Los Angeles, the city of angels, is known nationwide for its notorious traffic, reckless drivers, and constantly busy highways. These may be only a slight inconvenience for humans, but to the cougars in the area, this can present a lethal situation.
Cougars who live in the Santa Monica Mountains and the Sierra Mountains are separated by the 101 highway and are not able to get back to their homes. Having noticed this, the National Park Service begun a study in 2002 centered around these endangered mountain lions. This study has found that due to busy highways and constant urban sprawl, the L.A. cougar population has one of the lowest genetic diversity rates. Since this study has begun, 17 cougars have died on these highways.
The National Wildlife Federation and other various organizations have partnered up with Caltrans to build a safe passage for wildlife to cross over the 101 freeway. Once this $80 million project is built in 2020, it will be the world’s largest wildlife crossing and will become a model for conservation projects worldwide.
Though this sounds like the perfect solution, L.A. residents have expressed their concerns. Many believe that this project is unnecessary and a waste of hard-earned tax dollars. Some have even gone to say that this bridge will not serve its purpose anyway.
Project manager Sheik Moinuddin, representing Caltrans, responds to these concerns with: “the city of Los Angeles has long held off this project, and it’s time that we finally take action and build this bridge. These mountain lions require a large amount of space to be able to survive, and by installing this bridge, we hope to provide them with a safe, stable, environment.” As for the money, this project is being funded mostly by private organizations and foundations such as the Leonardo Dicaprio Foundation.
Today, there are many successful exhibits of wildlife crossings all around the world. Some of the most famous include the 12 crossings in Banff, Canada which safely cross all types of animals including moose, elk, bears, and more.
One of the most interesting crossings is the Crab Bridge in Christmas, Australia. I mean, didn’t you hear? Crabs have rights too.
The point is, these animal crossings have proven to be very successful in many instances around the world and will hopefully do so as well in our very own Los Angeles.
As residents of L.A., it is our responsibility to ensure that the declining population of cougars is protected and conserved. We must learn to coexist with the wildlife around us and preserve their environments to the best of our ability. After all, who could say no to this?
To spread awareness on one of the most controversial environmental topics in Los Angeles right now, use #savelacougars! For more information on this project and how you can help visit savelacougars.org.