A recent mountain lion study in California highlights the big cats’ avoidance of urban and residential areas. Even though the Santa Monica Mountains cougars in the study lived in close proximity to Los Angeles, they only ventured into urban areas about 1% of the time. The study also found that they stayed much closer to developed areas, in the chaparral shrublands, than previously thought, perhaps because deer, their main source of food, also stayed close to developed areas.
Although it seems like we are constantly hearing about mountain lions in backyards and close to human development, this study shows us how truly rare it is for them to venture into residential areas. Even in a population right on the edge of a huge city, it is exceedingly uncommon for cougars to seek out areas near humans. Avoidance is practiced almost 99% of the time. Even urban cougars are wild animals that want to stay wild and away from people when possible.