged online using the hashtag #CoexistWithCougars
Which of the connect metrics will you impact?
- Public arts and cultural events
- Immigrant integration
Indicate any additional LA2050 goals your project will impact.
- LA is the best place to LEARN
- LA is the best place to CREATE
- LA is the best place to PLAY
- LA is the healthiest place to LIVE