A Bridge for Mountain Lions

Although they are not aware of it, mountain lions living in the Santa Monica Mountains are going to receive a fabulous gift within the next few years. Conservationists and fundraisers gathered recently near Liberty Canyon Road in Agoura Hills to discuss the creation of a wildlife bridge over the 101 Freeway, which would allow the various small groups of mountain lions in the area to roam freely and intermingle with each other. The bridge will be 200 feet long and 165 feet wide, and will help provide safe passage for a variety of wildlife. In addition to mountain lions, animals such as skunks, bobcats, and squirrels will be able to use what will be the nation’s largest wildlife overpass.

The bridge is being built primarily to encourage and allow genetic diversity among the region’s mountain lions. A small group of 10-15 mountain lions currently live in the Santa Monica Mountains. Biologists studying the predators suggest that inbreeding, as well as being hit and killed by vehicles, are causing damage to their numbers. Since 2002, at least 17 mountain lions have been killed by motorists. An overpass, complete with sound walls and retaining walls along its outer edges, will help mitigate against both dangers. By preventing geographic isolation, the bridge will help the mountain lion population grow strong and flourish.

Liberty Canyon Road is the perfect place to construct the bridge because of the vast expanses of public lands located on either side. CalTrans, California’s transportation agency, will oversee the design and construction of the actual bridge because it crosses an interstate. They will not, however, be paying for the wildlife bridge.

To get the bridge built, conservationists must raise $60 million by 2020. 80% of the total funds for the bridge are expected to come from private donors and corporations. Fundraising efforts are well underway, and $3.6 million has been committed thus far. To keep the design phase of the project on schedule, fundraisers are kicking off a campaign to raise $10 million by June of next year. The campaign to help save mountain lions is perhaps the most ambitious wildlife fundraising campaign to date, and many people are working hard to ensure its success.

The majority of people seem to passionately support the campaign. Time is essential in saving Southern California’s mountain lions, and with the bridge slated to be completed by 2022, help may arrive just in time.



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